Once, a couple of years ago, I thought one would be enough, a couple of months ago it was six (although that was between two people), but then having seen the latest Amazon new Kindle Paperwhite it's now definitely seven.
However, this is not so much a blog about why you should get the new Kindle Paperwhite, but rather why my wife and I ended up with six eReaders between us.
Firstly, a little bit of history. The first Nook came out on 30 November 2009 and my wife was immediately interested in it. Firstly as a way of prolonging the day before we'd have to get a bigger house to store all the books we have, and secondly to make it easier to read the enormous fantasy tomes she was starting to get into. One problem, however, they weren't available in Australia.
On the other hand we were going to America so I got dragged into a couple of Barnes and Noble stores while she talked to the sales person about the Nook. I have to admit it wasn't that much of a trial, a whole room of history books - I was in heaven.
However, it wasn't until our return to Australia that she actually decided she would buy one. And that's when she discovered Barnes and Noble wouldn't sell to Australia at that stage. Luckily a good friend was doing a business trip to America shortly after so he was given the shopping list.
One thing that convinced my wife to purchase the Nook, rather than any other eReader was that Barnes and Noble had a much better range of books from the major publishers than anyone else. Unfortunately they refused to sell outside of America. Luckily there are ways around that little problem.
Of course once we had everything working I decided I wanted one, unfortunately our friend wasn't due to go back to America for at least another six months.
It was about that time that the first Kobo launched in Australia for $199 from Borders and Angus & Robertson. The original Kobo received a mediocre review from CNET, which said that, "while the Kobo was compact, lightweight and affordable, the lack of Wi-Fi or 3G made it outdated, especially when there were similarly priced eReaders available with those features." Regardless I wanted one.
It was pretty basic machine, but I liked that it wasn't locked into any specific store. Which was a good thing because it you weren't interested in the top 100 the range at that time was pretty slim. However, it did introduce me to those publishers such as Baen and Harlequin who were selling direct.
And then came the Kindle. This one really was a big of a surprise. I had tried to avoid Amazon simply because of their monopolistic practices, but when my wife discovered she could get one for $5 because of the points we'd earned on the plastic fantastic, well that was it. It did take me about a year to switch my affection to the Kindle, but it had a number of significant strengths over that first Kobo:
1 - it had wifi so you could purchase books from the Kindle itself,
2 - its refresh rate was much quicker, and
3 - you could email manuscripts to the Kindle and read them on screen (paperless publishing - here I come!)
At that time the Nook still had a better range of fantasy and SF authors from the larger publishers. So of course when the first touch screen Nook came out my wife wanted one. As a loving and understanding husband I of course offered to buy her one, and the fact that I was to get the old one, with access to all her library of books had only a little to do with my willingness.
So - four eBook readers. The fifth was an iPad, which I now use to check Hague Publishing's books in the Apple store and to peruse the occasional magazine. And the sixth?
The sixth was the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight which allows you to read in the dark. Once again my wife saw it and decided she needed to have one. By now I was seriously into eBook publishing so there seemed little point in arguing that she didn't need another one as she already had two (particularly as I had three).
So how may eBook readers IS enough? If I was forced into a corner I'd probably say five would do us. The iPad, two Nooks (one each), a Kindle and a Kobo. If I wasn't publishing I could probably drop either the Kindle or the Kobo, but not both. My wife won't give me access to her B&N account (too worried about me breaking it) and there are books I want to buy that she doesn't want to sully her Nook's screen (Eric Flint for one).
In part 2 I'll be covering the growth in eBook sales over the last couple of years, and what tablets seem to be doing to the eBook reader market. In the meantime you might want to read Janis Hill's comments on the pros-and-cons of ebooks