Amazon pioneered the e-reader through Kindle, and Apple set the trend with its much-publicised iPad, launched in April this year. While iPad received a huge response with 50,000 units sold in the first hour and about 300,000 on the first day, the phenomenon may be repeated with Samsung’s Android-based tablet PC, the Galaxy Tab, which was unveiled this month. The question now we ask ourselves is, is now the time to replace our much-cherished books and newspapers in the big book shelf with a compact e-reader?
Though electronic publishing has existed since the advent of the web, it is the new generation of e-readers that are likely to improve the user experience and, hence, the adoption of e-content, especially e-books and e-newspapers. An e-reader is an electronic device, designed primarily for reading digital books and periodicals. A typical e-reader supports 6- to 9.7-inch display screen, weighs between 300 and 600 grams, uses either e-ink monochrome display, used in devices like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, or color LCD screens like those used in Apple’s iPad.
Compared to the developed countries, where most people are exposed to the internet and computer-based reading, online reading habit in India is much less, thanks to poor PC and internet penetration. The PC penetration, even in urban households, is just about 30 per cent, while the internet user base stands at a poor 7 per cent of the population. The other barrier in e-readers’ adoption is the one-time cost of the device, considerably higher than the conventional books. The present price of e-readers in India ranges between Rs 10,000 and Rs 35,000. Colour screen e-readers like iProf costs about Rs 15,000, with iPad yet to be introduced in India.
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