Sony Shrinks the Size and Cost of E-Books

By  |  Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Sony ReaderIf Sony is a bit nonplussed over all the attention for Amazon’.coms Kindle, it’s understandable. The Japanese consumer-electronics behemoth beat Amazon to market with e-book readers that share much of the Kindle’s appeal and technology, and their current touchscreen model arguably has a better interface than the Kindle 2. (Of course, the Kindle benefits hugely from its wireless connection and large selection of new books.)

Sony Reader Touch EditionNow Sony’s striking back with a couple of interesting new e-readers–including one called the Reader Pocket Edition (seen at left) that has a five-inch e-ink screen and a $199 pricetag, $100 less than the Kindle 2. Its very name pitches it as being pocketable; I haven’t seen one in person, but I’m guessing that the five-inch display means it’ll be a tight fit in a shirt pocket. (The pocket-filling iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen).

I’ll be intrigued to see if a relatively cheap, relatively small e-reader will appeal to folks who haven’t splurged on a Kindle. It’s true that iPhones and iPods Touch already make pretty pleasing e-readers thanks to apps like Kindle for iPhone and Eucalyptus, but the Pocket Edition’s screen is larger and its E-Ink display should let it run for days on a charge.

Sony is also announcing the Reader Touch Edition (at right), a touchscreen model which matches the Kindle’s six-inch screen and $299 price, but doesn’t have wireless. (Sony told ZDnet that it’s working on a wireless device.) It’s also matching Amazon’s price of $9.99 for bestsellers and new releases–down from $11.99–and touting its million-book library, although that figure includes a lotta public-domain tomes from Google.

People keep treating the Plastic Logic reader as the Kindle’s principal rival, and maybe it will be, once it stops being vaporous (it’s due sometime next year). For now, though, it’s really an Amazon-Sony battle–and it’s nice to see Sony coming back for more.

Are you any more interested in a $199 five-inch Sony e-reader (sans wireless) than in a $299 six-inch Amazon one?


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. matthews Says:

    I bought a PRS-505 — the previous version of sans-touchscreen sans-wireless ebook-reader from Sony. I really liked it, until the screen broke from light pressure from something else in my backpack, despite being in it’s protective pleather case.

    I won’t be buying another ebook reader from anyone until they’re bloody cheap — the screens are just too damn fragile!

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