Though the new e-reader from Barnes & Noble generated considerable excitement this week, a more transformative innovation is just around the corner, nookone that could land dedicated e-book devices in the technological scrapheap along with eight-track tapes and rotary phones. That innovation is Apple's tablet computer, rumored to be in the works for years, with an anticipated release date in 2010.

Before you splurge on a shiny new Kindle or Nook, you might want to spend a few minutes reading Daniel Lyons' recent column in Newsweek, "The Hype Is Right: Apple's Tablet Will Reinvent Computing," for an informative peek at what the future might hold. According to Lyons (and many others), the new tablet computer will become our morning newspaper, our TV and our book, all rolled into one portable and attractive package. This will not only affect how we read but what we read, Lyons says:

Look at how people have turned their creativity loose on the iPhone. In just 16 months, thousands of developers have created 85,000 applications for that device. The same will happen with tablets. These powerful devices with constant Internet access will enable us (and force us) to rethink media. What is a newspaper? What is a book? What is a movie?

After seeing how the iPhone has affected my own habits, I think Lyons is onto something important here. Readers, authors—and publishers—who are still trying to figure out how to cope with the e-book revolution apparently have even more profound changes in store.

How about you: have you purchased a Kindle or Nook? Will you consider doing so? Or will you wait for the next big thing?

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