Will next-gen e-readers disrupt magazine publishing?

Can e-readers be more than a one-trick pony? Or will Apple's iSlate set the bar for a new medium?

This week at CES, there's been a number of new e-readers announced, including Hearst Corporation's Skiff, Spring Design's Alex, Copia's slew of e-readers, and Plastic Logic's Que, as well as many others. Meanwhile Amazon's Kindle DX has gone global wireless, and Barnes & Noble is still hoping to get its Nook act together with higher-volume shipments.

While it's great to see innovation in e-readers, even more interesting is the potential of these devices to provide a new medium for magazines and newspapers. Publishers have had a heckuva time in the last few years with declining revenues, loss of daily papers, and an expectation that content on the Web is free. Heaven knows they need to do something to reinvent the future of publishing.

[ Also on InfoWorld, Zack provides an overview of disruption in "Disruption as a business strategy" | Keep up with the latest open source news with InfoWorld's open source newsletter and topic center. ]

The larger form factor of the Kindle DX, Skiff, and Que takes these devices beyond the paperback format of the original Kindle and Sony e-readers and could open up a new market -- but only if they can deliver an experience that is better, or at least more convenient, than the Web. What might that look like?

Well, the smart folks over at Popular Science and Sports Illustrated have put together a couple of videos demonstrating what a magazine reading experience could look like on a next-generation e-reader tablet. I have to say it's pretty impressive. If you're skeptical (who wouldn't be?), take a peek and consider what advantages such as a user interface has over a traditional Web approach.

The only problem is I'm not sure how well the current generation of black-and-white e-ink e-readers can deliver on this experience. Actually, the current technology doesn't have a hope in hell on delivering this kind of experience. But a color tablet, whether from Apple or running Windows, Ubuntu or Android, could be just what's needed.

What do you think?  Black-and-white e-ink or general-purpose color tablet?

You can follow my blog posts on technology at www.twitter.com/zurlocker.

This story, "Will next-gen e-readers disrupt magazine publishing?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com.

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