When Will E-Readers Evolve?

Stephen Marche is disappointed by the Kindle’s lack of development:

The smartphone has become more magical every six months or so. The Kindle and various competitors compete for price point and a few little screen details and virtually nothing else. I am certainly not like Andrew Piper at Slate, who recently argued that e-reading isn’t reading at all. But on the other hand the experience of reading a book on an e-reader is significantly more irritating if you are reading for meaning. E-readers are designed for people who consume books. If you’re knocking back a thriller that you can’t put down, they’re perfect. If you’re reading a book that you have to try to understand, they’re dreadful.

Clearly the focus of their development has been to replace mass-market paperbacks. E-readers are not designed for people who interpret books. No effort has been put into design questions for serious readers, for people who try to figure out the meaning of texts. They are hard to flip back to an old section and they are still awkward for note-taking. … I’m not giving up my beloved Kindle because I’m particularly in love with paper. I’m giving it up because it fails to do what I need it to do.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is giving away free Nook Simple Touch e-readers to anybody who buys a Nook HD+ tablet. Jeremy Greenfield smells desperation:

The margins on these devices are already razor-thin. The company, having sold far fewer e-readers and tablets than expected during the 2012 holiday season, is likely in need of getting rid of excess inventory. This is a very bad sign for the continued viability of the device business struggling bookseller. One digital media observer noted in a recent blog post that he saw a similar pattern of discounting and giveaways right before HP killed off its tablet business.