E-Readers’ Color Challenge

The electronic-book readers from Barnes & Noble Inc. and Kobo Inc. that launched in May share something in common with the first digital-reading devices that came out four years ago: Their displays remain black and white.

It’s the latest evidence of one of the peculiarities of the e-reader business. Even as many other mobile devices—from tablet computers to smartphones—now sport color screens, electronic readers remain largely stuck in the past with black-and-white screens.

E-reader makers say they would like to have color screens to display images from books, magazines and newspapers. The problem is that color e-reader screens are “still not ready for prime-time production,” said Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos at a shareholders’ meeting in May. Amazon makes the Kindle e-reader.

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