The Future of the Book

Sony Reader on its Way

By posted at 4:34 am on October 6, 2006 2

The launch of the Sony Reader is drawing nearer, and it has garnered another mostly positive review, this time from the Washington Post. The Reader gets high marks for its look and feel, as well as its ability to increase the font size for readers with vision trouble. With “twice the pixel density of most conventional LCDs, and on a par with the resolution of newsprint,” eye strain isn’t a problem

The device’s battery lasts for “7500 page turns,” and its memory can store 80 average length books. Sony has set up a store similar to Apple’s iTunes where readers can buy the books, and 10,000 titles are expected to be available at launch. Judging by the titles available for sale, the ebooks appear to fetch the same price as their paper counterparts. The device generally gets high marks, but not enough to make it worth the price tag for everyone, according to the reviewer: “Is the Reader worth $350? Only if you want to trim your luggage, stop collecting dead trees, or use the large-font feature for easier reading.”

Given how impressed many have been with the technology, I suspect those reasons will be enough to make the Sony Reader reasonable successful, especially if it can keep expanding its library of titles. More broadly speaking, books – the old-fashioned paper kind – are far from an endangered species, but the Reader may appeal to people for whom lugging around a bunch of books has gotten to be a pain. Were Sony to add the ability to download newspaper and magazine articles (perhaps this is in the works, I don’t know), it would up the usefulness of this device considerably.

According to the Web site, it looks like the Reader has begun shipping already, and is proving popular: “Due to overwhelming demand, new Sony Portable Reader orders may ship as late as mid-November,” reads a notice on the site.

Bonus Links: I’ve written about the Sony Reader and ebooks a couple of times before: The digital future of the book and The Possibility of an eBook Summer.





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2 Responses to “Sony Reader on its Way”

  1. booklover414
    at 1:37 pm on October 12, 2006

    I found this article very thought provoking. It seems just about everything else can get zapped into a handheld device, like an ipod, so why not books? However, I recently fell in love with audiobooks. The thought of picking one up had never even crossed my mind, but my boyfriend got bought me one as a present since I have a rather long commute to work that involves subway transfers (walking along the subway platform with your face buried in a book is not always the best idea!). I downloaded it to my ipod and I absolutely LOVED the experience. And I found out that you can download audiobooks right to your ipod without ever having to buy the physical CDs. So now I can't help but wonder if maybe audiobooks, and not ebooks are the way of the future. Thoughts?

    I actually like Penguin audiobooks a lot because they have clips available on their website that you can listen to before you go ahead buy something. (if I'm going to spend several hours listening to a book I want to at least know that I like the reader's voice!)

    And they have a podcast you can subscribe to also. The quality's not the best but it's actually turned me onto a couple books…

    Here's the link if anyone's interested:
    http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/podcast/archive.html

  2. readhead
    at 2:04 pm on October 12, 2006

    This article really made me think. When I was growing up in the 40's the thought of books on tape or 'podcasts' was about as realistic as social equality. My husband was illiterate so he would make me read books to him for about 8 hours a day. He was quite fond of the Nancy Drew mysteries – Delightful! Once he lost his vision, I took an old phonograph and rigged it as sort of a make-shift recording device. I had begun having an affair with his sister, you see, and before I would sneak out, I would record my voice on the record. This worked like a charm and in many ways was the dawn of the audio book. I almost felt bad when I came home one day and found him dying in his rocker. I always wonder to myself if I hadn't been so enthralled in my own voice on the recording and listened to the end of the novel, would Morty still roam the Earth? Hm, you tell me…thoughts?

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