Electronic books improving in quality and price

FRESNO, Calif.

Consumer Reports says e-book readers have improved and prices are dropping. The Kindle that cost $259.00 last year now sells for as low as $139.00.

More than half the people in this book group use an e-book reader. They like that the screen is easy to read and you can take it anywhere.

Ellie Schoenbaum said, "You know, going on trips, we used to carry a separate suitcase between my husband and I ... of all the books we wanted to read. And he has a Kindle and I have a Kindle and it was just nothing."

Consumer Reports tested the Kindle, along with more than a dozen e-readers, including the Nook from Barnes and Noble.

Testers evaluated the ease of reading and downloading books, and how fast the pages turn.

Most of the readers, including the Kindle and the Nook, use e-ink technology, which is only black and white. Others use a backlit LCD screen like a laptop. They can display color and, unlike e-ink, you won't need a light to read them in the dark. But they have a problem outdoors.

Rich Fisco said, "I'd say that the color screens are almost impossible to read outdoors. On the other hand, the e-ink screens are almost like reading a real book."

In the end, Consumer Reports gave top-ratings to the $189.00 3G Kindle.

Paul Reynolds said, "It's the best reader we've ever tested. The type is crisp and easy to read. The battery life is outstanding, as is the speed of the page turns."

But you can save money buying the $139.00 Kindle, which is identical to the 3G Kindle except you can only download content via Wi-Fi.

"We also recommend the Barnes and Noble Nook," said Reynolds. "It doesn't score quite as high as the Kindle, but you can use it to download free library books. The Kindle doesn't accept library books."

Barnes and Noble also has a color Nook that sells for $249.00. Consumer Reports will be testing it soon.

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