This year will see a tidal wave of e-readers arrive, and as soon as they arrive they’ll be instantly commodified. Here’s a look at how the battle lines are now shaping up in the display and hardware corners of the e-book market.

The emerging e-book market is in a full-blown melee—a free-for-all where everyone along the chain from content producer to reader is trying to be the first to figure it all out. Over the next few days, we’ll talk about how the battle lines are shaping up in the following areas: displays, chips, storefronts, and publishers. Many of the combatants are involved in more than one of these areas—Qualcomm is in displays and chips; newcomer Copia is pushing hardware and a storefront; Sprint, Hearst, Skiff, and LG are all allied across displays, storefronts, and publishers under the Skiff banner; and so on.

the Skiff vs. the QUE

Most of the e-readers coming out in the next few months are based on E-Ink, but that doesn’t mean that the displays will be identical. Reading devices will compete with each other on size, thickness, resolution, contrast, and price. The screens will also compete to offer color as quickly as possible.

The Skiff has the edge on size so far with an 11.5″ diagonal screen. Plastic Logic comes in a close second. Both are easily large enough to view a full A4 page without doing any scaling, and both have solid industrial design.

Both the Skiff and the Plastic Logic QUE are incredibly thin. This thinness is made possible in part by the fact that both have flexible display substrates—Skiff’s uses a foil substrate developed by LG, while Plastic Logic’s uses a plastic substrate developed in-house. Both of these make for flexible displays, but of the two only the Skiff itself is physically flexible.

On the resolution front, the Skiff wins at 174dpi to Plastic Logic’s slightly lower 150dpi.