For book lovers, no digital device has yet proven as cool or as user-friendly as the iPod has for more than 42 million music lovers. Most books are still printed on paper -- much like they have been since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450....
Hand-held devices for digital books have been around since the late-1990s from such companies as Franklin Electronics Inc. of Burlington, N.J., and NuvoMedia Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. But sales were plagued by bad design, high hardware costs and a frustrating lack of content.
Today, many of the original e-reader makers have left that business. Franklin, for example, sold its eBookman business to New York-based Ectaco Inc., which is marketing the device as a language-learning tool.
Meanwhile, sales of e-books, while growing -- rising 44% to US$179.1-million last year in the United States, according to Management Practice Inc. -- still account for less than 1% of total book sales of US$25.1-billion in 2005. Many e-books are read on computers, and reference and educational books are the most popular.
That's not to say e-reader makers have given up. Several new devices will be launched this year. Sony Corp. will lead off with its much-acclaimed Sony Reader. iRex Technologies Inc., a spinoff of Philips Electronics, and Chinese supplier Tianjin Jinke Electronics Co. will also hit the U.S. market with new devices.
More at Canada.com 6/28/06
Posted by P. Kaufman at June 29, 2006 7:57 AM