It would also create intensifying competition, which would force purveyors of e-books to increase the quality of their products and services. In all, it would have the ultimate positive benefit of supporting the development of virtual reading.
As it has been previously mentioned, Kindle is not the first electronic reader, but it is the most popular one. Having observed the triumphs of Amazon, other producers are striving to enter the market and get a share of the profits. This will materialize in more customer choices, but also intensifying levels of competition, which will reduce the e-readers' price, enhance its quality and the complementary features, all to culminate with a greater access to the product. Barnes and Noble's Nook allows users to transfer books and also incorporates touch-screen navigation (Gallagher, 2009).
Save the environment
Electronic readers are more environmentally friendly than books. First of all, they save trees by no longer requiring paper. Secondly, it is often argued that, as they are electronic devices, they consume energy. They however function on batteries, which can hold for whole days. Additionally, the carbon dioxide emissions are reduced. And as it can be expected, more and more developments will be made. LG for instance has launched a new reader that charges on solar energy (the Guardian, 2009).
Role in Education
At this point, electronic readers are not sufficiently developed so that they can be efficiently used throughout the educational process. More specifically, they do not allow easy browsing through, taking notes or easy usage for reference. Combined with the fact that it is rather fragile, its current applicability is fairly limited. It must however be noted that Kindle could play a positive role within the learning habits of literature students, who must read long novels (Biggs).
The publishing industry
As it has been previously established, the growing popularity of electronic reading devices would materialize in the reduction of the demand for printed materials. And this refers not only to actual books, but also to magazines, journals and newspapers. The manifestation of this downside will be that of decreased demand for labor force in the field, generating as such an increase in unemployment rates. The same effect will be felt by the segment of traditional books, where libraries and bookstores will have to reduce their expenditures, including staff members, in order to cope with the decreased demand for their products and services. Yet, the intensity of this impact should be reduced.
Dependency on Technology
The modern day individual is hooked up on technology. The mobile telephone, the iPod, the laptop or the BackBerry are just a few examples of items which on the one hand improve the quality of our life, but on the other hand, make us rely on technological advancements. This translates into a sedentary life style and an increased pressure on the eyes.
5. What Barriers Stand in the Growth of e-Readers?
As it can easily be observed, electronic readers reveal more positive effects rather than negative. Even the downsides which have been identified can easily be counteracted with sound arguments. Yet, the next question that is being posed refers to the elements which impede the rapid growth of electronic readers. Some of these reasons are succinctly revealed below:
Some consumers remain reticent to electronic reading gadgets as they remain faithful to traditional books
The rapid pace of technological development makes consumers wait for new versions as they feel that the ones they could purchase today will be outdated tomorrow
The reduced offer of electronic books in comparison to traditional books
Following on the footsteps of nearly all industries, all sectors and all features of life, the reading habits of the modern day individuals have evolved. The most recent innovation in this sense is called e-reader, and represents a device which allows users to read electronic books. Its features include user friendly interface, small size and low weight, the ability to customize the font, play audio books and so on.
While it has not been the first presence within the sector, Amazon's Kindle sure is its undisputable leader. It is however beginning to face competition from companies such as LG or Sony, but also from long time rival Barnes and Noble. E-readers generally enjoy support and reveal a series of advantages, such as being greener than books, more efficient, increasing access to books and so on. Nevertheless, they also present some limitations, such as a still reduced applicability within the educational field. The most likely outcome is that of a growing industry of electronic readers, but which will nevertheless not demise the traditional books industry.
Biggs, J., 10 Reasons to Buy a Kindle 2… and 10 Reasons Not to, Crunch Gear, 2009, http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/02/25/10-reasons-to-buy-a-kindle-2-and-10-reasons-not-to / last accessed on October 29, 2009
Eisenmann, T., Stuart, T.E., Chakravorti, B., Dessain, V., Harrow, S., Corsi, E., Orange: Read&Go, Harvard Business School, March 5, 2009
Gallagher, D., Amazon Fights to Keep Kindle on Top of E-Book Crowd, Market Watch, 2009, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazons-kindle-faces-tougher-market-this-season-2009-10-23 last accessed on October 29, 2009
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Yoffie, D.B., Kim, R., E Ink in 2008, Harvard Business School, April 15, 2009
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Never Mind Kindle -- LG's New E-Book Reader Is Solar Powered, the Guardian, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/oct/12/kindle-lg-ebook-solar last accessed on October 29, 2009