What Is an EBook Reader, and How Does It Work?

What is an eBook reader and how does it work?

This is the first in a week-long series of articles on eBook readers, from Amazon’s Kindle to newer models like Barnes and Noble’s “Nook”. We’ll be looking at each device in detail and talking about how various types of eBook readers work.

What is an eBook Reader, how much does an eBook reader cost, and how does an eBook reader work?

To get started on the right foot, let’s describe what an eBook reader is, how much it costs, and how it works.

An “eBook reader” is a device used to display eBooks. Technically any device that can display lengthy text can work as an eBook reader, including PDAs and some cellphones. The difference between these devices (not dedicated solely to displaying eBooks) and the more formal “eBook readers” that were designed with eBooks in mind is how well they work. eBook readers like the Kindle were meant for reading on, and are therefore blessed with longer battery life and high tech features that make reading an eBook easier and more enjoyable. Sure — you can read eBooks on your PDA, but the screen won’t be very big and you won’t be utilizing the coolest feature of eBook readers–something called E Ink.

What is E Ink?

E Ink is to paper what your Blackberry is to an old rotary phone. E Ink refers to the display portion of an eBook reader. It is the area that displays text–where the “paper” would be in an old book, you have a screen that is composed of millions of tiny particles that display text. E Ink is a remarkable thing and it has only been around for about a decade. Originally developed at MIT, E Ink is like a computer screen that uses a tiny fraction of a normal monitor’s power.

How do eBook readers work?

So how do eBook readers work? eBook readers have pricetags from about $400 for the latest and greatest Kindle up to $1500 or more for the top-end Flepia reader. That may sound expensive, but Flepia is the best of the best–featuring a color screen, touchscreen capabilities, high speed Internet access, and Bluetooth adaptability .

Once you’ve picked the eReader of your choice, you can access various booksellers via the Internet. No need to plug your eReader into your computer–most devices on the market today download content using a wireless modem.

How much do eBooks cost?

The eBooks themselves range in price from $0.99 on up. Depending on the type of eBook you’re buying, you may find yourself shelling out big bucks for college textbooks (many of which are available in this format) or for proprietary information. The most expensive eBook I’ve ever seen is a text on nuclear engineering that came in just under $7,000.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I own an Amazon Kindle. I may be a bit biased, but my Kindle is a kind of miracle–I love being able to look at free samples of books the way I would at the library or bookstore before purchasing a text. Other benefits of an eReader device (from a guy who uses one everyday)–a large chunk of my library can come with me to the coffee shop, the screen is super easy to read, and it recharges quickly.

In the coming week we’ll be taking a look at a few specifics about eBook readers. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article — a look at the Barnes and Noble Nook eReader.

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