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image Jane at Dear Author, the romance novel site, offers an excellent guide to the current crop of e-books—-but warns that shoppers might do well to wait until next year when better technology shows up.

I agree despite the existence of spiffy new gizmos like Barnes and Noble’s Nook, shown here. The reason isn’t just the expected Apple tablet, which should be good for a bunch of tasks, not just book-reading. My guess is that a slew of e-readers will be out with Pixel Qi technology. PixelQi will let one screen work in an E Ink-style mode (low power consumption, high resolution) or a traditional LCD one (color).

image So what does that mean? Well, B&N Nook, which includes a small color screen to go with the E Ink one, might not seem so hot with all the Pixel Qi-based competition I anticipate (nothing definite here, just clues from Pixel QI).

I also wonder about the recently unveiled EnTourage eDG e-reader/netbook, another two-screened creature. What’s the use of LCD and E Ink in one reader if Pixel  QI can handle both modes well well?

image Of course, factors such as the number of books available should also matter, not just the capabilities of the hardware.

Amazon might be the winner in the numbers game if you exclude the hundreds of thousands of public domain books that the Nook can access. But that could change and maybe already has if you go by the B&N line.

At any rate, keep in mind the e-book-capable Apple tablet on the way; and besides, a Kindle-capable app should be available for it.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised if a widely circulated Adobe reader app for the Apple will appear and be able to read books in ePub. A German reader for Adobe-DRMed ePub books on the iPhone has already been announced, one more sign that the ePub standard is winning over large publishers.

What’s more, Adobe and B&N are apparently moving toward a common DRM system for ePub. Amazon may well find it harder in the future to compete with Kindle-only books and may well adopt ePub. With or without Adobe DRM? I don’t know—just that if Jeff Bezos were really smart and wanted to disrupt the competition, he’d back off from DRMed books, the way he did from DRMed music. Or he could use social DRM. If the big houses didn’t go along, Jeff could think seriously about playing up books from more enlightened smaller publishers. Talk about all the changes that just might be ahead, or at least should!

Meanwhile Amazon’s Kindle reading apps for the PC—downloadable in November, with a Mac version coming a few months later—should help you buy a little time, if you’re insistent on reading Kindle-format books but don’t want to buy a an actual Kindle right now.

And for ePub and Adobe-DRMed ePub, Sony offers a desktop reading app for PCs and Macs.

Bottom line: Think twice before locking into 2009 products, at least dedicated e-reading hardware, when the 2010 variety could be so much better. If nothing else, remember that a netbook or general-purpose tablet might be best for you both today and in 2010.

Related: E-book comparison matrix from DealNews, via D.A. Also see Technologizer’s cheat seet (via Reading 2.0 list).

 
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