Will e-book readers be the big thing this Christmas? Probably not this year, but there's more choice out there than you might think.
Amazon has at last brought its Kindle to these shores, although at the moment the bigger Kindle DX is only available in the USA. The Kindle is not just an electronic book though, it's more like an electronic book buyer as it allows you to buy and download e-books from Amazon using wireless 3G technology (no subscription needed and no connection charges). And at £177 it's one of the cheapest options.
The main competition comes from the Sony Pocket Edition Reader (£180), but it only holds 350 books compared with 1500 on the Kindle. Sony's new slim, all-metal, Touch Edition Reader (£250) is a much cooler touchscreen reader, but you still have to download books onto your PC and then copy them onto the device – not quite as simple as the Kindle.
Up and coming rival Cool-er E-book Reader (£189) from www.coolreaders.co.uk and Argos stores looks like a good alternative to the others, and weighing in at just 178g is only half the weight of some of its heavyweight competition. If you want wi-fi you could look at the iRex Iliad (£449) from www.iliadreader.co.uk, but it weighs a hefty 390g, not much fun if you want something lightweight to read standing up on the train every morning.
The e-book reader is becoming a serious device at last. Once (or if?) the battle of the formats is resolved, and if e-book prices follow the price reductions seen in other digital download media, we could see a big growth in this market. Just imagine all the tax annuals on one pocket-size reader!