The news that colour E Ink screens are coming and saving users from plain black-and-white electronic book readers has goosed interest in the gadgets. But with technology changing so quickly and tablet computers cropping up in businesses, with colour or not, the e-reader is a superfluous purchase.
With the holiday season coming up, plenty of manufacturers will be highlighting various e-readers but here are five reasons why no one needs one.
1. There's an app for that
With Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook offering applications for both Android and the Apple iOS (and Kindle for the BlackBerry), both devices have made themselves redundant. Not only that, but with the Apple iOS, Kindle has been especially generous. Users of both the iPhone and iPad get some books with multimedia features, such as bonus video and audio, which can't even be played on a Kindle.
2. It's not cheap enough
At £109 for a Kindle 3, £159 for a Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350 and $249 (£154) for a Barnes & Noble Nook, e-readers are not the most expensive gadgets. However, you can put that £100 to £150 towards a tablet computer, which is likely what most users would prefer as it can read electronic books plus provide more capability and functionality.
3. Less functionality for work or play
While at least one of my colleagues has argued that the Kindle would be a blessing in the workplace, especially for those in the medical profession, most doctors and nurses don't need a library of 3,500 books. They want an open system where they can locate patient records or inventory. That will likely only happen with a computer, tablet or otherwise.
4. E-books are not more eco-friendly than paper books
A recent Cleantech report says that traditional books have more impact on the environment than e-readers. As long as the owner of a Kindle reads at least 23 books, he or she produces fewer CO2 emissions than buying the equivalent in traditional books.
However, electronic components require mining of nonrenewable minerals, often in unstable countries and then there's the question of electronics waste. E-waste is often sent to developing countries where hazardous materials are often broken up by hand and incinerated, releasing toxins into the air. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control reported that e-waste, including laptops, LCD monitors and plasma TVs were shown to exceed safe limits in copper, mercury and lead. A greener bet? Use your local library.
5. Most business materials aren't available on an e-reader
While some mainstream textbooks will be available from e-readers, most of your business's training manuals or handbooks won't be. Those materials however can be delivered online far more easily to a desktop, laptop or tablet computer. While an e-reader may be an attractive or reasonably priced buy, for businesses this device is redundant.
If your company is already thinking of buying new tablet computers or even smartphones, forget the Kindle. Instead, use its Android, BlackBerry or Apple iOS application that workers can access on their smartphones for only a fraction of the cost.