Windowshoppist - Pressing Our Noses Against The Internets

Monday, September 21, 2009

Asus To Join Sony & Amazon Kindle In E-Reader Market

The Kindle has been a bit of a lust object for this avid reader since it first came out. But the proprietary E-book format that locks you into Amazon-only content forever, plus clunky design, black-and-gray screen, and the depressing beige color made the whole thing seem... sad, somehow. Sony's E-Reader is cuter, better-designed, and embraces open formatting, but has a tiny bookstore and still, that gray-and-black screen.

Now Asus, maker of the Eee PC (which I have, tote everywhere, and adore), is jumping into the fray. It looks like it's going to be cheaper, in color!!!, and a dual-screen setup. I can think of so many uses for the dual screen -- running reference (Wikipedia and on the right while reading a hard book on the left; taking notes or even working on an essay or blog post about a book on the right while reading the book on the left; or just using both screens to double up on pages in a much more familiar two-page book format.

I'm not sure e-book readers will ever completely take the place of books. I, for one, am partial to reading trashy fiction in a bubble bath and on the beach, and e-readers are always going to be too delicate for that kind of abuse. But the Asus reader is moving in the right direction, I think: a form factor more familiar to readers, a move away from the depressing black-and-white format, and maybe a more affordable price.

Now if only Amazon would realize they're really not hardware people and open up the Kindle format to competing e-readers, we'd finally have a really good bookstore for e-books, too, and this blogger might finally feel reader to take the plunge.

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