Sony Reader in the Press

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These are mainly online reviews and commentaries on the Sony Reader before it got shipped. For more recent reviews, go to the Sony Reader Reviews.

[edit] Links to external articles that mention the Sony Reader

  • Sony is the featured customer for this e-ink spec page - "Destined to transform the electronic reading experience, the lightweight Sony® Reader is expected to bring a whole new meaning to 'book smart.'"
  • Wikipedia has a Sony Reader entry - Also included in the entry are a lot of links to articles in the press, and a link to MobileRead.
  • USA Today says James Patterson is a Sony Reader fan - "Among early fans: best-selling author James Patterson. 'It will get people to look at books in another way,' he says. 'As we get more and more comfortable watching television on our cellphones, maybe people who have an eBook may read a few chapters (instead).'"
  • Guardian Limited says publishers are preparing and waiting for the iPod of the book world - "But although we shouldn't expect to see ebooks 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.'" That's really interesting because we all seem to have the impression they see it as more of a threat and less of an opportunity. Is it possible publishers really are becoming enthusiastic and we didn't see the turnaround?
  • Book Business Extra has some info from Nick Bogaty of the IDPF - Speaking on why e-books haven't taken off yet, he says, "I think there are a huge variety of reasons .... I think on the hardware side, screen resolution and battery life are the magic points and I think the Sony Reader has done a lot to accomplish those things."
  • Sony Press Release says Borders will sell the Sony Reader - "As part of the relationship, Borders customers will also have the opportunity to purchase prepaid cards, redeemable online for e-books at the Sony CONNECT service which will offer a broad selection of trade fiction and non-fiction e-books from major and independent publishers at prices competitive with books offered in stores." You ever wonder where some writers find such slick wording about a device they know nothing about? Sometimes you may just have to refer to the press release!
  • ePublishing Daily says it's a book reader not a multimedia device - "if you’re after a true multimedia device then this might not be for you: there’s no audio, it’s in black and white and there are no flash videos or any other multimedia-type apps to be seen. But I guess the natural tendency when bringing to market a new product is to make it as simple as possible for it’s basic use … and maybe down the road add the bells and whistles."
  • The WSJ says Sony had better be open with the Sony Reader - <Subscription Only?> "Sony's 'DRM implementation killed their own players and created an environment where Apple could flourish,' says Rob Enderle, a technology analyst with Enderle Group, a consulting firm in San Jose, California. If Sony is able to learn from these mistakes, however, the Reader could be a big boost for a company whose cutting-edge image has suffered lately from a lack of hit products, he says. "The early specs are very encouraging as it should support rtf, pdf and text.
  • Internet Retailer says Sony turns the page on e-books - "Sony Electronics and Borders Group Inc. are teaming to sell online book-reading devices, a move Sony believes will spur sales of a new type of commerce-enabled handheld device and digital books."
  • Publishers Weekly talks about the Sony Reader - They say that the price is high and that books will only be available through Sony's online store, but quote Nick Bogaty as saying "Nick Bogaty, head of the International Digital Publishing Forum, called the Sony Reader the most compelling e-book reader developed. He said the combination of Sony's marketing muscle with the amount of digital content now available could result in a significant increase in e-book sales." I think they may have missed the mark a bit with the availability of books, because text and pdf is widespread, but it seems likely that the average consumer might feel like the Sony store is their only book source when they first buy the device.
  • Forbes talks about Barnes & Noble not selling the device - "Indeed. If Stringer is hoping to spawn a revolution in the way we read books, (in the same way Steve Jobs changed the way we listen to music with Apple Computer's iPod) the Sony Reader will have to find appeal beyond early-bird gadget seekers."
  • Thomas Net says it features one-handed navigation - That's something we've been learning to expect to some degree in smart phones, but seems like a great goal for e-book readers also.
  • Mercury News says some seller don't want it - But they also say "With its soft cover, high resolution and ability to last for hours on a single charge, the Sony Reader has been praised by e-book advocates as a breakthrough."
  • Pocket Lint reports on the CES announcement - "As Pocket-lint predicted last year, Sony has launched an English version of its e-book reader for the US and UK markets."
  • Dexigner calls it stylish and durable - "Coupling an innovative electronic paper display with precise one-handed navigation and a stylish, durable design, the Sony Reader will allow active readers to carry as much as they want to read whether they are traveling on the road or just around the corner."
  • Best Stuff says there will be a lot of content available - "Booklovers will applaud the broad selection of eBooks already available for purchase and download to the Reader device. Many of the world's leading book publishers, including Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin-Putnam, Simon & Schuster and Time Warner Book Group will support Sony's e-reading initiative. Many independent and specialty publishers will also have eBook titles available for purchase and download to the Sony Reader. Manga comics and graphic novels from innovative houses such as TOKYOPOP are rendered beautifully on the device and will also be available for download."
  • The Standard (Chinese Newspaper) says Dan Brown is an enthusiast for the Reader - Here's some of what Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, has said. "'It is not about replacing books,' he said. 'But e-books offer features that traditional books cannot. For example, rather than carrying several books while traveling, owners of a Reader need take only one on holiday. If I want a new book, I can download it instantly online even if it is two in the morning,' Brown said."
  • PC Magazine says Sony has the jump on Phillips Readius - "Sony will have the jump on Philips, though, as the two gadgets square off. Third-party designs of the Readius won't ship until the summer. If these two products don't herald the age of e-books, nothing will." But it seems that neither device is coming as quickly as we had hoped.
  • David Rothman from TeleRead isn't so happy with Sony - "Regardless of Sony’s grudging concessions to “openness,” the nature of the beast is unchanged. We’re talking about a company with a proprietary mindset and insufficient respect for open standards."
  • Rob says the Reader has a faster screen than the Librie - I cant tell if he's from e-ink or not, but this is a thread at the eink support forums, so I'm guessing this is true. I just haven't confirmed it.
  • Econtent Magazine quotes Nick Bogaty from the IDPF - "Bogaty thinks the Sony Reader has great market potential, but cautions against making comparisons with Apple's wildly successful iPod. 'I think it's highly dangerous for anyone, including Sony, to make any comparison to iPod types of reach. I would be incredibly surprised if something like that happened because that kind of reach, as far as digital media [is concerned , has happened to only one device, and that's the iPod. I don't think [the Sony Reader is going to explode the industry, but could it double or triple the industry? Yes, possibly. But I would be careful to say that this is the iPod of ebooks.'"
  • Anime on DVD refers to two great articles - The author says he or she would be happy with iPod-like pricing from the Sony Connect store.
  • This PDANews article tells us what people are looking for - They quote Ron Hawkins, senior vice president of Personal Reader Systems marketing at Sony Electronics as saying, "'Our research has shown that people are looking for a device designed exclusively for immersive reading. The Sony Reader with its electronic paper display, thin format and extraordinary battery life fits the bill.'"
  • ABC News reports that Barnes & Noble and Amazon won't be selling the Reader - We know now why Amazon won't sell it (they have their own reader coming out called the Kindle), but here's what Barnes & Noble says... "'We have sold e-readers before and they haven't done particularly well,' Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said Tuesday in response to a query from The Associated Press." Hmm, I bet Apple is glad they didn't think that way about selling mp3 players!
  • BBC News says Sony is targeting book lovers - "'In recent years millions of people have become comfortable downloading and enjoying digital media, including e-books,' said Ron Hawkins of Sony Electronics. 'But until now, there has not been a good device on which to read.'"
  • Lets Go Digital seems pretty upbeat - "The Sony Reader is expected to bring a whole new meaning to "book smart." Coupling an innovative electronic paper display with precise one-handed navigation and a stylish, durable design, the Sony Reader will allow active readers to carry as much as they want to read whether they are traveling on the road or just around the corner."
  • Wired tells us that Sony may change the frustrating past of e-book readers - "'The problem was that the devices weren't very good, the screens were terrible, the prices were too high and there was a terrible selection of content,' said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at JupiterResearch, a market research company. By contrast, Gartenberg said, the Sony Reader is small and readable enough to interest consumers."
  • Jeffrey Young says Sony just doesn't get it - This is actually as quoted by Dan Farber. "Haven't we heard this idea before? Didn't electronic books fail miserably a few years back? Isn't it totally obvious that compared to buying a book, which is utterly portable, requires no batteries, has a well-defined user interface, and comes equipped to be understood by most pairs of eyes, buying a crippled digital player that can only handle one kind of media–and can't even surf the Web in 2006–is a stupid idea. Add the fact that you can only buy books that publishers have translated into Sony's format, running the gauntlet of the company's own hated Digital Rights Management software, and that they cost almost as much as the book anyway, and you have to wonder what is in the sushi they serve at Sony's headquarters. For about the same price as one of these 'readers,' I can buy a PDA that has few limitations, will surf the Web and let me send email, is about the same size, and can already display books to boot. Speaking of PDAs, Palm even created an electronic books subsidiary called that seems to be thriving. What exactly is Sony adding?" But I think he missed the whole point of e-ink.. it's different than reading on any other kind of portable reading device.
  • The WSJ says something like the Sony Reader will catch on - <Subscription only> "If the Sony Reader (which goes on sale this spring) takes off where previous ventures fell flat, it will be because Sony is offering what marketers call an "end to end" solution to the problem of the e-book. That kind of one-stop shopping is what made Apple's iPod so successful: You don't just buy the iPod itself, but an easy-to-use system that allows you to download any one of tens of thousands of popular songs within minutes of taking your iPod out of the box. So will it fly? I don't know. Still, I'm certain that something like the Sony Reader will catch on, if not this year then in a short time. The phenomenal success of the iPod strongly suggests that many, perhaps most, consumers are ready to start buying digital books on the Web and storing and reading them electronically." Unfortunately, spring didn't pan out. We're still waiting. By the way, there's an awful lot of great coverage in the Wall Street Journal. I wish it was all freely available. Even if you have a subscription, some articles require payment. But if you do have a subscription, try a search for Sony Reader.
  • Eastman's Online Genealogy says genealogy e-books will appear - "For nearly twenty years, futurists have been predicting the imminent demise of printed books. The “conventional wisdom” has been that digital “e-books” were on the verge of replacing paper books. There are many reasons why: lower expenses, ease of ordering and receiving books, reduced storage space, and more. There's only one problem: none of the predictions have yet come true. Now Sony finally has a new device that may hasten the demise of paper-based books."
  • PC Magazine says Sony promises to revive e-books - "Sony first showed off the Reader, its next-generation e-book reader, at CES in January, with a promise that it would revive an e-book landscape littered with disappointing products such as the Gemstar eBook, the Rocket eBook, and the Franklin eBookMan."
  • Mile High Comics says the Reader is manga friendly - "Gizmodo is blogging live from the show and as their picture shows, manga -- epsicifically TRIGUN -- is being used to demonstrate how the Reader works."
  • Crave from CNet says Sony gets its Reader right - And they have some celebrity ties at CES also... "Dan Brown, author of the indefatigable Da Vinci Code, was wheeled out by Sony to demonstrate his bestselling book in electronic form. He was accompanied by Tom Hanks, star of the new film, who defied the Sony throng by mocking the autocue used by Sony's CEO and repeatedly referring to podcasts (the radio-like service synonymous with Apple's iPod)."
  • Gearlog is optimistic - "I am cautiously optimistic about the device. It is slim, super-portable, and the electronic ink display looks great. The reported $250-$300 price seems a little steep, but if the company makes it as format-agnostic as they have said (supporting PDFs, Word doc, and most other text files) they could have a winner." Interestingly, he has the price lower than other sources, and he says in the article that he's tired of trying to read on his Treo.
  • ZDNet reviews it, but isn't sure about the Connect store - "The Sony Reader pumps new life into e-book readers with its revolutionary technology, but the value of the Sony Connect service is still in question."
  • Q&A with a Sony Electronics VP - <Word document warning> "Following significant consumer and media buzz about the LIBRIe here in the States, SONY studied the possibility of creating a U.S. version of the device. We subsequently determined that there was sufficient interest and a market need for the product."
  • Science Fiction in the News relates it to Hitchhikers Guide and Clark's 1968 "newspad" - And there's some cool pics (like with a graphic novel) and other info.
  • Mobile Magazine thinks it won't be out this year - "If you are an avid reader, and you have been anxiously waiting for the Sony Reader to arrive to make your reading experience truly pleasurable, then you will have to practice some more patience. The Sony Reader had been delayed yet again, and likely won’t show up before the end of the year."
  • PC World says it's easy on the eyes - "Sony today issued the latest electronic challenge to the printed page."
  • Tech Living isn't completely sold yet - "There have been plenty of e-book readers before, but none have caught on. Perhaps it's because reading documents on electronic displays for long periods of time hurts the eyes. Sony is hoping that's the main reason anyway, not the fact that people who read a lot of books are, well, bookish. Available shortly, the Sony Reader uses E Ink technology, which doesn't use any sort of emitting diodes, and therefore won't hurt your eyes."
  • Bill McCoy of Adobe talks about Sony Reader and Adobe PDF - This is from back in January, soon after the announcement, and did you notice he's already talking about a PRS product line? I sure hope he's right that the first Sony Reader is the beginning of a long line of readers! "There has been quite a bit of speculation on the nature of the PDF support in the Sony Reader PRS-500 product announced by Sony at CES. To clarify, the Sony Reader supports true Adobe PDF via Adobe software. This is an extension of an previously announced partnership that has delivered PDF support into several Sony consumer electronics products, including a car navigation system... I expect the Sony PRS product line to be a great success."
  • EcoGeek likes the Sony Reader - "So, it seems that news surrounding e-readers is taking off a bit, what with the somewhat accidental announcement of Amazon's Kindle yesterday. Comparing this with my Librie, I'd say the advantages are: 1. Price, this is cheaper at roughly $350 retail. 2. Better contrast ratio, lighter whites, darker blacks. 3. The instructions are in English! 4. Faster load times, you shouldn't have to wait for a book to boot up. 5. You don't have to hack the lame DRM! Unless the Kindle (with it's wireless capabilities) comes in around or below this price, this will be my choice for my next E-book reader. That is, if they ever release it to the public."
  • Jane at Dear Author is not convinced - "As much as I am seduced by the idea of a device that reads like ink on paper, the restrictions are going to prevent me from buying this device. I think."
  • Armchair Arcade talks about the Sony Reader - "The gotchas are of course this device is black and white, it's yet another device to tote around, and it's quite expensive (or likely will be when actually released). What's worse, Apple may be thinking about entering the e-book space with their ever present iPod line and iTunes, leveraging a well established brand, form factor and service. Of course no matter what modifications are made to the iPod going forward, be they game or e-book abilities, it will not be optimized for either function. Even though iPod's have long since added photo and more recently video support, an iPod still excels primarily at music."
  • You Cried For the Night shares some thoughts on e-book readers - He's commenting on an article by Monica Dux's called 'Bound To Please', in The Age. He says, "Dux was very enthusiastic about the purported uptake of e-readers, and I can't really imagine why given the current publishing complexities for these platforms. Most users of e-books are people who own PDAs - they are not exactly a majority of the population... Most users of e-books are people who own PDAs - they are not exactly a majority of the population...Even more incredibly, Dux suggested airily that there will be no textbooks in a few years time, only e-texts, and that children will have as warm a relationship with these as they have had with their first readers. Pffft."
  • Sony's showcase page for the Sony Reader - Simple and short animated presentation page for the Sony Reader.
  • Runners Who Read comment on the showcase page - "In theory, I love the idea... My bottom line is always the price, though. It was my understanding that they were going to be wicked expensive." "Anyway, with a reader, what do you purchase? A license of sorts? And where/how do you make marginalia? And if you want more than one book open at a time, how does that work? I'm a skeptic." "I still like reading 'the paper' in hand better than on line, but you can't beat the convenience of the computer. The computer doesn't end up in the puddle in the front lawn. Sigh."
  • Peter Davidson says the Sony Reader solves three issues - "The new Sony Reader ebook reading device to be released this spring is poised to be the first widely successful ebook reader. I know first hand because I have one of the last generation of readers and the Sony Reader solves three of the main faults of previous readers. I now these issues first hand because these were the faults of the RCA book reader I owned a few years ago." He goes on to discuss screen, batteries and weight. Then concludes with... "Anybody who says they wouldn't like it, they'd miss paper pages, they can't curl up with a screen, etc. has never tried it. I enjoyed a number of books on my RCA reader. I used it on airplanes. I curled up with it at bedtime. All the while I enjoyed being able to switch between a whole collection of books. To the doubters I say don't knock it until you try it."
  • Michael at Safe As Milk is tired of waiting - "I guess it's coming out soon since they're sending out testers. I was pretty geeked to get one of these, but that was back in February. Delay after delay after delay. Thanks, Sony. Now I have to spec it out against the Amazon e-reader before I do anything."
  • Jared's Blog - Jared seems to like the device, but feels like it's a tough product to market. He feels the early market is hard to reach because techies already have nice Tablet PC screens to read on, avid readers love paper, and travelers will use their laptops. "It sounds like a great product-- I'd love to own one-- but, I'd hate to be tasked with developing a marketing plan for it. It's a classic example of a solution without a problem. While it's possible to overcome this difficulty (TiVo, bottled water...), at the current price point of $400, it seems unlikely." Personally, I think he may never have seen an e-ink display. Other devices apparently just can't compare for the reading experience.
  • Sony Press Release Jan 4, 2006
  • Chitika News - Sony Reader: The new wave of eBook Reading - "The eInk® techonology provides clarity and a resolution to rival even paper itself! They claim that reading the Sony® Reader is easy, whether in full daylight or indoors. I also like the fact that you can increase the text for us older generation that have misplaed our reading glasses." "I am not easily swayed by this techo-world. But I do like to read, and this device seems to fit into my lifestyle easily. It also has that Star Trek flair." "So does this mean the end of traditional books? I doubt it. But it definately will make “e” reading less tiring on the eyes and more convenient when travelling."
  • Sony presentation at IDPF conference on 5/19/2006 - <pdf warning> Includes key product features and a business concept overview.
  • Engadget with the Sony Reader - This article is from Jan 6, 2006. And it looks on the surface as if the device is about ready to go. I'd say that pretty much tells us that the eventual rollout will not be beta device, but something ready for market. There's some really great pics of the device and the docking unit here.
  • Cork University Press - "The Sony Reader--may an e-book device finally succeed--will be sold at some 30 Sony Style stores, Sony's Web site and about 200 Borders stores. At the Borders stores, demos will be available and customers can buy cards redeemable for e-texts online. The Sony Reader will cost $300-$400 and should launch this summer."

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