Why e-books are bound to fail

E-books, those flat electronic tablets designed for reading downloadable, software-based books, are often packed with advanced displays and other leading-edge technology.

Every time a new e-book comes out, a ripple of chatter spreads through the gadget enthusiast community. Technology news sites cover such product and research announcements like major news, similar to the announcement of a new iPod or smart phone. Engadget and Gizmodo blog them without fail. Even The New York Times tech columnist David Pogue and The Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg have taken the time to test and review e-books.

Companies like Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi and Fujitsu have devoted millions of dollars over the past couple of decades developing what they hope will be a device that replaces the paper book -- the first disruptive shift in the way people read books since the Gutenberg Bible in the 15th century.

Here's a lineup of the major e-books on the market (or almost on the market):

  • Sony Reader
  • eRead StarEBook
  • Jinke Electronics HanLin eBook
  • iRex iLiad
  • Panasonic Words Gear
  • Bookeen Cybook
  • Hitachi Albirey
  • Fujitsu Flepia

Unfortunately, these products -- as well as the whole product category -- are destined for failure.

Sure, there will always be tiny, vertical application niche markets for e-books. Wherever space or environmental constraints limit the practicality of paper books, and where lots of information needs to be at hand, e-books are ideal. For example, they're great for pilots or, say, scientists working in the Arctic. E-books that enable maximizing text size are a godsend for visually impaired readers.

E-book makers believe, as do millions of gadget fans, technology pundits, bookworms and journalists, that e-books will soon become a popular alternative to real, paper books for reading novels, nonfiction bestsellers and kiss-and-tell political memoirs. The idea is that once they perfect the display technology and strike the right balance of battery life, sunlight readability and form factor, we'll all start buying these things, and downloading our books.

Not gonna happen.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Elgan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?