New e-reader that adjusts to light just one way the world of e-books is evolving

Barnes and Noble has debuted its latest version of the Nook, and while it certainly is a bright spot in the world of e-readers, it isn't the only thing changing for e-books.

With the popularity of e-books rising dramatically in recent years, both publishers and e-reader manufacturers are looking for ways to improve the e-reading experience. Take a look at this new Nook, which has a glowing backlit screen:

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It's a good thing that e-reader companies are striving to innovate, however, because they're gaining some major competition from tablets. A quick look at the sales numbers from the last few months speaks volumes about the growing gap between tablets and e-readers. Amazon reports that it had a very good December, selling over four million Kindle e-readers that month, a TechCrunch article says. However tablet sales continue to surge forward at an exponential pace; in just the first three days of the new iPad's release, Apple reports that it sold three million units, and over 15 million units at the end of 2011.

Publishers are seeing the shift in the market from e-reader to tablet, too. The Samsung Galaxy Note is proving to be well-suited to e-reading, and the new iPad was designed to deliver a crisper, overall better text-reading experience. Tablet makers are out to prove that the e-reading experience can be just as good — if not better — on a tablet as it is on a dedicated e-reader. And publishers are learning how to cater to that shift.

A recent Wired article highlights how publishers aren't interested in providing just a traditional book experience anymore. Some publishers are taking advantage of all the things that tablet technology offers by integrating apps and social media into e-books.

Major book publisher Penguin has said that it plans to release this year 50 enhanced e-books, which will tell stories using immersive tools like audio clips, videos and photo albums to boost the story experience, the Wall Street Journal reports. Author Amanda Havard created a company with her father to release her book along with an app, Wired explains, which includes audio files the characters are listening to in the story. It also includes virtual maps of where the characters are and links to the characters' Twitter accounts, which are mostly run by Havard.

Enhanced or not, the popularity of e-reading remains on the rise. According to a report released last week by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 21 per cent of adults in the U.S. reported having read an e-book in the project's February 2012 survey, up from 17 per cent this past December. That's quite a few bookworms moving into the 21st century.