A Business Case for the Kindle (and Other E-Readers)

Last Updated Jul 11, 2010 10:59 PM EDT

E-Readers like Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook are not quite as new as they seem. Sony's Reader debuted way back in 2006, and it wasn't even the first portable electronic book reader. Most folks tend to see these devices as consumer gadgets, but some schools and companies are tentatively exploring their use on a limited basis. So what's the business case for e-readers, really?


Recently, Julie Sartain at PC World considered a few solid reasons why businesses should consider adopting e-readers to replace buying paper books, manuals, and other dead trees. Here's what she contends:

They're the right size. If employees are already trying to read stuff electronically, laptops and netbooks are bulky and clumsy. Phones are too small. Likewise, 800-page reference manuals are equally cumbersome. E-readers are just right.

They're affordable. Not only are the cost of the devices plummeting (both the Kindle and Nook have hit $150), but e-books are around $10 each. Paper versions of textbooks, tech manuals, and reference books are very costly, suggesting that you'll see an ROI after buying just a handful of electronic books.

E-books are cheaper to distribute. Especially for internally produced documentation and literature, it's already cheaper to distribute documents on e-readers than to print, bind, and ship traditional paper.

Updates are easy. When your books and other documents are software, shipping updates and corrections is virtually free -- especially compared to printing and distributing documents on paper.