At Book Expo, Romantic Feelings About e-Readers

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Bibliophiles attending North America’s largest trade fair for the publishing industry at the Javits Center this week were abuzz about the unveiling of the latest e-readers.

At the Book Expo, Donna Hayes, CEO of Harlequin Books, said her readers have taken to devices like Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

"They read a lot, they buy a lot and they really don't want to have wait to get that next book," said Hayes, who publishes romance novels with titles like "Her Desert Prince" and "High Stakes Seduction."

The company said it sells four books every second worldwide. Twelve percent of readers now get their shivers and thrills on tablet devices, and the number is growing quickly.

This week, Barnes & Noble, which makes the Nook, and Toronto-based Kobo introduced touchscreen devices, which they say makes it even easier to download and read books. Meanwhile, prices are sinking.

But the competition isn't just in e-readers, it's in e-bookstores. Google launched one last December, and had rented a space to show Expo guests how it works.

Another company with an e-bookstore, Apple, was at the Expo this for the first time ever this year, though they didn't exhibit and instead preferred to hold business meetings in a private room.

With so much happening so fast, publishers are trying hard to anticipate trends, but at least one person who is paid to advise them said it's too soon to abandon print.

"Print books are always gonna be reliable, they're always gonna be available and you can throw them across the room if you don't like the ending,” said Michael Norris of Simba Information.