There is no doubt that 2011 will see some significant shifts within the busy world of ebooks and ebook readers. The rise of tablet pcs will have an affect too. They are unlikely to kill off dedicated ebook reading devices, but they will help push up sales of ebooks themselves.
Here are the big changes coming to electronic reading in 2011:
New Ebook Readers 2011
New Kindle 2011
The Kindle simply has to be revamped a little this year. Expect to see some minor tweaking of the dedicated ebook reader from Amazon, along with a few new products that might just be a little more versatile than before.
- Cheaper Kindles – An important change is the introduction of ad supported Kindles. For a saving of $25 Amazon ditch the old screen-savers, and instead show adverts or special offers. The ads don’t get in the way of reading, but do open up the most famous ebook reader to a much wider audience.
- Kindle Touch – Since Sony started using infra-red touch-screen that means no extra layers in the screen itself, we can now view e-ink just as well as ever, but with the ease of use that is touch-screen navigation. A touch-screen Kindle would be sleeker, smaller and easier to use.
- Color Kindle – This is unlikely to occur in 2011. We expect color e-ink style displays (and those which can switch from LCD to e-ink) to be good enough to use in 2012 at the earliest. So if you are hoping for a color screen, non-backlit dedicated reader from Amazon you might need to wait a little while longer.
- Kindle Tablets - Now these really do look to be a realistic proposition. Amazon are said to have two new tablets in the pipe-line. Possibly an entry level 7″ Amazon tablet (possibly an improved version of the Nook Color), and a more powerful 10″ tablet dubbed the Kindle for Movies.
New Nook 2011
Barnes & Noble seem to be side-lining their classic Nook reader in favour of a smaller, more economical version. The all new Nook is dubbed the Simple Touch Reader, belying the fact that it uses infra-red based touch-screen navigation to give great control without affecting screen resolution. Similar to their older products in terms of specification, it does use the latest Pearl e-ink at last (the same as that used by the Kindle) so now really does offer a good alternative to Amazon’s ebook reading device.
However with no audio and no web browser it is a little more limiting if you feel like taking a break from your reading without having to unpack another gadget.
Sony Readers 2011
Well it seems that even though Sony revamped their entire range to utilise infra-red based touch navigation they are to remain forever in the shadow of both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s a shame as their pocket edition reader in particular is a good buy. But we are becoming ever more social beings and demand wireless connectivity for our ebook readers now which is something only the most expensive Sony readers can offer.
Another infrared touch-screen e-ink reader, this time from Kobo. Slightly larger than the new Nook, but also slightly lighter this is the cheapest of the major brand readers. Again there is no audio, no web browser and only a wi-fi enabled option. Probably not going to knock the Nook and Kindles off the top spots for dedicated reading devices this year then!
Ebook Reading on Tablets
The big thing for 2011 is of course the tablet computer. Apple may be dominating the field, but there is no shortage of other companies vying for a piece of the action. The snag is that whilst a tablet is great if you want to do lots of things, it isn’t quite so great if you want to predominantly read for a while.
If you can hold on until 2012 it seems that displays using both back-lit LCD and low energy kind on the eyes e-ink should be ready. When that happens you can bet your bottom dollar we will see a color Kindle tablet on the shelves.
The other big thing to note is that 2011 will see the domination of ebooks over real books in terms of new book sales, as more and more of us switch to reading digitally.