With close to 50 e-book readers crowding the market, a price war may have been inevitable. But some industry observers say it was Apple's successful introduction of the iPad tablet computer—3 million sold in the first 80 days—that got Barnes & Noble to cut the price of its standard Nook e-reader from $259 to $199 on June 21. Hours later, Amazon's Kindle went from $259 to $189.
The iPad, which can do much more than provide reading material, sells for $499 and up. Those prices, too, may drop as other tablets emerge.
Meanwhile, if all you really want to do is read on the beach, consider that in bright sun e-readers' E Ink displays are easier to see than the backlit LCD screens featured on iPads.
*This technology guide was written by George Blooston, Peter Brown, Ron Burley, Ty Burr, Tim Carman, Annie Gottlieb, John A. House, Sharon Kay, Dolly Setton, and Abby Stokes. Consulting editor: Peter Brown.