Evolution of eReaders: Amazon Kindle completes 12 years in the market

Kindle, over the past decade, has inspired a dozen eReaders like Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, to the delight of bibliophiles who would never have to carry bulky books around anymore.

To be sure, Apple launched iPad in 2012, which was the beginning of the era of tablets. But for true-blood book lovers, eReaders have been the first choice. The secret is its display.

eReaders spot E-Ink display which resembles real paper, can be viewed from wide angles and is extremely low power consuming (more in the box). For this reason, eReaders is the trusted device for long-haul reading.

Over the years, eReader platforms have also matured to support newspapers, magazines and just about any digital text file on the eReader device. They support special file formats like EPUB, PRC, PDB and BBeB.

Even as eReaders have evolved with longer battery lives and internet connectivity, their market has shrunk.  

The use-case is increasingly served by cheaper tablets and large-screen smartphones, which offer ton of extra functionalities.

But there is something about having a lone device for reading and eReaders continue to find their audience. It is novelty.

e-Ink Display 

The display has become the defining hallmark of eReaders. The technology was developed and patented in 1997 by MIT researchers J D Albert & Barrett Comiskey and Joseph Jacobson, who later started E Ink Corp. Sony was the first to bring e-Ink technology to eReaders, while Motofone F3 was the first phone to have it. Unlike LED or LCD, which have light emitting diode, eReaders have tiny microcapsules suspended in a liquid medium behind the screen. The capsules contain positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. Applying a negative electrical field causes the white particles to come to the surface. Conversely, applying a positive electrical field causes the black particles to come to the surface. By applying different fields at various parts of a screen, e-ink produces a text display.

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