Open Question: All-in-One Devices or Single Use E-Readers?

Comparisons between the Kindle and the iPhone often touch on functional differences: the Kindle is a dedicated reading device with a few extra features; the iPhone is a bundled gadget that can serve as an e-reader.

The gap between single- and multi-use devices raises key questions about the future of e-readers and ebooks:

  • When it comes to reading digital books, do consumers prefer a dedicated device or an all-in-one gadget?
  • Is the market big enough to support both types of devices?

On the Print is Dead blog, Jeff Gomez says dedicated e-readers work well for book reading:

One thing that I don’t mind about the Kindle is that it’s an extra device. I used to think that I wanted an integrated device — one thing that did everything — and that I wouldn’t want to carry around yet another device or gadget. But I actually like the fact that the Kindle is (more or less) just a device for the reading of content. Maybe this harkens back to the fact that every book is a destination; you get into bed and pick up a book because you want to read. You don’t pick up a book to take pictures, record video or get your voicemail. So the fact that I don’t use the Kindle to play solitaire is fine with me. True, that means I can’t read something if I leave the house and have just my cell phone in my back pocket. But then again, a cell phone screen is too small, and most books are too big, so carrying a Kindle seems the right compromise.

Alison Flood from The Guardian casts a vote for bundled devices:

I’m waiting for an e-reader that bundles many uses into one: music player, phone, BlackBerry, internet, ebooks. That’s what will really make the market take off. Of course they won’t ever replace books, but then they’re not meant to. It’ll be something new and different and very exciting. Just don’t drop it in the bath.

Which type of device do you prefer? Please share your thoughts in the comments area.

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