Declining sales of e-reader units paired with Barnes & Noble's disappointing Nook holiday numbers have made predicting the demise of the dedicated e-reader the fashionable position in the publishing punditsphere. But not so fast! Time's always insightful gadgetologist Jared Newman has an alternate take that suggests that while e-reader sales may not be growing, their days of utility are far from over.
"[E]-readers aren’t going away anytime soon, at least not until their unique properties can be matched by inexpensive tablets. The fact that e-readers are cheap, are easy to read even in sunlight and can last for a month or two on a single battery charge means they can be nice to have around, even if you own a more expensive tablet. There’s also something to be said for their mandatory focus on reading, which eliminates the myriad distractions that tablets provide."
Newman makes the excellent point that, unlike tablet manufacturers, producers of e-readers make their money on content, not new units, so the e-reader business will remain worthwhile even as costs drop to zero.
I actually find it all a little reassuring. I've been trying to read books on my iPad lately, only to discover that I still prefer my Nook Simple Touch's e-ink screen to a Retina display that ultimately makes my own retinas ache. Also, I can't get more than a few pages on my tablet without someone making a move in Words With Friends. Heck, sometimes I think I like the Simple Touch better than print. Now if they'd only make The Death and Life of Great American Cities available digitally I'd be set.
Newsweek's first digital-only edition has dropped, and the mag is making news not for rich media bells and whistles, but for its investment in a buzz-worthy cover. While never just about grabbing eyeballs at the newsstand, magazine covers have unexpectedly retained a great deal of relevance in the digital age; from Bloomberg Businessweek's funny and provocative concepts to New York's incredibly powerful post-Sandy edition, covers have proven a reliable way to garner attention and social media buzz.