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Yet another company has come out with an e-reader. E-Ink Corp has created a device with a six-inch screen that shows only black and white text, and has no wireless. For that, you get to pay $300.

Why would someone want to pay for a device they have to hook up to an existing laptop in order to get what they want to read? That’s like saying you’d much rather have an 8-track recorder instead of a DVR.

These kinds of devices are exactly why the e-reader market will shake out faster than most believe. E-Ink isn’t the only company pumping out e-readers with no wireless. So are companies like Booken, Cool-ER and Dittobook. These may have been okay at the dawn of the e-reader age —- which was just last year — but technology has already overtaken these relatively new offerings. Sony, IRex, Plastic Logic and First Paper will all launch wireless e-readers by early next year. CrunchPad, Dell and Apple are all rumored to be developing wireless tablets. And prices for the wireless devices are falling fast, so much so that Forrester predicts an average e-reader price of $199 nest year and $99 in 2011.

Without wireless, people can’t information when they want it. True, many of these devices were built for book readers, not for newspaper and magazine readers or those who want to surf the web. But the devices that have a chance at long-term success are the ones that allow users to perform multiple tasks at once. What would you rather do? Spend $300 on a single-use device or $399 (the rumored price) of the much ballyhooed CrunchPad?

Change is coming really fast. So fast that these e-readers with no wireless could soon be like 8-track tapes … an interesting relic well past its time.

We all know that lots of publishers are trying to determine if users will pay for the content they create. The Boston Globe has just announced it’s in the field surveying its customers on the topic.  The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Financial Times are among newspapers exploring how to reap revenue through pay systems.

But just as there are publishers exploring pay walls, there are plenty of people who don’t think that strategy will work. The debate over who’s right will rage on for a while.

So here’s a thought: Why not charge on the honor system?

Radiohead tried that approach a couple of years ago, and by all media accounts, it was a success. Yes, I know there’s a big difference — Radiohead is a popular music group and users are used to paying for music.

But I think the concept can be translated to the media business. No one can duplicate the valuable content local publishers provide to their community. Why not appeal to that community and ask it to support the news gathering efforts through whatever payment it sees fit? Remind the community that without those paid journalists, the information it now takes for granted might disappear.

How much revenue would that generate? I have no idea. I don’t know what percentage of a community might pay, and I don’t know how much they might pony up. I don’t know any of that because no one has tried anything like this before.

Maybe someone will.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone

There’s been a lot of buzz in the e-reader industry about the soon-to-be released Sony e-readers. They’ll be much cheaper than Amazon’s Kindle — news reports put the five-inch reader at $199 and the six-inch reader at about $299. Kindles range in price from $299 for the Kindle II to $489 for the DX.

The new Sony offerings, and what appears to be a more attractive price on the front end, have some believing they’ll be an immediate threat to Kindle.

Only problem is, those who think that are missing one very important point: the new Sonys, according to these reports, don’t have wireless. Kindle does. That’s a huge difference maker.

Users don’t want to be bothered with hooking their reader up to a PC and downloading books and other reading material. If a story of interest breaks, they want to be able to get the information they want from their most trusted source fast. With the Sony e-readers, you can’t do that. Now, true, if you’re a book reader, the lack of wireless may not be that big of a deal. But I don’t think users are going to want to buy one device strictly for books, and another device  for their other media needs. They’ll want one device that can do it all, and, so far that means the Kindle DX — until Crunchpad, Dell and Apple release their own tablets and readers later this year or early next.

When those companies get in the game with lower-cost wireless devices, that’s when Amazon will have to worry.

The news expressed on this blog are mine alone