The general consensus among observers is that they haven't caught up to the dedicated e-readers in text quality quite yet, but give them time.
"If you love reading and are looking to invest a chunk of money into a device as a dedicated e-reader, then the iPad is not your best bet," Cesar Torres, of CNN content partner ArsTechnica, wrote last year in a review comparing the third-generation iPad to e-readers such as the third-generation Kindle. (That iPad has the same screen as the most recent one).
"The value you can get from devices like the Kindle (or several other competitors like the Sony Reader or Kobo), will allow you to save money to spend on what is presumably your main passion: books."
But for folks wanting a more complete computing experience, he wrote, the difference was already negligible.
"The trouble comes when you start to think of your e-reader as more than an e-reader," he wrote. "E-ink Kindles are abysmal at Web browsing, for example, and they don't run popular apps and games like the iPad and other tablets on the market today.
"There are other types of reading, like webpages and magazines, that matter just as much as books to many readers, too. For those needs, an iPad's retina display will display images and text like a champ."
So, is there any future for dedicated e-readers?
McQuivey says that as Amazon continues to establish itself as an Internet clearinghouse for all sorts of goods (both physical and digital), the Nook, which got a $300 million infusion from Microsoft last year, could look to selling textbooks and other educational tools.
A rumored plan to split the e-book division off from Barnes & Noble's brick-and-mortar stores could come as early as Thursday and would be a perfect jumping-off point, he said.
"All the more reason for Nook to separate from Barnes & Noble, turning to its investment partners like Microsoft and Pearson and saying, 'Let's see how far we can take this platform into productivity and education,' " he said.
"Of course there's risk there, but there was risk in getting into the tablet business."