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Digital reading is now officially “in”

I see that in two weeks, Kindle will have some colorful competition. The Wired Gadget blog has a post about the new Cool-er eReader, whose biggest assets appear to be price ($250, $109 cheaper than Kindle 2) and colors (eight choices, seven more than Kindle). Its biggest drawbacks are no wireless and right now, anyway, new releases and best sellers will cost more on the Interead site than they do on the Amazon Kindle store. That might not be as much of an issue as you might think since Interead makes a point of saying they're not trying to force readers to buy ebooks only from them (take that, Amazon!).

I have to admit when I first heard about the Kindle I totally blew off the importance of the wireless connection. I was so, so wrong. I admit it. The most fantastic thing about Kindle is the ability to be almost anywhere in the US (except in the entire state of Montana, apparently) and get a book you want to read almost instantly. I have been at lunch with friends and heard them talk about books, whipped out my Kindle (I always have it), and bought the book on the spot. It is a fantastic advantage for book readers, and it also adds magazines and newspapers into the mix.

The new Cool-er (the name says it all; Interead is trying to create the iPod of eReaders) does have some nice features. You can add a 4 GB SD card, and you can change your own battery, both things that Amazon dumped in creating Kindle 2. It also supports the ePub open source format, which Amazon has ignored so far (see note about bullying readers, above). And the colors are nice. But I gotta have wireless!

Aside from the Cool-er, we are now awaiting the Plastic Logic still unnamed eReader, the Hearst eReader, and probably more. Kindle, Sony, iLiad, BeBook (which goes by different names in different countries) are already out there. The trick will be to not only sell well now, but to establish an evolutionary path that allows advances as technology progresses. We shall see who makes it.







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