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How many eBook Readers? 100+1+2 and still counting…

February 5, 2010

I was initially amazed to hear that over hundred companies displayed their eBook reading devices at the recently concluded Computer Electronics Show (CSE2010).

Then the Apple announcement came along.

And now the news of 2 more from India – the land of the Nano.

One could ask…doesn’t competition drive down prices and increase product efficiency, so why don’t you continue to be amazed? Because I work for an organization that creates content for display on these devices, my amazement turned to dismay as I begin to be concerned about  problems that arise in rendering content for this multitude of devices.

Again one could ask, isn’t there a common denominator…. yaa, there is, hm…, may be, as long as someone doesn’t kill it. And that is ePub allowing publishers to create content in that format and purported to work on all these devices.

The ePub standards provide support for advanced media such as SVG, audio, video. The problem arises not from ePub itself but from the reading systems’ ability to render these advanced features. In their rush to demonstrate the novelty of their wares (touch, multi-touch, pocket-size, book-size, letter-size, split screen, dual screen, pull out screen and a plethora of ideas) the device manufacturers seem to continually postpone a full ePub support to the next version.

As it is now, one particular device seem to stand out of the crowd – the dual screen eDGe from enTourage

Apart from so many niceties, this device, I feel, has an edge in displaying academic journal content. The device comes with two screens; when opened in the dual screen mode, an eInk enabled screen on the left is suitable for reading and an LCD touch screen on the right to surf the web.

Since the device has ePub support the eInk screen could be the dedicated area for the main content in the ePub format and the left LCD screen can be a place to explore article objects with color, laser sharp resolution and zoom functionality. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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