Sony Electronic Book Reader


I am impressed by this gizmo. Sony have launched a new Electronic Book Reader. They bill themselves as trying to do for e-books what Apple has done for downloadable digital music. They claim it will make reading copy as easy as reading directly off the printed page.

The Reader is about the size of a paperback, is 14mm thick at its widest and weighs little more than 250g. The slim device is the size of a paperback book. It will go on sale in the spring and is expected to sell for between $300 and $400 in the US.

[img] [/img]

BBC Report



Hang on to your wallet before you buy. There are at least two more readers like this are due out in 2006: iRex Iliad (iRex is a spinoff of Philips) and if you check the link the specs are better than the Sony. The other is the Hanlin V2 out of China which runs on Linux OS. I suspect there are more devices in the pipeline from others but these are the two that have been announced.

The caution I have about the Sony device is what kind of DRM scheme will Sony tie you to? We all know Sony loves their DRM, so will an owner of the Sony device be locked into buying all their content from Sony or can they add their own? Which begs a lot of questions about formats etc.

Love the idea, though.

Love the idea, though.

>>Love the idea,

>>Love the idea, though.

Yeah me too. I already read ebooks on my PDA and a low res ebook reader from Both work well for fiction. But I would like something that would read uneccrypted PDF docs without having to reflow the text there are some ebooks that are only available in PDF format. Plus I can see where some electronic magazines my take advantage of I high res device like the Sony.

Sony is right in that the ebook buying/downloading/reading experience needs to be made easy and seamless like the ipod. (Although the eBookwise 1150 is pretty close to that.)

I am going to be interested to see if Sony supports the Mac and the prices they charge in their bookstore.

I can see that our time is

I can see that our time is coming. :)

I'm looking for confluence

I'm looking for confluence in gadgets and gizmos rather than one bulky gadget per task. I'm currently using my PDA for book reading, and will probably upgrade my PDA's as their screen resolutions get better. It's a safe guess that the PDA producers won't ignore this market and its requirements.

They claim it will make

They claim it will make reading copy as easy as reading directly off the printed page.p

So why not just read a printed page aka a book?

So why not just read a printed page aka a book?

I assume you still use carrier pigeons instead of the telephone.

I may not like the idea but that's because....

I'm a geek and have more gadgets and toys than is healthy for one adult. Many of those have purported to deliver great functionality including reading ebooks. In reality none of them do it that well.

Carrier Pigeon -v- Phone?
Not a fair comparison as the telephone added functionality over and above the pigeon. What does an electronic book reader add?

IMO it is nothing. It may offer the ability to store loads of books but you can only read one at a time. It adds weight, cost, relies on an unreliable power source, although is a handly size - dohh BOOK sized !

IMHO dedicated E Book readers are a waste of time money and resources. When it comes to reading stuff I'l stick to the thing they are trying to emulate

Kids, Backpacks and other things...

You people miss the obvious applications.

So why not just read a printed page aka a book?

School kids are killing themselves slugging big heavy backpacks around when they could carry just one of these little devices and have every book and any other material the teachers hands them secured in the reader.

For that matter, most kids have access to computers already so why the books aren't already available as eBooks at home vs dragging around heavy books is almost criminal but I digress.

Plus, why kill more trees for books when trees are best used for forests where the deer and bunnies sleep.

Sony claims the batteries are good for about 7,000 page turns, which is a lot more pages than I can read in a week.

However, the iLiad claims crappy battery usage, all the extra 'features' you all clamor for requires charging once a week after 3 hours daily reading. See, I don't get that as the display technology is supposed to require no power consumption once the page is displayed.

For my needs, and I've been waiting on one of these for a long time as the other little devices just don't cut it, the specs on the iLiad seems to fit my requirements better.

If these things caught on, in 10 years time all magazines and newspapers could be delivered this way.

Future Watch:

Just like the music industry is transitioning at this time from CDs to online downloads, so will the publishing industry, it's not a question of IF, it's a question of WHEN.

Hell, I can see the end of libraries as we know them just as the world is going completely wifi either via hotspots or wireless modems and anyone with these new devices, if wifi enabled, will have access to anything ever printed in the history of man at a click of a button.

No driving to the bookstore, no checking books out of stuffy old libraries, no waiting for the morning paper, no mailbox stuffed with magazines, no dusty bookcases sitting in the house using up wallspace better covered with a 60" HDTV, no paper recycling centers and no more wasting taxpayer money on big unused libraries.

Physical stores like Barnes and Noble, Borders, all history unless they convert to big wifi enabled internet cafes.

Like it or not, we're crossing a major chasm at this time and the paradigm shift is going to be staggering.


I read a lot online but there is a limit to what I can read. For axample PDF's are damn near impossible to read. In fact when things get past the 3 page limit I just print it out. I totally get the kids schoolbook thing but there's no way I could learn text book stuff on a computer screen (and my screen is considerably bigger than a book).

Another Thought

Yes, the functionality of PDF right now leaves something to be desired. And yes, they're not so easily readable (though I may be one of the few who would prefer to read on a screen than in a book).

But consider this: over at cre8asiteforums, Frank Elley mentioned Lynda Weinman on What's Next for Flash in 2006. (Lynda's the one with the online training library at Though the article contains her speculations as to "what's next" given the recent Adobe acquisition of Macromedia, the article is dense with information about what's possible now and in the future:

The next generation Flash Player 8.5, combined with ActionScript 3, has a brand new code execution engine that was completely rewritten and offers a huge speed boost over past versions of the player. This will be a welcome change for developers and should bring new converts to the format who have previously been dissatisfied with performance.


It is likely that Flash will be able to be integrated into PDF, which will give the PDF format a huge increase in functionality. Interactive PDFs are currently clunky and limited in features. PDF could become a Trojan horse to deliver Flash as a document exchange format, rather than a device delivery format. This could be a way to distribute desktop applications in a seamless and compelling manner. Recent announcements at conferences, on Macromedia blogs, and on Macromedia Labs describe a new product -- code-named Apollo -- which looks to be the basis for the next generation PDF/Flash product.

If the PDF format will be able to incorporate Flash, that means animation, sound, interactivity. That would take such an "ebook" beyond anything that paper could offer.

Although Adobe has been quite print-oriented (despite its Photoshop and imaging products), they've also been somewhat adamant about providing applications that could "repurpose" content so that it doesn't have to be rewritten. That has meant, among other things, XML. They may be more ahead of the game than we think.

Thinking out loud

There are things I know I can't do, for example I can program with any kind of music or TV on without a problem. However when I write/research articles I have to listen to music without people singing (classical or soundtracks).

There are other works I can never get through on screen(like searh patent applications) it just requires a different level of concentration. I also don't think I would enjoy reading Harry Potter on my laptop, PDA or other device even if it was smaller or lighter.

Of course could just be I'm getting old ...

Or could be

Could be that that's just your preference, right? Nothing wrong with that.

Can't read PDFs?

things get past the 3 page limit

I'm not a young guy (almost 50 boo hoo) but I now prefer eBooks over paper any day mainly because I don't need to mill around in a bookstore for hours looking for stuff. Quick online search, get other reader reviews, snippets, etc. and the next thing you know I'm swiping a credit card. The whole process of an eBook isn't just buying the book, it's a complete interactive experience like music download sites and quite addictive.

Every time I get an eBook I don't have to wait for delivery, instant gratification, people can't STEAL my paper at the door anymore (read that online too), it's the wave of the future. Hoever, you need a BIG monitor (19" min.) with a lotta pixels to really enjoy it IMO but totally worth it.

The only exception is it's hard to curl up in bed or the sofa with a laptop or a 19" monitor to read which is why these new readers really appeal to me.


I picked up Aaron's SEOBOOK for my wife this fall since she's now dabbling with her own sites and I got sick of being interrupted every 5 minutes with SEO questions. So I hit the net and snapped up a copy of Aaron's book and zipped thru the entire 250 pages on my notebook even (hate that screen) in an afternoon, flagged all the major items of interest for her to read and passed it along.


Not that I'm anti-book person by any stretch of the imagination as we had to thin the herd of my library this year and a bunch of books were hauled out.

The point is why haul them out and more importantly, why haul them in for that matter?

Had they been eBooks I'd still have them all on my file server but due to real world space restrictions they were donated to the local library instead.

The only reason I still deal with paperbacks is hauling a laptop sucks and the little LCD readers suck, the battery life on both options totally sucks but the new technology solves all that as its light, great battery life, as small as a book. It's everything I've been waiting for but I'm still holding my judgement until I have one in my hot little hands.

There will always be some esoteric types, some still clinging to vinyl records because of the "quality" over CDs, the same hold-outs now clinging to CDs over downloaded music, the same types clinging to film over digital imaging. They will all just have get over it when the cost of traditional printing and distribution make the ultimate decision for publishers as internet distribution is virtually free compared to any other medium.

Economics will ultimately be the final driving factor.

One form factor is not

One form factor is not better than the other and everybody should buy their preferred medium: pbook or ebook.

What I like about ebooks is the potential for freedom to eliminate the middle men. I'll use Aaron as an example: he published his ebook by himself and distributes it without a publisher. He didn't have to sell it to an American publisher and then wait for them to negotiate publishing rights in Canada, UK, AU, NZ, India and the rest of the world. He did not have to sign away the movie rights. Heh. He didn't have to give up book club rights. He didn't need a lawyer or an agent hovering at each elbow.

And if big publishers want to publish in ebook format that is fine too. It's a big tent and we all win with everybody inside it.

A good, cheap, portable, easy to use ebook reading device is needed before ebooks will become popular and even then it will take a generation. And let's not forget that a commercial version of that MIT laptop for school kids in the developing world is expected to be offered for only about $200 - 250 US and one of it's functions is as an ebook reader. Thats cheaper than most high res PDA's.


I'm not suggesting not having any print books or publications.

I'm just hoping for wider developments for electronic applications that can do for authors what the Web has done for, say, musicians.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.