Before You Buy An eReader This Holiday Season...

Yahoo Tech has an interesting story out that talks about how eReaders are going to be a major holiday item this year. "Electronic readers could be the hottest gift this holiday season as a new crop of portable media devices begins to join iPods and other music players as must-have tech accessories."  For those of you who are not familiar with eReaders, they are the thin, book-sized devices that use e-ink to display text and graphics on a screen.  Amazon's Kindle is probably the most famous one. But before you rush out to your favorite retailer to purchase one of these for yourself or a loved one, make sure you do your homework.  The fact is that not all eReaders are the same and there are tradeoffs with every one.  Of special importance is the library and format of material available for each reader.  Many of the new books are adopting the ePub format, but there are many units that do not yet support that format.  Or they do, but only for public domain titles.  More recent books are typically protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the DRM restricts how or where you use the material.  Books purchased on Amazon's site for the Kindle won't work on Sony's eReader, for example.  Barnes and Noble is coming out with their unit next year and you can use your cell phone now to read their titles, but you can't use it on many eReaders, including the Kindle.

Our Take: Make sure you do your homework and understand that a decision about one unit over another may just lock you in to one source of material.  This is not dissimilar to the early days of digital music players like the iPod.  If you decide to upgrade your eReader in the future and decide to change brands, you may not be able to use previously purchased material, so think ahead before you buy.