7 Reasons Why eReaders Make Bad Gifts This Year

I feel bad for writing an anti-Lance Ulanoff post.  I follow Lance over on, but I couldn't stop myself from flat out disagreeing with almost everything he said in this post. (Sorry Lance!).

 So here's my top 7 reasons why you should stay away from eReaders this 2009 Christmas!

1. Single Function (No Matter How Good) Is Passé
I can't deny the allure of the Kindle – it's thin, delivers on the promise of the best e-reader experience, but it's just an e-reader.  I had convinced myself that I really wanted one of these…but that was back when they weren't available up here in Canada.  Now that they are, and I had to “seriously” think about buying one, I realized this purchase would not be consistent with the trend to convergence that both I, and the rest of the gadget loving world has signaled as being the “path to goodness”.  Single Function Devlces are a tough sell.  My cell phone runs applications, serves as a camera on the go, and provides untethered access to all my digital assets and personas in the “cloud”.  I have a Netbook that I use for more “serious computing” – whether it's pounding out a blog entry or running laps on my “social media” circuit…Room for another electronic device? I think not….
2. There Is A Better Way Of Travelling With Reading Material
How many books do you typically pack on a typical trip? Lance talks about the benefit of holding 1500 books, or multiple issues of the New Yorker in his beloved Kindle.  Granted I am not a “jet setting road warrior”, but I do my share of travelling and quite frankly, though a voracious reader, when travelling on business or pleasure, 1-2 books are more than enough.  At a time when a significant amount of my reading is done “online”, and even offline reading time is competing against listening to “audio books” during the daily commute, eReaders are cool gadgets, but not a “must have” by any means.
3. The Price Is NOT Right On E-Readers
For the price of an e-Reader, I can buy a cutting edge NetBook.  At the $200-$400, in this type of financial climate, it's tough to justify this type of investment in a piece of hardware in a category that

Gartner itself admits needs to drop closer to $99 to gain significant adoption. 
4. Reading An E-Book Is Not The Same As The Real Thing
Maybe I am “just” old enough to be someone who will never be able to move away from the tactile feel of a book in their hands as an essential element of the reading experience.   But it's not just the sound of the crisp pages or the scent of ink and the printed page – besides, you can get that in a can thanks to advances in technology.  What you typically lose with e-Readers is the preservation of formatting and pagination.  I never realized how significant the loss of pagination would be – on a device where page and font size are controlled by you the user, references to chapter/page numbers become often impossible to follow or share.   Depending on what you are reading, this could be a compromise that you won't be willing to make…
5. Like Sharing Books With Friends, Family Or Co-Workers? Look Elsewhere..
I know I'm going to get flamed for this one by someone who will REMIND ME, that I can share, for example, a Kindle e-Book with another Kindle user.  But come on, how realistic is that? I review many of the books I read on sites like LinkedIn thanks to ReadingList by Amazon, and also frequently lend out books. If I could afford to buy a whack of Kindle's so I could just throw one on a co-workers desk every time I am sharing something out….I might think different. (But probably not)
6. Demand For e-Books “tepid” – People Still Want Real-Books!
Much has been discussed about the newest e-Reader on the block, The Nook from Barnes & Noble – the fact is the Kindle pulled this trick previously.  Announce a product that you haven't manufactured enough of (to even fulfill requests from media/reviewers) in order to perpetuate the illusion that demand is outstripping supply.  The fact is people still want real books, and the deep discounts typical in the major book retailers of late means that you can often get the “real book” cheaper than the e-Book. Long live books! 
7.E-ink is old news and hardly Cutting Edge
I would want a lot in my e-Reader – it would need to allow me to surf the web, providing a premium experience.  Ideally it would have a touch screen and enough capacity for not just my eBooks, but my audio books, and perhaps even other media (like music, photo's and movies).  I also want colour – and quite frankly, the convergence between my NetBook and the e-Reader starts to become something that sounds much more interesting and exciting.  I think the big player may have yet to move in….I thought it might be Microsoft that stepped up to leapfrog the competition, but unless they have something going on that I have not heard about (possible, but not probable)…

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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