Reading for pleasure among today's youngsters simply cannot compete with the temptations of readily available immersive gaming, online networking and HD movie entertainment. According to a report by the Every Child a Chance Trust, shortcomings in child literacy are said to cost the taxpayer an estimated £2.5 billion (nearly US$4 billion) per year in England alone. Yet a recent study in the U.S. undertaken by children's book publisher Scholastic has revealed that a significant proportion of surveyed kids between ages 9 and 17 said that they would read more if they owned an e-Reader. Another has shown that youngsters prefer to read eBooks over their printed equivalents. Ergo Electronics has responded to the electronic reading needs of children by launching two new color e-Reader solutions, an Android reading app and a parent/child reading campaign at the London Book Fair, which runs from April 16 to 18 at the capital's Earls Court.

The first of the two GoBook e-Readers has been appropriately named Imagine, and is described as a grown-up gadget for young readers. It features an LED-backlit 8-inch touchscreen display at 800 x 600 pixel resolution flanked by physical page turn, zoom, volume and power buttons. Touchscreen page flip technology is also included for those who feel the need to swipe.

The 8.3 x 6.5 x 0.5-inch (213 x 166 x 13mm) e-Reader is powered by an ARM Boxchip E200 Micro-processor and comes with 4GB of onboard solid state memory, with a MicroSD card slot for expansion. It supports ePub, PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, FB2 eBook formats, has a built-in microphone for recording memos, with audio delivered via an included speaker or 3.5mm headphone jack. The Imagine can handle MP3 playback up to 320 kbps bit rate, offers a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a selection of eight different EQ settings. Users can also enjoy up to 30 frames per second 720p HD video playback in AVI file format and, of course, use the device to display JPG, BMP, PNG or GIF images.

A 2800mAh Lithium Polymer Battery provides the juice, which is said to be good for eight hours of reading between charges, but users will need to download eBooks to an internet-enabled computer and then transfer to the device via the mini-USB port.

The GoBook Imagine carries a suggested retail price of £74.99 (US$120, although the product is not currently available outside the UK).

Ergo Electronics also took the opportunity to show off a pre-production version of a tablet-like device named the GoBook Surf at the Book Fair. As the name suggests, the device has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi capabilities for wireless connectivity. It features a capacitive multitouch, 8-inch LED backlit screen, 1GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB of solid state storage and Micro SD card expansion, and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera.

Sam Goult from the company's Let's Get Reading arm told Gizmag that "the Reading experience will be powered by our new GoReader app which will be on the Play Store to download within the next week."

The GoReader bookshelf and reading app has been designed for use with Android phones, tablets or laptops.

The GoBook Surf will be released next month for a suggested retail price of £129 (US$205), a tad more expensive than B&N's Nook Color and Amazon's Kindle Fire – although, like the GoBook Imagine, this is currently a UK-only release.

Statistics show that the UK is ranked 47th for the number of children who read for pleasure, and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants parents to take time out to read with their kids at least once every day. UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb has echoed the PM's sentiments, saying that he is "passionate about wanting all children to develop a real love of books and of reading for pleasure – children should always have a book on the go."

Ergo Electronics will release 150 free, colorful and animated original eBook titles for all ages over the next 12 months to support the A Read A Day campaign, in the hope of encouraging youngsters to get involved, discuss books and improve their literacy.

Sources: Let's Get Reading, Every Child a Chance Trust (PDF), Scholastic, Digital Book World