Wireless reader with seven-inch screen: A TeleRead report from Sony’s news conference in New York

Also see Sony announces $399 wireless reader, Sony’s wireless ‘Reader Daily Edition’ and Sony inks content pacts with e-book stores—and indie brick-and-mortar stores: Libraries mentioned, too. Below images of the unit—with a seven-inch, 16-grayscale screen with dual-page capability—are from gdgt.com. Sony originated the reader photos, apparently. – D.R.

image 9:55 am: I’m sitting outside the door of the Trustees Conference Room at the New York Public Library waiting for them to open the doors. Nobody knows what will be announced.

10:05 am: Let us into the room. No chairs so we are all standing or sitting on the floor. Met Steve Haber of Sony and he said hello, but wouldn’t comment on a wireless reader. As expected! However, Steve was carrying something in a blue plush bag and wouldn’t tell me what it was.

10:20 am: Everybody jockeying for position as there are only a few tables where you can put a computer. Pencil and paper are best for this conference, but I was lucky to get a table space. I always bring my Moleskine, but it’s sort of funny to see some of the laptop people who have nothing to write with.

10:30 am: Getting started. Dr. Paul Eclair, President of NYPL. They are announcing a partnership with Sony. Free content from the library will be available on Sony readers. NYPL. org is the most used of any cultural site in New York. Second most heavily used library website in the world. 40.000 titles available through Overdrive, 250,000 ebooks downloaded last year.

image Steve Haber (photo), President, Sony Digital Business Reader Division. Talks generally about why ebooks and why digital reading. To make ereading happen it is all about access content, experience, and affordability. Over 8,500 retail outlets in the US carrying the reader this holiday season. Talks about the two Sony readers that have already been announced. Nothing new. Launching 3.0 library software today, including a Mac edition. Ebook store will have a library finder which will locate a library near you that will make ebooks available on the Sony Reader. Powells Books, American Bookseller’s Association, Net Galley and Books on Board will open ebook stores.

haber.jpgNow comes the Daily Edition with 7″ display. That’s what was in the plush bag. 3G, touchscreen will be available in December for $399..

The Sony Daily Edition will have 3G access through AT&T and it will initially connect only with Sony’s ebook store. It will have magazines and newspapers as will as books and there will be no monthly fees or transaction charges. Steve would not discuss any of the content deals that Sony has made. The Reader will have a touch screen. In portrait mode it will have 30-35 lines of text and it has 16 levels of grayscale. It will hold up to 1,000 books and will have expansion slots(plural in the press release) for memory cards. Steve specifically said that Sony is not making any European announcement at this time.

Now he announces “Words Move Me” a new site where one can post favorite passages from books and share feelings about them. Will be a penel discussion about it with Ella Morton of Rocketboom, Trip Adler founder of Scribd, Mesilssa Chapman, Blogger of NYC Mom’s Blog. This will happen at noon.

Analysis: it is good to finally see the wireless reader, however we have almost no information about it. Clearly Sony has a number of deals yet to make because at it’s initial launch it will only connect to the Sony store. This leave the Kindle in the pole position, as the Kindle has its own browser and can connect to a number of free ebook sites. We’ll just have to wait and see. What is clear, however, is that Sony is maintaining its commitment to the ebook market. Not only with new devices, but with its connection to libraries. This is an area where they are far ahead of the Kindle and the connection with the New York Public Library certainly gives them credibility.

10 Comments on Wireless reader with seven-inch screen: A TeleRead report from Sony’s news conference in New York

  1. Will it be available in Canada at the same time as the US?

  2. Steve Haber specifically limited the announcement to the US so we don’t know. He refused to answer any questions about anything outside of the US.

  3. Kindle isn’t “in the pole position.” Those free book sites are for public domain/copyright-free books, which a wireless Reader will have similar access to. But the simple access interface for e-library borrowing is huge for Sony. What would you rather have: free OTA book previews on your Kindle, where you then have to pay for each book, or wireless access to free borrowed e-books from your local library? (Note that Sony Readers can already borrow e-books, but you have to access libraries thru a pc web browser, and load books using Adobe Digital Editions. It sounds like the new Sony pc software will allow direct access to e-libraries along with Sony’s online store.)

  4. As mentioned above NYPL offers about 12000 pdf ebooks and 467 epub’s (as of yesterday though it seems all the new additions are epubs since no new pdf’s or prc’s have been added for a while, while epubs are added all the time) and they are already readable on my PRS 700 with transfer from ADE on your PC, though I agree that wireless is very useful as my iTouch reading shows…

    I paid 399$ for my 700 for its touch and sidelights and I definitely would love to stick with Sony when the 700 dies, but I really need internal light – that and touch are my first two priorities with wireless a distant third…

  5. borax99 (AlainC.) // August 25, 2009 at 12:50 pm //

    Personal experience – the only ebook software that blows worse than Sony’s own is Adobe Digital Editions. Mostly I go for ereader-formatted ebooks on tablets.

  6. So for $199 I can have a reader that will work in every country, but for $399 I can have a taller one that will only work in the US, but it means I don’t have to plug a cord into make it work? Is $200 really something people will pony up to go wireless?

  7. Alan Wallcraft // August 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm //

    Sony only has an ebook store in the US/Canada. So it makes sense that a device with “free” 3G will be tied to that store.

    The Daily Edition could presumably be sold by a Sony partner in other markets with the right infrastructure in place. Or a similar version could be sold without 3G, since the 7″ screen does add value over the 6″ after all.

  8. Kindle Rules? With no backlight and which requires an external reading light? Nah. I’ll stick with my iPod Touch until the perfect reader (for access, cross platform, downloadability, ease of reading, etc.) comes out.

  9. The daily edition reader seems interesting enough (pricing issues aside) but since it won’t ship until december in the US (and who knows when elsewhere) I’d be a tad restrained in my expectations. It is, in effect a pre-announcement of a 2010 reader. There is no telling what the market will look like by late fall/early 2010. (Kindle DX at $399? iRex wireless 8″? Hanlin 10″? BeBook 2? Apple?)
    If the Daily Edition were available for purchase today it might make a significant dent in the market. Three months away? Next spring?
    I don’t know.
    I don’t think Sony has the power to freeze the market with a press release, just yet.
    In other words, there’s a bit *less* here than meets the eye…

  10. I *am* however, very interested in the screen they’re using (source, resolution, actual aspect ratio) and who else might have access to it.
    Competition is good and a new form factor is, at a minimum, intriguing…

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