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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Elgan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

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.

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?