E-book readers are a satisfied lot
Or were before the iPad was announced
Owners of e-book readers - well, US-based ones at least - are very happy with their purchases, local market watcher NPD has revealed.
We say 'are' because NPD made its announcement this week. But 'were' might be a more 'accurate' term since the research that led to this conclusion was carried out more than two months ago, in November 2009.
Since then, Apple has announced its headline-grabbing iPad, a tablet device that combines e-book reader functionality with internet access and iPod media playback.
Punters may now be less satisfied with their purchase, having seen reports and videos of the iPad's colour screen in action, but back in November 2009, 93 per cent of e-book reader users were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their device.
A mere two per cent expressed any level of dissatisfaction.
Interestingly, 60 per cent of owners said wireless access was their gadget's favorite feature. This pretty much means they're all Amazon Kindle owners, so rare - back then, at least - are rival e-book readers with online access.
The 23 per cent who favoured touchscreen technology are presumably mostly owners of Sony's Reader PRS-600 Touch Edition.
Both features are key iPad components, which bodes well for Apple.
That said, only 34 per cent of owners were keen on a colour screen. Compare that to those keen on better battery life - not an iPad strong point - at 39 per cent and those who want a superior selection of reading material (42 per cent). ®
Apples and oranges
It is clear why, Steve Jobs would try to confuse potential buyers by comparing IPad to e-book readers, but I fail to understand how can dedicated technology sites can put them in the same category?
The poeple who have not seen an e-book reader in operation can be mislead into comparing these products. It seems like Apple might one more time exploit consumer ignorance to technology. It far easier to fool people than educating them.
In the dark reading
I've had a little clip-on, battery powered light for years now to tackle darkness when reading. When I switched to a Cool-ER ereader, I just used the same thing. I fail to see how this is a downside for a device which tries to imitate a paper book as much as possible, in fact, it's a massive up-side. Backlit devices strain my eyes and, because I read a lot, such a device would not be fit for purpose. Then of course there's the extra battery power required for a backlight to consider.
The iPad is not comparable to a dedicated ereader. It might do if you just want to read for 20 mins a day but anything more than that and you'll soon have headaches.
I don't understand the comparisons going around. The iPad willnot replace an ereader, it will not replace a PC/laptop, it will not replace a TV, it cannot replace a phone. The iPad is for someone who wants to do a *little* bit of everything, an apprentice in some trades, but it's certainly not a master of any.
The analysis in this article is shit!
Apple fanbois and people who want additional media functionality will buy the iPad but, for me, it's way too limited and expensive - only the battery life gives it an advantage over a tablet netbook. As far as the reading experience goes, the battery life is actually a disadvantage for the iPad along with the backlit screen. So on paper at least (no pun intended) the iPad isn't an obvious competitor for the ereader, despite Apple opening a bookstore to try to muscle in on that market.
My mum is probably typical of ereader users, someone used to books who just wants a book-type experience. Though I'm an IT professional I have to confess that I found her Sony ereader software almost unusable (partly a result of the publishers' incredibly stupid decision to incorporate DRM.) How is my poor mum supposed to cope? She has also been frustrated to discover that barely any of the brand new or contemporary titles she wants are actually available and that they cost more than the paperback.
Apple are known for delivering a smooth, idiot-proof experience. Unless Sony (and others) can improve on the usability of their readers and their commercial arrangements with publishers, they may be leaving the door open to the iPad, which actually delivers an inferior reading experience and a fraction of the battery life. Remember that the iPod is actually a crap music player and the iPhone is a crap phone so the factors for success should be clear!
Re Bettery (sic) life is key
Firstly, the ipad is way more than just a book reader. It can be an eBook reader, but also a Video/ TV player, MP3 player, Internet browser, Email device, Photoframe, portable Games console, productivity device (iWorks looks like it will be usable), capable of running any of the 140,000+ apps already available in the apps store. Heck, it's practically a netbook! Being all of these things, battery life will be compromised on and obviously less than a dedicated ebook reader.
Secondly, the quoted 10 hour battery life was for playing videos non-stop. Obviously battery life would be increased if only using the ipad as a book reader. You could turn wi-fi/ 3g off, reduce brightness, volume etc. which would further increase battery life.
Thirdly, UK prices have not yet been an announced but starting price is $499, which is £314 at today's exchange rate. I don't think Apple will price it at £499.
Ebooks are already here with the iPhone/ iPod touch. Try the Stanza app. Books are downloaded, from several different sources, within the app itself. Don't need iTunes for that. Knowing Apple, the bookstore with the ipad will no doubt be very extensive (and expensive, probably!).
Finally, I'm writing this on an iPod Touch, which is fine. This can only get better with the ipad. Try doing that on your ebook reader!
Waterstones have a great eBook site, and there are a number of others out there that work from the UK.
IMHO, the Ipad will not make the slightest difference to ebook consumers. It's the pleasure of reading from a natural looking e-ink display that attracted me, not wading around with flashy over-marketed Apple branded hypeware.
That said, my Sony 505 does run out of batteries far faster than I expected, and I am all too frequently disapointed when picking the device up after a few days and finding the battery warning message appearing. My next ebook will definately have genuinely long battery life as it's major feature.