Lumberjacks beware; owners love their e-readers

The NPD Group surveyed over 1,000 owners of e-reader devices, such as the Kindle, and found the overwhelming number of them love to read on the gadgets.

Tree huggers rejoice.

E-readers are a hit, or rather 93 percent of owners surveyed by research company, The NPD Group, say they are "very satisfied" with their device. Only 2 percent of buyers reported being dissatisfied, according to the research firm.

What this means is that technology appears to be improving upon an information-distribution system nearly 4,000 years old. It also means that book publishers better get on the ball.

Most of those surveyed owned either an Amazon Kindle or a Sony Reader, the leaders in the e-reader space, Ross Rubin, NPD's executive director of analysis, told CNET. Owners of e-readers are clamoring for more tech , not less of it, according to the data.

A man reads his Kindle on a New York subway. Greg Sandoval/CNET

NPD said 60 percent of owners said wireless access was their favorite feature while 23 percent enjoyed the touch screen best. Rubin said that many of those surveyed want to see even more improvements, such as color print and graphics and brighter screens.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who knows some annoying person who will go on--usually inarticulately-- about how paper books are just superior to gadget readers. A woman I know who is highly anti-tech recently told me she preferred a paper book because it's easy on the eyes, is easy to carry and can be read under heavy sun. She said if she loses a book, it's no big financial loss. "It just works for me," she said.

That's fine, but could the experience be improved? I told her that Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader, the devices owned by most of the people surveyed, feature E-ink technology in their display screen. Most computer screens are back-lit and not only is that tough to look at for long periods but it's also hard to see the screen in bright light.

What E-ink does is manipulate tiny cells full what is essentially ink and paper, so it's as easy on the eyes as reading a book and seeing the words is a cinch while reading at the beach. Check that one off.

As for size, I carry eight books in my iPhone, which is equipped with Amazon's Kindle-reader software. A Kindle device can carry more than 200 books and weighs 10 ounces, or about the same as one paperback.

Apple's iPad, which was announced last week, is supposed to be a Kindle-killer . It comes with a large--albeit back-lit screen--but the device also connects to the Web, plays movies, music and games. Although most e-reader owners surveyed aren't using their devices for much else but reading, according to Rubin.

"Consumers are focusing on the book reading aspects," Rubin said. "They aren't using them for surfing the Web or playing back music."

 

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