The new Sony Reader ebook reading device to be released this spring is poised to be the first widely successful ebook reader. I know first hand because I have one of the last generation of readers and the Sony Reader solves three of the main faults of previous readers. I now these issues first hand because these were the faults of the RCA book reader I owned a few years ago.
Screen: The RCA version used a backlit LCD screen that was heavy, hungry and hard to see. The glass panel screen added considerable weight to the unit making it difficult to hold with one hand. The backlit LCD screen also required relatively large rechargeable batteries. This added bulk and weight to the reader. The new Sony Reader uses electronic paper that only sips power to change the screen image (turn the page) This means smaller rechargeable batteries last a long time. Also the high contrast electronic ink display features much higher contrast making it much easier to read text from it.
Batteries: The last generation of readers that used LCD screens used heavy rechargeable batteries. The Sony Reader uses lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged by an AC adapter or USB cable in 4-6 hours.
Weight: The previous versions were a good step forward. The ability to carry 10-12 books in a relatively small if heavy form factor was fantastic. This version weighs less then 9 ounces. That's less than a can of soda. The device is said to hold up to 80 books with more possible through memory cards. This could do for books what then iPod did for music. Imagine carrying around a large portion of your library much like you carry your music collection in your iPod?
Anybody who says they wouldn't like it, they'd miss paper pages, they can't curl up with a screen, etc. has never tried it. I enjoyed a number of books on my RCA reader. I used it on airplanes. I curled up with it at bedtime. All the while I enjoyed being able to switch between a whole collection of books. To the doubters I say don't knock it until you try it.