Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Borders UK and Barnes & Noble challenge Amazon's Kindle

The Borders "Elonex" e-reader
was launched yesterday in the UK for the equivalent of $310 U.S. (£189)currently).

There are not many details on the specifications for the e-reader yet.

ASTAK EZ READER (not affiliated with any bookstore)
  But the Elonex may not be far from the Astak EZ Reader (EB-06EZ) that Elmo Glick has found buyable from Fry's, advertised on their site for $300 currently but discounted down to $250 locally.

  That's another 6" e-ink reader (and now we can guess why the Kindle DX with its large e-ink screen is out of stock currently) that has native support for PDFs, can read a plethora of languages directly (with the installable upgraded apps), and can handle CHM, DOC, ePub, and HTML directly.

  It has 4 shades of gray relative to the 16-shades of the new Kindles and only a 200Mhz CPU (vs. a 532Mhz one on the Kindle 2) but it can zoom in both portrait and landscape mode, making PDFs more readable (if slow-going when graphics are involved) than they'd normally be on a 6" screen.  That it has an SD card slot up to 4Gigs is a plus.
  Note that the customer photos of the PDF manuals show the 6" to be fully capable of displaying them well.

Now, I stress that despite my talking about it in this space, it's not related to the Border's UK e-reader but it was also just released.  Bruce Bracey of the Gadgets and Hacks site found that it is the same physical device as the Jinke Hanlin V3 e-reader available in China.

QUESTIONS re the Astak EZ
In my questions area on that Gadgets... page, at the bottom but more readable at the comments-posting page, I asked about several of the interactive features in connection with annotations, inline dictionary, and searches within books or of the device, but further reading indicates it doesn't have those, as there's no virtual keyboard mentioned.

  But it certainly has direct support for a lot of file formats, with a rotatable screen, so even without the study-features or wireless it's going to be an attractive choice (if the functions are implemented better than the Cool-er Reader's) for those who want just a pocketable and versatile passive reader.  At $300, I'd think No, but at $250 it starts to sound attractive for those who don't need the study features or the 24/7 wireless.

BARNES & NOBLE'S pricing
jkOnTheRun reports that eReader, a company owned by Barnes & Noble's new subsidiary Fictionwise, is challenging Amazon's $9.95 pricing by also offering all NY Times bestsellers at $9.95, newly released e-books (carried by the site) at $9.95 or less, and no e-book priced over $12.95.

They offer iPhone/iPod versions but not the Kindle format but do offer a Windows format so you can read these on your Windows computer (and maybe convert them to .txt for the Kindle).

  In checking out the store I looked at the categories, did a search on "photoshop" and got one e-book, for Photoshop Elements, ver. 3 - so that's one way not to sell at prices above $12.95.

  I then looked up a book about traveling in Egypt, "Down the Nile."  It's $12.95 at eReader but $9.95 at Amazon. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. The ereader format can't be converted (without breaking the DRM) to other formats. It also has very poor support for photos, which is another reason you don't see books over $13.

  2. Karen, that makes sense since there are only 4 shades of gray supported.

    I found it hard to believe there was no book on Photoshop beyond the older one on Photoshop Elements, a pared-down version. I actually bought a Photoshop book for the Kindle 1, which also has only 4 shades of gray but I got the book for the text, to be able to get ideas when away from the computer.

    Thanks for the DRM reminder on the ereader format.


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