OK, a flimsy excuse to get an iPad. While I love my Kindle, I can see adding an iPad would be serious overlap - especially for book reading. But with Google getting into the e-book biz, the assumptions are being realigned.
Google eBookstore addresses a complaint many have lodged against Amazon's Kindle: The books bought for it can only be read using Kindle software. This would be a major problem if there weren't Kindle apps for iOS and Droid devices, as well as for Windows and Mac computers; I don't own a Kindle, but I own several Kindle e-books and read them on my iPhone and iPad. What I can't do with my Kindle books is read them on a friend's iPad during a visit, or on a shared work computer if I want, say, to point out an interesting passage to a colleague. Google's e-books will be accessible via a user's Google account from any device that runs a Web browser (that includes tablet computers and smart phones), as well as via apps designed to run on various mobile platforms. I can also read my Google e-books on a Nook or Sony Reader, should I ever decide to buy one, something I can't do with Kindle titles. But remember: You also can't use your Kindle to read any e-books you buy from Google.I tell ya - for gadgeteers, life just keeps getting better.
So let's review: Google eBooks is a big improvement on the Kindle (still the most popular dedicated e-reader device) if you anticipate wanting to switch from one dedicated e-reader device to another, but if you're switching to an iPad, then it's a wash. On the other hand, if you're a student at the library one afternoon without your Kindle or iPad and you want to be able to access a Kindle book you bought for a class, you're out of luck. (If that last example strikes you as an exotic scenario, bear in mind that while Kindles are the most popular dedicated e-reader devices, the majority of people who read e-books still read them on a laptop or desktop computer, and many of these readers are students.) Your Google e-books, however, can be read on the library's computer using a Web browser. But hold on a minute! -- Amazon just announced that it will be introducing its own Web-browser-based Kindle reader in a month or so.
In other words, figuring out which e-book system will best meet your needs is really, really confusing. [More]
(Even better, we told our kids not to get us Christmas presents when we couldn't come up with any suggestions for them. So I'll just sniff sadly and say, "Since I didn't get any presents, I bought one for myself...")
Update: Or should I wait until April?