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Kindle or iPad: A Shopper’s Conundrum

MU expert releases online buyer’s guide to e-readers and media tablets

Dec. 07, 2010

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst, hurstn@missouri.edu, 573-882-6217

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— As the holiday shopping season accelerates, many consumers are considering e-readers or media tablets as gifts. To help confused shoppers, University of Missouri digital publishing expert Roger Fidler has released his annual online e-reader buyer’s guide. Fidler compares seven e-reader models and the Apple iPad media tablet by size, weight, navigation, features, connectivity and cost, and provides information on where to find each model.

Fidler created the first e-reader prototype in 1991, when he was the Freedom Forum Media Studies Fellow at Columbia University.

Fidler created the first e-reader prototype in 1991, when he was the Freedom Forum Media Studies Fellow at Columbia University.

Fidler says consumers have more choice in models and less financial commitment this year. The top vendors for e-readers include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo, and this year, consumers can purchase them both in stores and online.

“Last year we really only had the Kindle,” Fidler said. “There were announcements of other devices but none were really accessible before Christmas. This year we have a whole array of e-readers and tablets available and the price has dropped dramatically.”

Apple’s iPad is in a category of its own as the first “media tablet.” Fidler says the iPad isn’t a direct competitor to the Kindle and other dedicated readers with electronic paper displays; however, it will likely produce a surge in demand for e-readers from shoppers discouraged by the iPad’s price tag.

For bookworms, Fidler suggests the Kindle’s electronic paper display. He says the Apple iPad is better suited for those who prefer reading digital magazines and newspapers as it provides a more visually rich presentation with its 9.7-inch, full-color, multi-touch screen and instant-on display. Fidler says both e-readers and tablets provide a better experience than reading for leisure or news on a computer or phone screen.

“When you read something on your smartphone or on the web, you’re really just snacking on the news,” Fidler said. “When you read it in print, on your e-reader or a tablet, you’re dining on the news. And that’s a very different type of reading experience.”

As program director for digital publishing at Reynolds Journalism Institute, Fidler coordinates digital publishing research projects and the Digital Publishing Alliance. He will present the results of a cross-sectional, international survey of Apple iPad users at a biannual symposium on e-readers and tablets Dec. 10 at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

To view Roger Fidler’s guide to tablets and e-readers, visit http://www.rjionline.org/digital-publishing/ereaders/stories/buyers-guide/index.php.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) engages media professionals, scholars and citizens in programs aimed at improving the practice and understanding of journalism. Part of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, RJI collaborates with news and technology companies, professional associations, foundations and individuals to generate and test innovative models and technologies for journalism and advertising. Six Donald W. Reynolds Fellows spend an academic year at RJI, working with Missouri faculty and students and RJI staff to develop new ways to gather, process, and deliver news, information and advertising. RJI was launched in 2004 with an initial $31-million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

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