Events at CES dominated ebook news this week as companies took advantage of the accompanying media attention to showcase their current and future products designed with ereading in mind. New reading devices were one of the biggest draws – notable announcements included Hearst Corp’s Skiff, the Plastic Logic QUE, the enTourage eDGe, Spring Design’s Alex and new models from Samsung and COOL-ER. Another important segment was a new class of display technologies from several companies including Qualcomm, Pixel Qi and Liquavista, all threatening to end E Ink’s dominance by offering full color and video capabilities while still being viewable outdoors and consuming much less power than LCDs. Pixel Qi’s screen tech has already been incorporated in Notion Ink’s Adam (slated for release this summer), and there are rumors about the next Kindle using Qualcomm’s Mirasol display. Engadget has a more detailed roundup of ereaders at CES here.
Blio, the new ereading software platform we told you about last week, launched their website this week. When it launches in February, the Blio reader will provide 3-D page turns, text-to-speech capabilities and a touch-enabled interface along with the access to 1.26 million ebooks, over a million of which appear to be free public domain ebooks. Blio will only run on Windows initially.
Borders announced a partnership with Spring Design to integrate their Kobo-powered ebook store with Spring Design’s Alex ereader later this year. Spring Design announced another partnership with Google that will not only allow Alex users to download and read free Google Books on the Android-based device but also allow direct access to ebooks on the Google Books website using the device’s built-in wireless capabilities.
DMC Worldwide announced plans to launch a new ’social ereading platform’ called Copia, consisting of a lineup of ereaders backed by an online store with integration with popular social network sites. The platform will go into private beta this month and is expected to launch this summer.
NewspaperDirect, an aggregator of news publications from around the world made over 1400 periodicals available on the Sony Reader and the Kindle this week. Registered users of NewspaperDirect-owned PressDisplay.com will be able to download available publications to their ereaders for a monthly fee (ranging from $10 to $30) or for a per-item charge of $0.99. The Kindle World blog has a hands-on review of their service. Calibre, a popular free ebook management application also enables users to download full news articles from over 300 sources to supported ebook readers including the Sony Reader and the Kindle.
The City of Cincinnati announced plans to purchase 10 Kindle DX units for the mayor and members of the city council, citing an expected $25,000 in annual savings due to reduced printing expenses. The plan was criticized by several officials including some members of the city council who called the purchase ‘ridiculous’ and ‘hysterical’.