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Sony Takes Aim At Amazon's Kindle 273

MojoKid writes "Sony recently announced two new eBook readers and has set its sights on tapping into Amazon's Kindle market share. The Sony Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition will come out at the end of the month and will reportedly cost less or the same as the older, more established Kindle. The Pocket Edition has a five-inch display, comes in several colors ('including navy blue, rose and silver') and fits, as one might expect, in a jacket pocket or a purse. It can store about 350 'standard eBooks' and can last about two weeks on a single charge, Sony claims. The Touch Edition is a bit larger, with a six-inch display that, as you'd expect, can be controlled via a touch interface."
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Sony Takes Aim At Amazon's Kindle

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  • by Froze ( 398171 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:47PM (#28980013)
    That is, unless they have fixed their battery tech.
    • by earnest murderer ( 888716 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:53PM (#28980075)

      They'll just play an animation of a book burning as they erase them remotely.

    • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:08PM (#28980265)
      You might be joking about the hardware, but ebook readers need more and cheaper content to become popular. People want books where they only pay for the content and delivery costs. Not publishers setting artificially high prices to not compete with paper based books. Not to mention that we need significantly more books in the catalog. Only a small percentage of the books available on Amazon have ebook peers.
      • I just installed the Stanza app on my iPhone, and I can pull all the classics from Project Gutenberg for free. And when the new Star Wars novels come out, my wife downloads them on her Kindle app on her iPhone. Paid content and free content both accessible via free apps on the iPhone, and no $400 reader required.

        • I've tried reading ebooks on my desktop, my netbook and my iphone. I haven't been able to do it yet. Backlit screens just suck ass for reading for any length of time.

          I tried stanza.

        • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
          You make it sound like the iphone is free.
          • If you're the kind of gadget freak who is considering dropping $400 on an eReader, there is a decent chance you have an iPhone.

            The iPhone has its faults, but one of the best aspects of the iPhone is that it replaces several other gadgets. It is one less thing to carry, charge, or worry about. It is also one less thing to purchase.

            You're definitely going to carry a cell phone. Are you going to carry a Kindle?

            • You're definitely going to carry a cell phone.

              True, but I carry an el-cheapo Audiovox phone from Virgin Mobile and I only use about $6 per month worth of airtime because I only make calls that I can't make from a land line, such as arranging rides. Until smartphone service becomes nearly this affordable, I'll stick with a separate phone and PDA.

              • by Unoti ( 731964 )

                Until smartphone service becomes nearly this affordable, I'll stick with a separate phone and PDA.

                Here's a man that doesn't have deep pockets, but does have big pockets with lots of stuff in them!

        • ...on the iPhone, and no $400 reader required.

          I read ebooks on my netbook, no $400 reader required. I just had to buy the netbook; did you have to buy your phone first? And a netbook costs less than an iphone if you shop around. Netbooks have FAR larger screens than readers and readers even have larger screens than the little iphone so what's your point?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It is the hardware. Reading PDFs for technical books is not really practical on current eBook readers, because it takes a couple of seconds to refresh the screen.

        It's fine for novels where you read from cover to cover, but if you need to flip back and forth, skim or scroll then two seconds is too much.

    • Maybe they should join up with Amazon. That sounds right up their alley.

  • Good for Sony (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I was starting to get worried about their eBook commitment with outdated PRS-500/505 models. Don't need Whispernet and don't need a freaking dedicated keyboard on a eBook device. Just give me the text and native PDF support.

    I'm a big fan of Amazon but Kindle just rubs me the wrong way. I'm considered to be their target demographic too - a left coast liberal yuppie who loves to read obscure novels by authors who committed suicide. But I never made my peace with the device.

    • Re:Good for Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:42PM (#28980585)

      I'm a big fan of Amazon but Kindle just rubs me the wrong way. I'm considered to be their target demographic too - a left coast liberal yuppie who loves to read obscure novels by authors who committed suicide.

      Actually in the first 5 of Kindle Top Sellers at this moment are Michelle Malkin's "Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies" and Glenn Beck's "Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against and Out-of-Control Government,...". There isn't a single liberal leaning rant anywhere in the top 30, but I also see Dick Morris and Mark R. Levin from the right. So your assumption about the target demographic might be a tad off.

      • Sony doesn't have Amazon's catalog and their software and net-fu are inferior.

        The kindle will be buried either by either:

        1- revolutionary advances in battery technology that'll make netbooks and tablets into book readers

        2- Or by a company that has UI know-how, enough money and savvy to build a triple-A network and a willingness to lose money to gain a foothold on the market. (IE: Microsoft)

      • This very thought, the idea that the method of distribution could be gamed (much like the media) in an effort to guide/hijack public opinion, occurred to me as soon as I saw the article about Amazon deleting all the copies of "1984" from people's Kindles.

        But my inherent cynicism (ironically/coincidentally, cynicism largely a product of my reading "1984") went a little further down the road with that idea.

        Has anyone done comparisons of the actual text in the versions of a book on a Kindle with the text of pr

        • Occam's razor applies here. The rankings prove that using a brazenly partisan cable TV show to direct sheeple to read yet more of the same partisan crap in book/ebook form is far more thought control than furtive tweaking of content could ever be.

          • "plurality should not be posited without necessity."

            I agree. But do those that have the means of doing such as I described in my post know that?

            We have both the CIA and the NSA. Four branches of military that these days are pretty much redundant in many ways.

            Hell, Warcraft and Starcraft from the same publisher.

            Occam's Razor is an interesting principle, but unless your aware of it, and consider it, it is kind of moot.

  • What I want (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:55PM (#28980109)
    I'm waiting for something with a reasonably decent screen, a decent flash drive, a few buttons. No subscription services, no wireless, no connectivity at all, no note taking or annotation features, no voice or recording... Just a thumbdrive hooked to a screen. That hardware should be WELL under $100. The extra features turn me off more than incentivize me.

    Currently, I'm using my DS, and it's adequate. It can scroll text, html, and pdf. Good return on a $7 cartridge, since I already had a DS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oh I'm sorry, would you like a pony with that?
    • You've pretty much described the Sony 505, although it's around $300 (although assumedly it will come down when the new 600 is released).

      What you're paying for with the e-ink readers is the very-nice-screen, which looks like a printed page. If you're willing to suffer reading from an LCD screen, then check out the eBookwise reader [], which is again pretty much exactly what you're describing. Although, very weird proprietary file formats.

    • Wait for the Chinese clones to come out with what you want. As soon as e-ink displays become cheaper and e-books become more popular, you can expect to see exactly what you are looking for at a dodgy mall booth or wholesaler website.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BlueF ( 550601 )
      Been using my eBay'ed $115 Sony eReader 505 for the last year. Aside from price being a little more, sounds exactly like what you describe.

      I literally don't leave home without it.

      Love being able to keep up on my reading on my lunch break or any other downtime that comes along.

      I have been tempted to switch to a Kindle, for it's syncing ability with my iPhone (for those times when I may have a few minutes and have left my eReader in my desk/car), but can't justify the added cost and presumably close
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by karl75771 ( 1142947 )

      I'm waiting for something with a reasonably decent screen, a decent flash drive, a few buttons. No subscription services, no wireless, no connectivity at all, no note taking or annotation features, no voice or recording... Just a thumbdrive hooked to a screen. That hardware should be WELL under $100. The extra features turn me off more than incentivize me. Currently, I'm using my DS, and it's adequate. It can scroll text, html, and pdf. Good return on a $7 cartridge, since I already had a DS.

      Instead of buying this crap, you could just buy a netbook for $299.

    • Actually the only thing the kindle has going for it (as far as I am concerned) is the free wireless wikipedia access. I think that is pretty damn cool. Without that feature I'd buy it for $150.
  • by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:57PM (#28980125)

    There was a good article in the New Yorker which brings one up to date with the genesis and current state of the kindle, and e-books in general. The author orders one and then proceeds to write an article about his experience. He compares it to paper books, discusses amazons choice of a non free and closed format, and generally reviews it quite well. Having an ad blocker and hating all that is spamazon has kept me out of the loop with these new e-book readers so it was a nice intro to the current scene.

    The article is available online at the following link: Kindle and the Future of Reading []

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @06:58PM (#28980135)

    and via iTunes. Music, movies.... books are just another story telling medium. And figuring digital distribution IS the future, why not?

    Too bad about their break with Google over some stupid voice apps... because Google may have been a great partner (ie Google Books) for Apple to catch up to Amazon.

    And the upgrade cycle would/is tremendous like the iPods were. Black/white small screen -> B/W big screen -> color screen -> flexible (?) screen -> ???

    Right after the 1st generation Kindle, with it's fugly looks, probably would have been the best time to get in. Even now, it wouldn't be bad... the kindle isn't a computer, doesn't have speed, etc. All things Apple could one up for those people that want a book reader and something to browse with and that's it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I think the rumored Apple tablet would be great for e-books but there are a few problems with the books. For one, its not perfect. Apple strives for perfection, for example, the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player but it was the first small one with a decent capacity hard drive. And it also doesn't have the simplicity in prices that Apple wants, Apple only wants a few main price points, and books open up a huge gap, while I would easily pay 99 cents for a 4 minute song as I would an 8 minute song, I'm not goin
    • by mugnyte ( 203225 )

        They don't need to. They already provide a platform (iPod/iPhone) that is the marketplace for content. They don't need to compete for "eReaders" because there are already dozens of them available on the Apple store.

    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @09:05PM (#28981333) Homepage Journal []

      Apple recently invited a great deal of criticism after it rejected Google's Google Voice application from App Store. At the same time, it pulled third party GV apps leaving their developers without recourse and forced to swallow refund costs that exceeded their initial per-sale earnings. Today Engadget notes Daring Fireball's story of a simple dictionary being censored. Now it looks as if Apple may be targeting the e-book section of App Store.

      I only cut part of the article, feel free to read the rest, but Apple is up to something or maybe not. Considering you can "Kindle" on it through Amazon I am trying to work out why their stance has changed even for people with unquestionable rights to the material they publish

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        I am trying to work out why their stance has changed even for people with unquestionable rights to the material they publish

        No rights are unquestionable. Just ask (the estate of) George Harrison, who lost a million-dollar lawsuit for accidentally copying Ronald Mack's "He's So Fine" into Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:03PM (#28980199) Journal
    I don't need one to fit in my pocket, I need one that will fit in my briefcase or backpack, and is suitable for showing letter-sized pages at full scale without having to scroll all over the place, not seeing the whole page at any one time. Oh, and it absolutely *HAS* to be able to display user content (pdf's, in particular), not just content that some manufacturer or publisher thinks I might want to use it to read.
    • I think I saw one of those on ST:TNG. Usually someone is holding one and walking fast like it's a clipboard.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by moonka ( 889094 )
      That sounds exactly like the Kindle DX ( []). While the ebooks Amazon sells have DRM, it reads all sorts of formats, and DX reads pdfs (I don't believe the kindle 2 has one). I have a kindle one and the majority of my reading material is things I have put on it, be it from,, or other sources.
  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:10PM (#28980297) Homepage Journal

    "The software also is compatible with both PCs and Apple computers and enable the user to read PDF, Word, BBeB and other text files on the Reader."

    - that right there.

    When I first made my paperback book available in paperback format in early 2007 Amazon offered to convert it (it was in PDF format) to their kindle format for me, I said sure, and almost immediately found out that the formatting didn't work out. I pulled it from the kindle store and asked if I could do the conversion on my own. They said sure, but their format was html. Because of the charts and imagery and the way the text was done in the book there wasn't any easy way of converting the 162 page PDF into essentially a big ass website. I opted to ignore the kindle and since then haven't suffered for it in anyway.

    Now my books are available in PDF format and I'm converting many of the stories into RTF versions for mobile devices. The fact that Sony now has a reader that can view html formated ebooks as well as RTF, Word and PDF files means I soon will have another outlet for my products without me having to do any type of special conversion on my end, which for me means I get another revenue stream, a potentially larger client base and no additional time cost. Win Win.

    • by Late Adopter ( 1492849 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:33PM (#28980509)
      If your book isn't page-size agnostic, you're going to get crappy results from PDF support on ANY reader. Nobody has a screen size that's 8.5x11 (maybe your PDF is smaller? paperback sized?). Sony does offer a full-page zoomed-out view (I believe), but that's almost impossible to read. As soon as you start to zoom in and reflow text, you worry about things like charts breaking.

      Bottom line, you should be writing your books in some sort of open semantic mark-up format like EPUB, which was designed for this purpose.
    • by forand ( 530402 )
      You do realize that is the software on the PC which has been criticized in the past for doing a very poor job of converting PDFs to Sony eReader format?
    • by AaronW ( 33736 )

      The problem is that the ebook readers don't like page formatted documents because they need to resize them to fit their screens and the font size selected. PDFs are crappy for this. I believe Amazon accepts other formats like doc and will convert them. If your book requires specific page formatting then it doesn't lend itself to most ebook readers.

    • I interpret that statement (with knowledge of the shit sony typically spins) that their windows and mac software will "enable the user to read PDF, Word, BBeB and other text files on the Reader". in other words, it's going to do a conversion and look just as shitty as the kindle version amazon did for you. perhaps it's poorly worded and the device actually supports those formats natively... but this is sony we are talking about so I doubt it
  • Do either the Kindle or Sony ebooks have color displays?

    • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 )

      Do either the Kindle or Sony ebooks have color displays?

      Not yet. Color eInk is very new. The Kindle 3 (2011, probably) will probably have it.

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:24PM (#28980429) Homepage Journal

    It's a Sony Clie SJ22.

    Yes, I know it's like six years old.

    Yes, I know it's only 320x320.

    Don't care. It works better as an eBook reader than anything bigger could, because it's small enough I can take it anywhere.

    Plus it plays Alchemy and Bejeweled and Collapse and Seven Seas, and holds all my names and addresses and magic numbers.

    And I can use it as an IR remote to freak people out in bars by surreptitiously turning the TV off and on.

    Do that on your Kindle.

    • I loved my Clie... it was so small and handy to have around. But that's a niche that's happily filled by my Pre now. For books I'm extraordinarily pleased with my PRS-505 with the e-ink display. It really is a step up.
    • by abigor ( 540274 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:58PM (#28980757)

      Try reading it outside in bright, direct sunlight (ie the beach).

      Readers like these Sony ones and the Kindle are all about the e-ink displays, full stop. They are awesome, and the charge life is measured in weeks. LCDs are shit for reading books, honestly.

      • by argent ( 18001 )

        Try reading it outside in bright, direct sunlight (ie the beach).

        Works fine, it's got a transflective display like just about every color PDA since around 2000.

        • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

          Are you kidding? I've yet to see any kind of LCD screen stand up to direct sunlight. I read e-paper in direct sunlight all the time.

          It's whole purpose for existing is to be able to be read in direct sunlight.

        • by abigor ( 540274 )

          I guess E-Ink should close up shop then, because they clearly have no product, right? You should pick up the phone and let them know your old Sony's display beats the pants off their e-ink nonsense. You should probably let Amazon know too. Sony sure will be relieved to know they can fall back on this old product! You've just saved them a bundle.

  • by michael1221988 ( 1613671 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @07:25PM (#28980449)
    By jaysonelliot on Aug 6, 2009 (on TFA) "Older, more established Kindle?" The Kindle was released in Nov. 2007 - the Sony Reader was released in September 2006, and was based on the nearly identical Sony Libre which had been on sale in Japan since early 2004. As of December, the Reader had sold 300,000 units in the US alone, while the Kindle was trailing behind at 240,000. I believe you meant to say "â¦the newer, less established Kindle."
  • The SONY readers can show PDF files which is great, but those screens are too damned small. You might as well carry around a Netbook. The good news is Amazon have finally backed off their proprietary+DRM stupidity and allowed PDF on Kindles' too: []

    Now they should go the next step and give you an oyster fork so you can pry out their BigBrotheresque Wireless connection which from the 1984 debacle we've seen has more cons than pros.

    • The Sonys have a zoom feature that scales very well with most PDF files, letting you read them easily on the small screen. (Some scanned PDFs will not work, some will, anything thats not scanned will work every time).

  • Awesome news for us Kindle fans, we'll be seeing a price drop AND a Kindle Touch soon.

    Sony? Who the hell cares about Sony?

  • Can anybody tell the difference between the touch edition and the PRS 700? As far as I can see its the exact same device (just cheaper).

  • Ok, where are they?

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Ok, where are they?

      Being held up in developed countries' customs until the patents expire.

  • (According to their about page [])

    Which means that the reader holds only 0.0000109375 LoC. ...just so you have a value that you can relate to something.

  • $9.99 for an eBook? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rix ( 54095 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @09:20PM (#28981449)

    What are they smoking? Paperbacks cost less than that, and I'd expect something with zero production cost to be an order of magnitude cheaper.

    This is just begging for piracy.

    • by initdeep ( 1073290 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @09:39PM (#28981573)

      because they are releasing the ebooks at the same time as the hard back editions of new books, not a year later in paperback.

      so it is significantly cheaper than the $25-40 price range of a hardback book.

      there are also cheaper older books available as well.

      and over 500,000 free classics.

      and of course there's always calibre and torrent sites with LIT format books.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @09:46PM (#28981621) Homepage

    I'll consider getting another eBook device when they make it possible to lend an eBook the way I can lend a physical book.

    I want to be able to lend Kindle books... commercial, protected, bestseller-type books... to a person with a Sony reader. I want to be able to replace my Sony reader three years down the road with whatever eBook reading device appeals to me and move all my books to the new device.

    And I want to be able to make the transfers just as I can today with a physical book.

    I have $300 worth of ebooks I purchased for my Rocket eBook. When I bought them I was assured that if I ever needed to replace the device, I could just give them the new serial number and re-download the books re-coded for the new device. Well, I my eBook device finally bit the dust. I now have $300 worth of eBooks that can be read only on a device that no longer exists, unless I buy a replacement device that doesn't exist, contact a customer service department that no longer exists, and re-download them from a server that no longer exists, operated by a company that no longer exists.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    • by ahecht ( 567934 )

      Technically, the company does exist. Nuvomedia, the maker of the Rocket, was purchased by Gemstar, who merged with TV Guide to become Gemstar TV Guide, who then merged with Macrovision Corp to become Macrovision Solutions Corp, and finally, just this past month, changed its name to Rovi Corp ( [] ).

  • Solar Panel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmigaHeretic ( 991368 ) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:43AM (#28982825) Journal
    How effective would a solar cell be on an ebook reader like this? A little larger version of the kind found on cheap/free calculators since 1985. I know calc batteries last for like a year vs an eBook reader being 2 weeks, so the power is higher. I'd think, however, in the last 25 years solar has become a little more efficient. Just a thought.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.