Does eBook Readers still make sense?
Have eBook Readers gone out of fashion? The question is legitimate, considering that we are talking about a device that has been on the international markets for two decades now. Initial expectations were that they would fit in well between traditional paper books and more complex electronic devices such as smartphones. But is this really the case? The eBook has, especially during the pandemic period, recorded significant numbers (albeit with a visible decline). But eBook readers, despite the premise, do not seem to have won over that large share of the public that was certainly expected. And the paper book continued to resist.
Smartphones and the dominance of eBook readers
What could be the causes? Certainly, the pervasiveness of devices such as smartphones does not help. After having dented and surpassed the number of personal computers, they continue to dominate the market for ‘portable’ electronic devices. Even devices like smartwatches, despite their growing numbers, are still seen as appendages of their big brothers and not as stand-alone devices. Moreover, the smartphone has been able, thanks to its versatility, to enter and increase its market share in the world of payments as well. Finally, even tablets, which seemed destined for a growing market, have had to yield to the advent of larger smartphones.
So does it make sense to buy eBook Readers nowadays? The answer depends on many factors, briefly listed here.
The first assessment to be made is economic. One more device means one more expense, and for an eBook Reader one has to consider a figure ranging from around 100 euros upwards.
If you are a fan of paper books and do not want to try out a new way of reading, perhaps it is better to avoid buying eBook Readers. Rather, it is better to read eBooks on a device you already own, as they will never be the predominant part of your reading.
If you are an avid reader, an eBook Reader could be an interesting investment. One could in fact organise and keep one’s reading separate from the smartphone/tablet, with a considerable extra battery life (and that would not affect the smartphone’s), as well as greater ease of reading, thanks to the specially designed display.
Here too, the parameters are very subjective. If, for example, one prefers to read in the evening, in bed, or otherwise in quiet contexts, the eBook Reader might be ideal. The backlight does not strain your eyes, as is the case with smartphones, but if you are on the move and do not have the possibility of carrying around a bag (although eBook Readers take up very little space), as well as having little time, reading from your smartphone might be more comfortable.
Type of reading
If one is used to reading novels, fiction or text books in general, the text customisation possibilities in eBook Reader can be the extra factor. Especially if you are visually impaired, an enlarged font comes in very handy… If, however, you are an avid reader of comics, a word of warning: despite the progress, eBook Readers are not exactly the most comfortable way to read comic strips. Furthermore, colour comics require a colour display, which is not present in the vast majority of eBook Readers on the market. In this case, we would recommend a smartphone or, even better, a tablet, which will allow you to appreciate the beauty of the drawings and colours without even enlarging the screen.
In short, one could make considerations ad infinitum, but the philosophy remains the same. eBook Readers are a viable alternative to the smartphone and probably the best way to enjoy an eBook, as devices designed to enhance the features of the electronic book. The choice must be weighed against one’s own habits and cannot ignore the evolutions of the device market.
Recent developments in the eBook Readers market
Some examples? Amazon recently launched its Kindle Scribe which, as the name suggests, also allows one to write rather easily as on a notepad. A true hybrid device, which could meet the preferences of those who want something more from an eBook Reader. On the other hand, another company, Onyx, launched the Boox Palma, described as the first ‘Mobile ePaper’. It is essentially an eBook Reader, but equipped with a processor worthy of a smartphone, with the Android operating system and a 16 MP camera that takes colour photos. In addition, the dimensions are quite peculiar, as the 6-inch screen makes it look completely like a smartphone. The idea is to intercept an even more precise segment of users, those who may want to read, but have very little space available and want to use the camera to save and convert paper documents into digital format. Will it be successful? It is still hard to say, but for the time being, the eBook Reader market still holds surprises in store for us.