In the past several years more and more devices to promote e-reading for the public at large have come into play. These devices include Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and the Sony Reader. Apple is now coming into the mix with the highly advanced Apple I Pad coming out late this Spring. More and more consumers are turning to digital books y via the e-reading devices or P.D.F. files The new digital e-reading revolution affords an excellent opportunity for Independent (and Traditional) authors and publishers to promote their books and further sales.
In this post I'll briefly go over the major digital reading devices. In a subsequent post I'll go into how to sell your e-book via Smashwords and Amazon Kindle
Kindle: Amazon's best-selling e-reading device, which debuted in November of 2007 and is the forerunner of it's predecessors. It is sold exclusively through Amazon and sells roughly for $259. It is currently available in North America and Australia, but not in the European Market. Three hardware devices, known as "Kindle," "Kindle 2," and "Kindle D.X." support this platform. Kindle software applications exist for Windows, i Phone OS, and Black Berry, with a Mac OS X version in development. Amazon has released Kindle for PC free of charge, allowing users to read Kindle books on a Windows PC. Kindle owners can download e-books for their Kindle. The advantage of the Kindle is that you in theory can save money on books, as e-books are typically priced less. The main advantage of Kindle or other e-reader devices is the portability. You can carry up to 1500 books in one device - instead of lugging paperback and hardbacks around. This is perfect for flights and trips. Books for Amazon Kindle mostly must be purchased through the Amazon Kindle store, however other websites such as Smashwords offer alternatives to this.
Barnes and Noble Nook: In an effort to cut into Amazon's e-book sales and buffer the Brick and Mortar chain's sales (Amazon is big competition for B&N and cuts into about 40% of their potential revenue margin), B&N opted to develop it's only device called 'Nook,' which is very similar to Kindle in design. The main difference of course is the fact that the only place you can purchase e-books for your Nook is via Barnes and Noble's on-line store. I've heard both positive and negative reviews of the Nook. Some prefer Kindle and others Nook.
Sony Reader: Borders sells this device in store, however Sony Reader isn't limited by one store format. It supports P.D.F.'S, e-pub, and Sony e-book store downloads. It looks similar to both the Amazon Kindle and Nook...I have heard a lot of people say they like the Sony Reader because you can easily read P.D.F.'S and they Sony Store offers a good selection of books. Over all it depends on your personal preference in model make-up and downloading options.
I Pad: The Apple I Pad will come out this spring. I am a Mac user and love Mac products so I'm sure the quality will be excellent. However I want to point out some key differences between the I Pad and other e-reading devices. From what I've read the I Pad offers a platform for e-reading, but the device acts more like a mini computer with Internet Browsing, Documents, Applications, and other non e-reading capabilities not offered via Kindle, Nook or Sony. Therefore Mac will appeal to both those looking for a computer smaller than a laptop, and e-readers have the Apple Book option.
The price is steep at $499 compared to other e-readers, but given the fact that it is more of a mini-computer that makes sense. I'm not sure Apple will cut into Nook and Amazon sales as much as economists project. I think Amazon, much like Apple with the I Pod set the standard with the Kindle and many people who don't want the excess features on the I Pad will opt for the cheaper Kindle. The main question will be the pricing wars, which are beginning to ensue. I'll broach th pricing wars in a later post.
PC or Online HTML viewing: Several e-book stores allow you to download the file to your computer to read in P.D.F. or Online HTML form, which allows even more opportunities for readers to download e-books and read them on the computer. Cell-phone carriers also are allowing e-reading on phones.
If you are interested in learning about how to sell you book in e-Book form, follow me to the next entry...