This year’s Consumer Electronics Show has seen the unveiling of a raft of new e-readers, but the would-be Kindle and Nook competitors could have a hard go of it. First off, some are pretty pricey—that Plastic Logic Que will cost $649 without 3G, or $799 with an AT&T plan. Most don’t have the built-in market of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And then there’s the real problem: Do people want dedicated e-readers at all?
"Just being able to read a book on a device has become totally commoditized," an analyst tells CNET. Sure, there’s the e-ink factor, and many new readers have glitzy color screens. Some entrepreneurs are banking on the ebook rather than the device. Users “don't want to take another device,” says Ray Kurzweil, whose Blio focuses on getting content to existing smartphones and PCs. And then there’s the rumored Apple tablet. If it “does come out and does what’s expected,” the analyst says, “it will instantly change the game.”