Wired Ratings of E-Readers Ignites Snarkstorm

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Wired recently rated the leading eInk e-book readers and set off a storm of snarky comments that may be more enlightening, and are certainly more entertaining, than Wired‘s analysis itself. But more of that in a minute.

The analysts were in agreement about how far e-readers have come since the first generation (or second, for the Rocket Book predates the Kindle by almost a decade). “Entry-level e-readers have become better, faster, and more stylish,’ they note. “Considering their low cost, featherweight portability (6 to 7 ounces), battery life (up to a month per charge), and superior readability, it’s easy to justify having an e-reader and a tablet. Also, the lack of distractions on a dedicated reader is nice.”

Weighing the comparative merits of the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch, Sony PRS-T1 and Kobo Touch, the team reviewed such features as the gadget’s price and depth of its booktore. They also seized on the flicker factor.”Some e-readers flicker more between pages than others,” they write. “If you think a flicker is slightly annoying in the store, it will drive you absolutely nuts by page 200 of that Murakami novel.”

They rated the reading devices on a scale of 1 to 10:

1. A complete failure in every way
2. Barely functional; don’t buy it
3. Serious flaws; proceed with caution
4. Downsides outweigh upsides
5. Recommended with reservations
6. A solid product with some issues
7. Very good, but not quite great
8. Excellent, with room to kvetch
9. Nearly flawless; buy it now
10. Metaphysical product perfection

We won’t keep you in suspense, but the top-rated e-reader turns out to be…the Kobo Touch, with a rating of 8 (Excellent, with room to kvetch): “Our surprise winner is the most natural e-ink reader we’ve ever used. Its touchscreen is the fastest and most responsive, yet it’s also smart enough to ignore unwanted inputs (a common failing in this class of devices). The shopping experience isn’t as personalized or directed as Amazon’s or Barnes & Noble’s, but the store’s pricing and selection are catching up.” The kvetch? “No hardware buttons for page turns. Limited selection of periodicals. No Twitter integration.”

Alas, the Sony Reader merited only a 4: “Poky, cumbersome user interface. Disappointing store options. Expensive for what you get.” For all reviews click here. But when you’re through, keep going. The responses from readers started at vitriolic (“Is it too much to ask for basic relevance?”, “Brevity is no excuse for a level of incompetence on display here,” and “I already was pretty sure that you were a brainless blatherer when you name dropped Murakami. Then you confirmed it with ‘No Twitter integration'”) and descended to:

“Welcome to Wired…You are surprised by this ‘journalism’? You must not come here often. They have a bunch of kid contributors who are probably getting paid no better than the kids across the Pacific. Either the editors are non-existent, or they simply don’t care. It really seems sometimes these kids can write anything they want to and it just gets published.”

Richard Curtis

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Richard Curtis

About Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is a leading New York literary agent (www.curtisagency.com) who foresaw the Digital Book Revolution and launched an e-book publishing company early in 2000. E-Reads (www.ereads.com) is one of the foremost independent e-book publishers in the industry, specializing in reprints of genre fiction by leading authors in their fields. Curtis is also a well-known authors advocate, author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including several books about the publishing industry, and prolific blogger – see his hundreds of other blog posts here.

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