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Amazon Kindle 2 Breaking The Law? And Other Hot E-Book Topics

Debating e-book competition, business use and Apple's role.

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But with questions circling about competition, productivity, business use and copyright issues, here are five topics that are going to keep the e-reader discussion humming in the next few weeks and months:

1. What Will Amazon's Rivals In E-Reading Do Next?

While Amazon rules the day with the Kindle 2.0, as we were quick to point out, there are quite a few other e-reading options out there, from slick devices to smartphone-transforming e-book applications. What are the likes of Sony, Foxit Software and iRex Technologies going to do next to keep pace with Amazon, or do they wave the white flag? And how about Google, Microsoft and other major players with at least a curiosity -- if not a full-blown stake -- in grabbing e-reader business?

2. If It Exists, Will The "Kindle-Killer" Be A Device -- Or An Application?

Earlier this week also came news from Shortcovers, an e-reading application owned by Indigo Books and Music, which is the largest book retailer in Canada. Shortcovers' handlers call it a "Kindle-killer" not because it's an equally spiffy device, but because, like other e-reading applications, it turns already popular smartphones like the iPhone and the Android into e-reading devices. Is Amazon's Kindle 2, in fact, behind the curve?

3. Does The Kindle's Speaking Feature 'Read to Me' Break The Law?

If you're the hot name in anything, you've got a target on your back. Still, the Kindle's ability to "read to you" -- that is, vocalize e-book text so you can listen to it while driving or in any other situation that would require a traditional audio book -- is stirring up plenty of trouble in the publishing industry. Tech news site Digital Trends reported some comments from publishing executives, saying Amazon failed to inform some of them that Kindle would have speaking capabilities before the Kindle 2 was made public. Now another debate begins: If the capability turns Amazon into an audio book, does it violate intellectual property rights already in place for audio book authors?

4. Does The Kindle Or Any E-Book Device Have A Business Play?

Doesn't seem like it. Despite all the obvious benefits -- space saving, reading capability, basic document management -- it can't do anything that would replace the iPhone or another smart mobile device as the mobile choice in business, and there wouldn't be much need for both devices, right?

5. Should We Still Be Holding Our Breath On An Apple-Branded E-Book Device?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an interview to The New York Times gave an interview to The New York Times in January 2008 that's become so often cited by e-book and e-reading lovers, it prompts a new cycle of largely unfounded Apple e-book speculation seemingly every month. With the iPhone amenable for so many e-book applications already, it would seem like the argument for an Apple e-book device has lost some of its luster.

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