Kindle is the undisputed KING of the ebook readers. Amazon has conquered the this market so completely, that Kindle is now synonymous with ebook-readers.
But do you realize that Kindle is not the only ebook readers out there? There are a few e-readers that vigorously compete for the second spot in the ranking.
In no particular order, they are:
Kobo eReader is one of the earliest e-readers, originally released in May 2010 ( 3 years after Amazon Kindle). It can support the EPUB format ( which Amazon Kindle can’t), and it is generally viewed as a replacement for Amazon Kindle for those who don’t like Amazon. So, if you want to read Amazon ebooks on Kobo, you better have to strip off the Amazon DRM and then convert the book to EPUB format, by using tools such as DeDRM plugin in Calibre.
The latest version of Kobo is Kobo Aura.
Barnes and Noble Nook
Barnes and Noble, the famous international chain bookshop, also has its own eReader in the name of Nook.
Unlike Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble also sells color tablet under Nook brand, called Nook Tablet . But unfortunately, The Nook Tablet is a real tablet, which makes it quite hard to use as a reader.
Currently, all e-ink readers are black-and-white in nature. The comic fans around the world would definitely love an ereader that has color and is also eye-friendly. Actually such products already exist on the market, such as E Ink Triton. But unfortunately they are commercial failures.
We are still waiting for companies that can make this technology a success. During every summer since Kindle hits market, rumour mills will churn out rumours that Amazon is going to release one ecolor readers. So far they are just that– rumours. Will Barnes and Noble beat Amazon to the punch?
As a recent startup, Boox is not as famous as Amazon kindle, or Kobo, or Nook. Boox is produced by Onyx International Inc, based in China.
What is so special about Boox?
First, it is the first eReader that we know of that supports the use of a pen, as shown in the image above. You can now use a pen to highlight a paragraph, much like the nostalgic days of paper-and-pen.
Second, it’s format agnostic. Amazon supports its proprietary format AZW and MOBI, but it doesn’t support EPUB. KOBO and Nook supports EPUB, but not MOBI or AZW. But Boox supports them all!
Third, even though Boox is not an Amazon product, but you can still buy Amazon ebooks on Boox much like how you buy ebooks on Kindle. I really have to give credits to Boox developers for making this possible. For the longest time Amazon restricted the kindle app to its own devices or the tablets it sanctions, this means that you can’t buy Amazon books from KOBO and Nook. So if want to access to Amazon ebook libraries, you have no choice but have to go with Kindle. This is the reason why a lot of eReaders fail in the market; because Amazon has the biggest ebook selection and they can’t access to it. With this feature we hope that Boox can give Kindle a run for the money and thus spur the eReader innovation.
Fourth: Boox comes with 10 inch model, which is ideal for PDF reading, whereas traditional eReaders come with 6 inch model only. Amazon Kindle used to offer a model call Kindle DX, but due to some unknown reasons, it was discontinued. So Boox 10 inch model can fill this void for PDF reader.
And Lastly, you can also get Taiwan Chinese ebooks at Boox, even though Boox is manufactured by China mainland. China Communist Party government doesn’t quite like the Taiwan books due to ideological difference, and a lot of books that can be published in Taiwan can’t be obtained in China. But Boox can read both China and Taiwan books! This is amazing, not so much of the technological advancement, but because of behind force that makes crossing the ideological gulf possible– capitalism. Whenever there is business opportunity, ideological difference simply doesn’t matter.
Yuval Noah Harari said that money is simply the greatest fiction invented by human, even greater than another fiction, ideology or religion. He is right; just look at Boox.