Shot Across The Bow

August 26, 2009

new_reader_open_angle_f_610x568We knew it was in the works, and now Sony has unveiled it.  The third e-Reader in their hardware line, the Reader Daily Edition.  Sony announced the new device on Tuesday at a press conference.  The Daily Edition is different from it’s older brothers in 2 important ways.  One, it has a larger touch screen, coming in at 7 in.  And two, it has built-in wireless capabilities, provided by AT&T.  Finally, Sony has a device that can truly compete with the Kindle!  ….Maybe.

The Daily Edition will be available in December, just in time for Christmas, but is coming at $399, $100 more expensive than the Kindle 2, but $89 cheaper than the Kindle DX.  It’s screen is 2 in smaller than the DX, but it’s a touch screen.  Both devices have their pros and cons, but what’s really going to make a difference in this growing hardware war?  Content.

Right now, the Kindle boasts more than 300,000 books, but all of those books are in Amazon’s proprietary format, making the Kindle a closed system.  The Sony Reader line however, has adopted the ePub open format.  So as well as being able to read docs and pdfs, Reader users will have access to all the e-Book sites that have sprung up around the net, and with the Daily Edition, they can do it wirelessly.  This puts the Sony Reader ahead of the Kindle by a long shot!  Closed systems lead to dictatorships where the hardware provided tells you what you can and can’t put on your device.  Apple is a perfect example of that.  Amazon seems to want to go the same way.  Sony is going for the open format that will most likely outlast any proprietary systems in the long run.

There are a few other things that makes the Reader Daily Edition more attractive.  First, the new eBook Library software that will be coming out will now offer support for the Mac.  Mac users won’t be left out of this anymore or have to rely on their tiny iphone/itouch screens.  Second, Sony is expanding their support of library loans on all their Readers.  Now, if your library supports electronic loans, the Sony Reader line, in partnership with Overdrive.com, can search and download these books, with a 21 day borrowing period, after which the books will expire.  So, no more late fees!

While we’ve been seeing some manga publishers giving their support to the iphone and Kindle (DMP, Yen Press), Sony’s announcement of the Daily Edition should make them take a good long look at the Reader.  It has the greatest potential for growth, and it’s support of the open ePub format means that readers and publishers don’t have to live with the sudden whims of the closed system hardware providers.

This is a shot across Amazon’s bow.  Finally they have competition in the wireless book market, and here’s hoping there’s many more to come.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Jules says:

    Even though Sony’s Reader has superior features, it’s still $400. I’ll just wait until they start selling digital manga and comics on the PSP. Need to save some money.

    • I totally agree about the price, but we are still in e-Book readers infancy. In a couple of years they’ll be cheaper than a PSP. Though I won’t put my hopes on a Sony product. They aways let you down in the end. I’m watching NDS/NDSi They’ve got the staying power, and they’re getting closer to getting online. If only it wasn’t just the Japanese that got the cool manga hardware/software for it!

      Nice site, btw. :)

  • Jules says:

    Thanks for the compliment.

    I know what you mean. My PSP screen broke “mysteriously” and I had to replace the screen. But as long as there are different ways to get manga and comics legally, whether Kindle or Reader, I’m fine. Though they’ll have to wait awhile for me to become a customer.

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