Thursday, September 2, 2010

A note to Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times re SONY E-reader


It's not a book, it's not a book, it's not a book. And it's not reading. What people do when they take in text from a screen is called, for lack of a better word, screening. It aint reading. Future MRI and PET scan tests will prove this.

re: Claire writes:

On Wednesday Sony introduced a new line of e-screeners and applications for iPhones and Android phones.

The Sony Reader TouchSony has updated each of its three e-screeners. The Reader Pocket Edition, with its 5-inch screen, weighs less than many of its competitors. The Reader Touch Edition has a 6-inch screen and the Reader Daily Edition is the biggest of the bunch at 7 inches.

“Consistently the No. 1 thing we heard was it needs to feel like a book, so you just forget that you have a device in your hand,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.

To try to achieve the book feel, Sony made the e-screeners smaller and lighter than before. Most noticeably, all three e-screeners have touch-screens for the first time, something that consumers expect in gadgets these days.

Sony previously offered touch on the two bigger readers and updated the screens by removing the top layer of glass so there is less glare and to make them more responsive. While the older versions required forceful touching, the pages of the new e-screeners respond even to a hovering finger. Sony also used an improved E Ink Pearl display so text is now visible in direct sunlight, the company says.

The new devices arrive as the market is getting ever more competitive. On Tuesday, said that Staples would start selling the Kindle, and Borders lowered the prices of two e-readers it sells, the Kobo and Libre.

Sony’s new Readers range from $179 to $299, significantly more expensive than some of the others available, like the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi and the $100 Libre.

Despite the raging e-reader price wars that are expected to heat up as the holidays approach, Mr. Haber said that “we found in this space that people step up and buy features they want and price is less significant.”

Sony has struggled to capture the same brand recognition as other e-readers. Amazon, as one of the world’s largest bookstores, started out with a big advantage, Mr. Haber said.

“You think of books in the past and you don’t think of Sony,” he said. “It takes time to build a brand in books.”

Sony’s bookstore offers a few unique things, like borrowing books from public libraries and an upcoming partnership with Goodreads that will add reviews.

While Kindle users can download books anywhere, using either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, readers of the Sony Pocket and Touch Editions still have to plug their e-readers into a computer. Readers of the Daily Edition can now download books using 3G or Wi-Fi. Sony added Wi-Fi because, contrary to its expectations, the majority of people use their Readers at home, Mr. Haber said.

The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available Wednesday and the Daily Edition by the end of the year.

The new phone apps will be available later this year and, like the Kindle app, will allow people to pick up where they left off in a book when they switch devices.

Sony is also expanding availability internationally — including to Italy, Spain, Australia, China and Japan — and the new readers include 10 translation dictionaries in addition to two English ones.


Anonymous said...

As per usual, this comment above was censored and deleted by the NYTimes web police, for reasons unknown. Try again.

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