Jeffrey P. Bezos

Near the end of a recent flight to Los Angeles, the flight attendant’s voice on the plane’s intercom asked passengers to "power down your books” for landing. Just a couple of years ago those words would have elicited curious laughs. Yet on this flight there wasn’t even a murmur; just the smooth clicks and swipes of power buttons on Kindles and iPads. As I wrote in a post last week about the rise of mobile devices, the e-reader market has skyrocketed over the past few years, with analysts estimating that consumers will buy 19.5 million of them in 2010.

Whoever said technology was dehumanizing was wrong. On screens everywhere cellphones, e-readers, A.T.M.s as Diana Ross sang, we just want to reach out and touch. The Sony Reader Touch Edition, to be introduced Wednesday. Researchers say people take naturally to touch screens. Scientists and academics who study how we interact with technology say people often try to import those behaviors into their lives, as anyone who has ever wished they could lower the volume on a loud conversation or Google their brain for an answer knows well. But they say touching screens has seeped into peoples day-to-day existence more

Amazon is hoping to convince even casual readers that they need a digital reading device. By firing another shot in an e-reader price war leading up to the year-end holiday shopping season, the e-commerce giant turned consumer electronics manufacturer is also signaling it intends to do battle with Apple and its iPad as well as the other makers of e-readers like Sony and Barnes & Noble.

1 1 Dell 37.43 B 36.28 B 3.17 37.43 B 36.28 B 1 N/A 1 Dell Way Round Rock, TX 78682 512-338-4400 Michael Dell Public, EO (MO/Web) 2 2 Best Buy 22.48 B 19.45 B 15.58 29.97 B 26.65 B 858 742 7601 Penn Ave. South Richfield, MN 55423 612-291-1000 Bradbury H. Anderson Public, ATVM (+Web) 3 3 Wal-Mart 23.49 B 21.68 B 1.81 234.87 B 216.77 B 3,689 3,461 702 SW Eighth St. Bentonville, AR 72716 479-273-4000 H. Lee Scott Jr. Public, MM (+Web) 4 4 Circuit City 11.93 B 10.79 B 10.56 11.93 B 10.79 B 653 631 9950 Maryland Dr. Richmond, VA 23233 804-527-4000 Philip J. Schoonover Public, EO (+Web) 5 5 Staples 8.1 B 7.23 B 12.03 15.41 B 13.85 B 1,576 1,491 500 Staples

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