Monday, November 2, 2009

E-Readers May Not Solve Publisher Woes Yet

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Publishers hoping to halt a slide in sales with new electronic reading devices will struggle to get consumers to embrace them until the technology improves, experts say.

The gadgets — such as Amazon.com’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s new $259 Nook — have created an enormous buzz in the publishing world and marketers hope they will become popular Christmas gifts.

In some respects the new devices still compare unfavorably to the tactile experience of the printed page and lack multiple functions of more advanced technology such as smartphones, industry experts say.

Joe Wikert of O’Reilly Media, a publishing company and media consultant firm, said e-readers are mostly “one-trick ponies,” an extra device with only one function, in contrast to multifaceted products such as Apple’s iPhone.

So far, e-readers mostly provide “static reproductions of the print version,” minus the advantages of hard-copy books that readers have grown accustomed to over the years, such as easily being able to pass a book on to a friend, Wikert said. The Nook, however, lets users share books.

Still, 2009 sales of e-readers are expected to reach 3 million units, according to Forrester Research.

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