Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Sony Reader will change everything -- maybe

Journalists -- and, yes, bloggers too -- tend to live by recycling and re-hashing stuff. And you can only read so much about digital books and ebook reading devices without a sense of deja vu developing and your eyes glazing over. However, if you want to read a reasonably well reseached and thoughtful piece about the 'coming revolution', you can find one on BusinessWeek Online, linked from booktrade.info.

My own view is that the problem of making a nice, cheap, and wholly successful ebook reader, about the size of a trade paperback, has nowhere near been cracked yet. The new Sony Reader, to be launched this spring, will cost $400 for a start, which is about $360 more than a tempting price.

More to the point, perhaps, Michael Cader, of Publishers Lunch is also doubtful. In a recent newsletter Michael said that 'clearly the press loves writing about this device [the Sony Reader] almost as much as they enjoyed lavishing ink on the first round of e-reader devices and players. But I've yet to find anyone in the publishing business who thinks this is going anywhere.'

4 comments:

jaspermilvain said...

The last question on the BusinessWeek comments (as of 10.40) seems the relevant one: Why does anyone think e-books will be a separate device? When there's a popular digital music player or mobile phone that makes them genuinely readable, I can see them starting to take off; on their own, it's a tougher sell.

For a start, they lack one of the great conveniences of digital music -- the ability to compact and carry around your existing collection, without paying hundreds of pounds extra for the privilege. That's what sold me an iPod. Given that music companies hate the idea, it seems unlikely that publishers will want to reproduce it. (Link courtesy of Chris Lightfoot.)

John Barlow said...

I disagree, Chris. I spend hours and hours reading e-texts off a screen, and would love an eReader. As for music companies hating iPod, yes they did; look how they've elbowed their way into the picture now, though. Ditto music artists themselves.

Paul Perry said...

Any new gadget like this - even one that I think is sure to fail - can provide an opportunity for a writer to get 'published'. Even if only a few thousand are sold, if there is a shortage of material for it, any book published in the required form has an inside edge. And I think jaspermilvain is right... you want to take the 'library' with you!

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