Monday, January 4, 2010

Tablets and e-books taking off

Amazon's Kindle is a success, and other e-book devices like Barnes & Noble's Android based nook and Sony Reader are also doing well. Perhaps e-books are finally taking off.

E-books have been around for a while. In The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999) futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote: The current generation of virtual books does not have the capability of displacing paper-based publications. Yet the victory of the paper-based book will be short-lived as future generations of computer displays succeed in providing a fully satisfactory alternative to paper.

That moment seems arriving. In a few days Kurzweil will introduce his new e-reader platform, called Blio. A blogger asks Is This the Future of the Book?: I think Blio's biggest plus right now is something simpler: the fact that it can work on multiple devices. Kurzweil argues, and I'd agree, that most people don't want to carry several gadgets around with them. If there's a tool that allows them to read a book on their laptops or their iPhones just as pleasantly as on their Kindles, the Kindles may wind up gathering dust in the cupboard.

I think I will also prefer reading e-books on a more general purpose devices: the Iphone (or in my case an Android phone) or one of the many tablet devices to be announced in the next few weeks, often based on the Iphone or Android software. I bought my first tablet device in 2003. It was not very useful but, as for e-books, it seems that also the moment of the tablet device is coming.