Boarding up Borders: The Death of the Paperback

Photo Courtesy of The Hampster Factor (Flickr Creative Commons)

Photo Courtesy of The Hampster Factor (Flickr Creative Commons)

After decades of numerous efforts to digitize our texts, retail markets are finally starting to fall victim to the digital paperback. According to USA Today, Borders has announced that they will liquidate more than $700 million of the company’s 259 stores’ inventory including book shelves, displays, music, videos and of course, books.


Barnes & Noble was able to survive the recent plunge of tree-killing texts by offering its answer to the Amazon Kindle, what it calls the Nook, which starts at $139, a mere $25 more than Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle.


With new tablet options abound, consumers are stuck with the decision to buy something full-color bright LCD screen such as the Apple iPad 2, or a battery-saving black-and-white maverick as Sony, Barnes and Noble and Amazon, among others, all offer now.


There are certainly advantages to both products. Google has even entered the race by adapting their popular smartphone operating system, Android, into a tablet version. Last week, CNET rated the 5 best Android tablets on the market with hardware manufacturers such as Samsung, Acer and Asus rounding out the top. Even so, most of these options will set you back $300-$600.

So which one is right for you? Well it all depends on what you plan to do. If you’re just looking for a device to head to the beach to read the latest Tom Clancy novel and maybe dabble through a few black-and-white pages of your favorite periodical, then an e-reader device will definitely save you hundreds of dollars, keep you reading without problems in the bright sunlight and give you days—if not weeks—of battery life. That’s something the tablet world can’t offer.


However, if you want to cough up a couple of car payments for a flashy tablet, then you still have options such as Apple, Blackberry and Android, all with their own successes and challenges. Apple’s technology, like Blackberry’s, is proprietary, so they are the sole manufacturer of their products. Android OS, on the other hand, is being served up by a slew of manufacturers opening up competition for the best specs at the most affordable price.


Some of the benefits of owning a tablet instead of an e-reader device are obvious. The full-color bright LCD screen, fast processor and access to hundreds of thousands of “apps” is something you won’t get from most e-readers. Although apps for those devices are popping up, they’re not nearly as robust or abundant as they are for their tablet-based brothern.


So, the decision is yours, based on what you’re looking to accomplish with your device, how much time you’ll spend using which functionalities and bottom line, how much dough you want to drop on your next tech toy.


Wi-Fi vs. 3G: One of the next options, after you’ve chosen your device, is whether you’d like the ability to connect to your content over the cloud via wi-fi or 3G. Keeping in mind, that most 3G devices will require a wireless data service provider (read cell phone carrier). The benefit of wi-fi is that more and more free hotspots are popping up. Recently Starbucks has partnered up with AT&T after realizing that charging for access at its locations was a lose-lose situation.


Regardless, either way you go, make sure you’re getting the most out of your device. Websites like will give you their unbiased comparison of many options on the market. offers tons of articles on emerging products and can help you make the best decision on what to buy.


Love your e-reader or tablet device? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your input!


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