Try not to read too much into it

March 11th, 2010 in .Blogs
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And so yet more e-readers flood the market, with companies like computer giant ASUS joining the fray with the DR-900 at this year’s CeBIT exhibition.

Still in its infancy, the e-reader market looks set to hit critical mass in the coming years, which Digitimes estimates to be at a compound annual growth rate of 95.7 percent. Online retailer Amazon last year revealed that its e-book sales surpassed that of the humble paperback for the very first time – a clear indication that e-books and e-readers are here to stay.

For someone who started out his career in print, I’m obviously biased, making me the least ideal person to comment on the subject. But in the interest of fairness, I’ll be objective so hear me out.

E-readers already make a compelling case for themselves:

  •  They’re environmentally-friendly
  •  They’re portable, letting you carry the equivalent of thousands of books at a time
  •  Online bookstores let you download e-books straight to your e-reader without hooking it up to your computer
  •  They provide a paper-like reading experience with electronic ink

A survey of over 1,000  e-reader owners last year revealed that over 93 percent of them were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their devices. That is high praise indeed.

We could be led to believe that these reasons are enough to drive the proverbial nail in traditional media’s coffin. It is already dying a slow painful death because of an array of factors – less advertising dollars, online and social media, the list goes on.

While that maybe the case, I believe that the internet and e-readers can never completely replace books or newspapers.

When a certain Mr. Jobs went onstage to introduce his latest toy, I, like most people, was impressed. Once Things that Make You go Hmmm buzz over its name waned, some industry critics predicted that it could revolutionise the e-reader world like the way his phone did for mobile industry.

Whether it pans out that way is anyone’s guess. But it says a lot about the growth of the e-reader industry: now the big boys want a piece of the pie. 

I can go on and on about the list of other reasons as to why e-readers are so much better than physical books. But at the end of the day, I still yearn for the tangible feel of flipping through pages.

And I’m not alone, with a recent survey showing that consumers in Ireland still prefer the physical connection they get with newspapers and magazines.

There is something about the old school romanticism of curling up with a page-turner of a novel on a rainy day that technology can’t match. But at the rate technology is progressing, who’s to say that can’t be done?

What do you think?

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