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Readers can test e-readers at British Library

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Over the next three months readers at the British Library can try out three e-book readers from Sony and iRex Technologies.

The British Library's e-reader exhibit should give visitors the chance to familiarise themselves with the devices and explore the possible recreational and research benefits of e-books.

Traditionally, e-readers have struggled to compete with the traditional book due to issues with low battery life and the use of harsh back-lit screens. Now though, with e-ink technology, e-reading devices can better satisfy reader expectations and deliver a variety of additional functions such as the ability to vary font size, access WiFi and make annotations.

Devices on display include the Sony Reader, the iRex DR1000 and the iLiad. These e-readers have been pre-loaded with material currently available on the market. However, in the future, the British Library hopes to exploit e-reader technology to facilitate access to its own digital collections, allowing readers to explore rare and often out of print items such as the 80,000 editions of 19th Century English literature recently digitised in partnership with Microsoft.