I’ve been feeling sort-of guilty for a few years now because I started reading electronically over ten years ago, first on my Palm Pilot, then on my cellphone.  Then, when dedicated e-readers emerged, I finally thought I’d better put my money where my profession lived, and buy one of the damned things.

I didn’t actually buy one, in the end.  I got a Sony reader for Christmas.  Although if you want to stretch the point, I did end up buying it, really.  The money comes out of the same bank account.

Long story short, that ereader didn’t last the year.  The battery fritzed before the next Christmas rolled around.  And I was never all that impressed with the software that managed the books.  But it did get me over to the ePub format for ebooks, so that’s a positive. It also introduced me to Calibre, the electronic ebook library management software, which has been a godsend.

But I was incredibly grateful when I could head straight back to my cellphone to read books, and load up the latest ereading software for every format out there, including Kindle. I could relax and enjoy my reading once more.  Why?

  1. My cellphone reads any format ebooks I come across
  2. I always have it with me.
  3. It’s always charged.
  4. I can whip it out and read in line-ups
  5. I can read one-handed.
  6. It’s back-lit
  7. It does a heap of other things besides read books, including remind me to stop reading, when I really need to go on to something less important, like, oh, that work thing.
  8. It also plays music.
  9. And take photos…and you get the idea.

A couple of years ago on this blog I ran a long series of posts on the available types of ereaders, including laptops, cellphones, tablets, ereaders…the lot.  It was one of the most popular series on the blog, and got a heap of traffic.  I have considered updating the series, and even did a bit of research into ereaders.  That’s when I decided there was no way I’m going to do a series on ereaders.

There are simply dozens, if not hundreds of the buggers out there now.  I could spend weeks updating everyone on ereaders and when I was done, the series would already be out of date.  Ereaders are evolving and emerging that fast.

But…I don’t think a series on ereaders is actually worth while doing at all.  Because I’ve noticed what I think is a quietly emerging trend.  I don’t think people are buying ereaders anymore.  I think people are starting to do what I did two years ago, only they’re doing a scaled-up version of it.

People are buying mini-tablets.

The iPad2 -- note the Kindle logo on the screen.

Apple made this possible with their iPad, which revolutionized hand-held computing.  But the iPad was clunky, expensive, and people had to wrap their heads around the whole concept and get used to it.  Well, they’ve done that.  And while they were doing that, the rest of the computing world caught up.  Including Apple, which just brought out the iPad2, which is sleeker, quicker, and a bit more reasonable in price.  It also…very important…carries the Kindle software, as well as it’s own ereader software.  Plus you can load any other software you like onto the iPad.

That makes the iPad an ereader that can handle any ebook format you throw at it, plus it can do anything else you want it to do, including play music, take photos, plus it’s back-lit, will remind you to stop reading, will handle email, the internet, and much, much more…

The Acer Tablet -- Also note the Kindle and other ereading software bundled together

While Apple were refining and producing the iPad 2, Acer, a manufacturer of reasonably priced computers and laptops, grabbed hold of the idea of hand-held computing and combined it with the Android platform, an open-source programming code that hackers and programmers just adore.  They just brought out the Acer mini-tablet, which isn’t much bigger than the iPad 2 in physical size.  It is also four times cheaper than the cheapest version of the iPad 2.    The Acer tablet also carries Kindle ereading software, plus any other software you care to load onto it.  Plus it’s backlit, will remind you to stop reading, plays music, reads email, accesses the internet and much, much more….

There are other mini-tablets out there, and I’m certain that every computer manufacturer will hop into the market with their version.  HP have one, for instance, but the price is exhorbitant, and performance is so-so, while the size isn’t impressive enough to call it a hand-held anything.

The Acer Tablet and the iPad2 are small enough to be considered hand-helds, while being powerful enough to have real computer characteristics.  These two, and any others that follow, will pave the way for the next revolution in ebook reading.

Or at least, that’s what I think, anyway.