With the rise of the Internet age and digital media and so much of the world's information available online, it is a completely natural progression to see books and periodicals looking to find a new footing in electronic formats. An eBook, short for electronic book, is any written material similar in content and presentation to that of a printed book or magazine, but delivered digitally or electronically.
An eBook reader is, most simply put, any device which can be used to read eBooks. An eBook reader can be as simple as the cellphone or PDA on which a Japanese subway rider reads the latest cell phone novel, or as advanced as the home computer on which an eBook reader can click his way through the pages of PDFs or works in other formats.
For most of the early years of digital media, these were the primary options for consumers interested in an eBook reader. The biggest benefit of eBooks is the tiny space required, compared to a paper product. But issues like screen glare and the prohibitive cost of the technological toys needed to read eBooks kept the eBook reader from finding a better suited gadget on which to read them.
Then things got interesting with the release of Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and a handful of other devices built specifically to serve as eBook readers. Using a technology known as e-ink, new types of portable eBook reader attempt to provide readers with a reading experience as comfortable as reading a printed page, but with the convenience of Internet era bells and whistles like font-size adjustment, electronic bookmarks that never fall out, and instantaneous access to the world's largest libraries and bookstores online.
While far more expensive than a single dog-eared paperback from the local used bookstore, an eBook reader is more environmentally friendly than a store full of dead tree books. Plus, they contain far more reading material at a fraction of the weight and size required in print. The downside is, as with any emerging technology, the cost and the delicacy.
Will eBook readers replace printed books as the summery beach reading choice of the future? No one can tell as of yet. But eBook readers have already developed a loyal following of dedicated consumers. They are here to stay, and destined to become as vital a part of any reader's arsenal as mp3 players have become to music lovers.