Amazon threatens to introduce a new digital book reader on Monday 11/19/2007. There are a few photos on the web of what it might look like.
I can't believe they'll introduce anything so ugly as this photo on engadget: http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/11/amazon-kindle-meet-amazons-e-book-reader/.
I've seen and held Sony's new e-reader: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=16184&XID=O:sony%20ebook:corp_read_gglsrch, and if it had web access for downloading books I would get one for my wife, an avid book reader. I see the potential market when I scan the airport while waiting to catch a plane. The smart ones have brought a book to read. Of course these things will have to be allowed on planes.
The device would also need to have a "look" perhaps like a high quality book. Maybe a stiff leather cover you can break in, that folds back behind the "book". Less buttons and more page. Facing pages, perhaps dual screens. A touch interface that interprets finger swipes/gestures that book readers intuitively use to work their way through a book. I'd buy one if it was that cool, and even more so if it fit in a suit pocket.
I'll even go farther to predict that once we get the device right those brick and mortar book stores will fade away. The CD stores have certainly disappeared from the malls since the original ipod came out. Once we can buy our book media like we can buy our music, and even find free public domain books to read, we will. Of course the generations that grew up with real books won't give them up easily. Our children's children may never hold a real book.
My last prediction? E-reader and e-book both suck as names. No young person uses the terms LP or Record or cassette or 8-track when talking about their music. We mention MP3s and downloads, iPods and (generic) MP3 players, and some still speak of CDs. I'm not sure what it will be called, but stories you carry with you on your digital book need a cooler name. No, not iBook. ;-)