Sony certainly wants us to. This week, the Japanese electronics giant announced an exclusive deal with high-street bookseller Borders to promote the new Sony Reader, its pint-sized attempt to finally break open the e-book market.
The Reader, which made its full debut at the CES show in Las Vegas earlier this year, is an impressive little gadget. Around the size of a thin paperback book, it mimics the printed page using electronic ink and has a crisp display that puts no extra strain on the eyes. With the capacity to hold hundreds of titles simultaneously
— as well as being able to download new titles from the Internet — some are saying it might do for publishing what the iPod has done for music.
Borders will promote the Reader in 200 of its American stores, and it looks likely that its 36 British outlets could follow suit when the gadget goes on sale here later this year (with an expected price tag of around £200). It will mark the first time that an e-book reader will have the backing of such a big book retailer.
Evangelists include The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, who believes it will help more people to read.
‘It is not about replacing books,’ he said earlier this year. ‘E-books offer features that traditional books cannot... if I want a new book, I can download it instantly online, even if it is two in the morning.’
They promise particular dividends in academic environments, as the ability to reduce a pile of expensive textbooks and carry one device is attractive for schools and universities. But although we shouldn’t expect to see e-books replace dead tree material, experts say that publishers have been waiting for this technology
for some time. ‘They see it as less of a threat and more of an opportunity,’ says Philip Jones, web editor of the bookseller. ‘Many publishers are already digitising their backlists — they’re not technology providers or creators, so they are waiting for the iPod of the book world.’
by Bobbie Johnson, in The Guardian, Thursday April 6, 2006 (abridged)