Cyberwise: How to Choose an E-Reader

I really want to get an e-reader, but I’m not sure which one is right for me. And now with Apple’s iPad announcement, I’m even more confused. What should I be looking for?

—Anonymous
Via E-mail

The marketplace for the e-reader, or electronic book reader, is definitely crowded. Since Amazon released the Kindle (www.amazon.com; $259) and followed up with the Kindle DX ($489), everyone from Sony (Reader; www.sonystyle.com; starting at $199) to Barnes and Noble (Nook; www.barnesandnoble.com; $259) have joined in the frenzy; and now Apple’s iPad (www.apple.com; starting at $499) isn’t making it any easier for consumers to choose. Before you buy, here’s what you should keep in mind.

For starters, think carefully about what your needs are. Look for technology that does what you want it to do and that fits within your budget. Consider, for example, the total cost of owning an e-reader and if the convenience will be worth it over the life of the device and in light of the rapid pace of tech development (the time it takes for a newer iteration to make your purchase obsolete—or give you device envy). Second, shop around. Compare prices versus features of each reader you consider.

Also, think about how each company manages content on its device: What does it have access to and how do you get it? For how long do you have it? What can you do with it? What can’t you get?

Finally, and this is crucial: Read what industry professionals are saying about the device market by visiting sites such as Engadget.com and SheGeeks.net. Although e-readers aren’t new, it’s important to think about whether the device (or even the company) will exist a year or two from now. Or will you be left holding on to something like an Ergo Audrey or a Netpliance iOpener?

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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