Lately I’ve been regretting getting rid of some of the smaller ebook readers that I’ve owned over the years, like the 5-inch Sony PRS-350 and the 4.3-inch Pyrus Mini (pictured left).
Their smaller size made them super portable, especially the Pyrus Mini. It comfortably fit into a pocket so it was easy to take everywhere.
Unfortunately there aren’t any ebook readers available anymore with an E Ink screen smaller than 6-inches.
There are a few hybrid devices, like the Oaxis Inkcase and Yotaphone, and you can even buy 4.3″ E Ink screens on Amazon, but there aren’t any available as ebook readers.
Not everyone wants a phone with an E Ink screen or a case for a phone. A simple small-screen ereader designed for portability would do just fine.
There used to be quite a few options for smaller ereaders with the Sony Pocket, the Kobo Mini, the Cybook Opus, the Pyrus Mini, and PocketBook 360. Now there’s nothing.
There’s been more interest and development in larger E Ink ereaders lately, but there’s a place for smaller ereaders too. 6-inches is a good average size, but it’s still a little too large to comfortably slip into a pocket to take with you everywhere.
Phones and tablets come in a wide variety of sizes so why not ebook readers too?
We’ll probably see such a device when color reflective displays are used on phones. Ten years?
Sure we can always speculate. I personally don’t think they will ever solve the display rate issue on color reflective displays. Color reflective technologies will benefit e-reader type applications (i.e. super fast refresh not needed) but not smartphones.
Note from Wikipedia:
“Electronic paper technologies have a very low refresh rate compared to other low-power display technologies, such as LCD. This prevents producers from implementing sophisticated interactive applications (using fast-moving menus, mouse pointers or scrolling) like those common on standard mobile devices.”
I can see two reasons for this:
1) Smaller e-Readers would tend to be crowded out by people reading on their smartphones (similar screen size, and near-ubiquitous market penetration).
2) 6″ eReaders are getting smaller. My new 6″ Kepler Pro is roughly the same size as my original 5″ PB 360 (slightly longer, but also slightly narrower and thinner).
Whilst these factors don’t eliminate the market for <6" eReaders, it would tend to 'squeeze' it quite strongly. The result is diminishing sales, and thus a diminished budget for developing new products for this market.
I’m guessing smartphones alone provide enough reason for manufacturers to let go of small e-ink devices… serious readers are gonna carry a bigger one, and smartphones do fine for casual readers…
It would be a tiny sub-niche within the e-Reader niche… but maybe somebody can make a buck doing it, I don’t know anything about that aspect…
You can still pick up Pocketbook Minis (new) and Kobo Minis (Refurbished) on Aliexpress.
Also, Banggood is still selling Wexler Flex Ones (extremely small, light 6″).
But the fact that these products are essentially in the ‘Remainder Bin’ is probably a strong indication to any manufacturer thinking about creating a new product that sufficient demand quite simply isn’t there in this niche.
Ben M says
Hello, maybe someone can help me! I am an American tourist in Holland. I bought an ereader off of Amazon but they do not ship here! So I sent it to my house and had it shipped to me poste restante, at a package place. When the package was delivered the post office said that they want a tax paid on it. No one told me about that. The package place said they would not pay it. So the post office, instead of holding it for me to pay the tax, just shipped the ereader back to the States! Talk about bad business sense! Now I don’t know how to get my ereader sent to me! You see, Holland got rid of their post offices and now only use independent contractors who do not fully understand their own business. Does anyone have a good solution??
Like everyone has already said I imagine that really small e-readers end up competing against smartphones, and that it just doesn’t make economic sense for companies to sell really small e-readers.
For a while I played with the idea of getting a Kobo Mini — and then just decided my 6″ Sony PRS-T1 e-reader was small enough.
I think big e-readers are a much better business idea, and I think the only thing that really needs to be solved — is that they need to work on cost reduction.
I never got rid of my Nook Glowlight (I have 2 actually, one with the light the other no light.) I like that I can just carry it anywhere in my bag unlike my Onyx Boox N96ML which I still love of course despite its deficiencies.
Ben Longman says
My Dream eReader is a 4.5 – 5.0 inch display with a relatively small bezel and page turn buttons.
It’s backed by Amazon or Google, and supports library sync with Amazon, Google play, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, and iBook.
Default store goes to whoever backs the device, but should be something that’s controllable by the user.
Although it’s not e-ink, I have a ZTE Zinger phone which is an older Android device that runs the Kindle app just fine. It has a 3.5 inch screen but is perfectly usable, thank you, and you you can’t beat it for portability.
Ben Longman says
I have nothing against small devices. In fact, I’d love to be able to get a 4.5 inch or smaller phone that I find acceptable, but I don’t think that there’s a Pixel on the horizon that fits the bill. I briefly had a 3.5 inch e-ink device, but it was too fragile for me, and also required tethering to a phone.
It seems like I should probably add books-a-million to my list of ebook retailers.
I do some reading on my phone but mostly on my Kindle Voyage. I very much prefer the phone but I can’t read for lengthy periods on it so most of my reading has to be on my Kindle with it’s e-ink screen.
For me the ideal thing would be an e-ink reader the size of a phone. Not a phone but a very simple e-ink ereader, preferably with a Kindle interface and features. I’d buy this in a minute and give up my Voyage.
The problem is that ereaders are a niche product and a small niche at that. The manufacturers are interested in selling books and the ereaders are a minor tool for book selling and not a product in their own right. So they don’t put much attention into competing against each other’s devices. They all make sure they’re good enough and that’s that.
On my phone I’m limited to about 30 minute sessions on my current AMOLED screen. My previous phone was LCD which limited me to about 20 minutes. So I read a little here and there on my phone and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. I doubt we’ll ever get the variety of e-ink readers we want.
I agree with you, but you could have at least acknowledged the Kindle Oasis. Yes, it does have a six-inch screen, so it isn’t small by your definition, but it is smaller and lighter than most other options.
It’s ridiculously overpriced, but I wanted a small eReader so much that I finally just caved and bought one, and I like it.
I love my Pyrus Mini! If the screen is rotated, it has the same width as a 6 inch Kindle screen on portrait mode.
It’s also so very light and easy to hold up at eye-level. Plus the battery life is, as with most e-ink devices, glorious.
You’ve got my vote for more cheap, no fuss e-ink readers
That’s the one I miss the most. The software was really basic but the small form factor was great for portability. One with a touchscreen could be even smaller. I wish there was a 4.3″ model still available.
Both for small and big einks, I miss most the connectivity to serve as a secondary screen to any device, mobile phone or computer. No special drivers, I don’t want any extra apps to install, just plain old wire via (micro)USB or (micro)HDMI (or perhaps Bluetooth, if possible) and let the main device take care of the rest. Should be simple in principle, but nobody seems to be doing it.
Since AMOLED screens now come in transparent versions, you might see a layered screen, with the epaper used for power saving, reading, and lock screens. Meanwhile the AMOLED is used for video and games, and at least for now stuff that requires color.
Kind of a stacked yota (imo a good concept marred by corporate problems and subpar design). Multiple devices are a pain to lug around and keep charged. They don’t interoperate. It’s easier to just put up with your phone.