Tag Archives: Sony eReader

Can Sony Rescue eReader from Red Inkbath?

Sony has announced a ¥455 billion loss in its fiscal year, which ended last March. But not to worry: that only sounds scary because of the yen is so big compared to the US dollar.  In dollars that’s only $5.7 billion.

Hmm.  $5.7 billion sounds like a lot, actually. Enough to drop the company’s value to about 3% of Apple’s.

Sony is the company that brought you the Walkman and the PlayStation. And the Sony eReader.  What is going to become of our poor dear Sony eReader?

Though it never remotely competed with Amazon’s Kindle and has been surpassed in popularity by the B&N Nook, Apple’s iPad and even Kobo’s eReader, it has held steadfast for the six years since its introduction and remains a viable electronic reading device.

The company has a new chief who is giving 10,000 employees pink slips and implementing other cost-cutting measures which have emboldened him to predict ¥8.5 trillion in sales in the next two years, according to Reuters.  Now that sounds pretty impressive.  Surely there will be a few yen of profit to sustain Sony’s eReader.

We hope so.  We’re fond of it, and we need someone to compete with the big boys.

Richard Curtis

This blog post was originally published by Digital Book World as Sony on the Ropes. Will eReader Survive?

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Wired Rates E-Readers. Readers Berate Wired

Wired recently rated the leading eInk e-book readers and set off a storm of snarky comments that may be more enlightening, and are certainly more entertaining, than Wired‘s analysis itself.  But more of that in a minute.

The analysts were in agreement about how far e-readers have come since the first generation (or second, for the Rocket Book predates the Kindle by almost a decade). “Entry-level e-readers have become better, faster, and more stylish,’ they note. “Considering their low cost, featherweight portability (6 to 7 ounces), battery life (up to a month per charge), and superior readability, it’s easy to justify having an e-reader and a tablet. Also, the lack of distractions on a dedicated reader is nice.”

Weighing the comparative merits of the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch, Sony PRS-T1 and Kobo Touch, the team reviewed such features as the gadget’s price and depth of its bookstore. They also seized on the flicker factor.”Some e-readers flicker more between pages than others,” they write. “If you think a flicker is slightly annoying in the store, it will drive you absolutely nuts by page 200 of that Murakami novel.”

They rated the reading devices on a scale of 1 to 10:

1.  A complete failure in every way
2.  Barely functional; don’t buy it
3.  Serious flaws; proceed with caution
4.  Downsides outweigh upsides
5.  Recommended with reservations
6.  A solid product with some issues
7.  Very good, but not quite great
8.  Excellent, with room to kvetch
9.  Nearly flawless; buy it now
10. Metaphysical product perfection

We won’t keep you in suspense, but the top-rated e-reader turns out to be…the Kobo Touch, with a rating of 8 (Excellent, with room to kvetch): “Our surprise winner is the most natural e-ink reader we’ve ever used. Its touchscreen is the fastest and most responsive, yet it’s also smart enough to ignore unwanted inputs (a common failing in this class of devices). The shopping experience isn’t as personalized or directed as Amazon’s or Barnes & Noble’s, but the store’s pricing and selection are catching up.”  The kvetch? “No hardware buttons for page turns. Limited selection of periodicals. No Twitter integration.”

Alas, the Sony Reader merited only a 4: “Poky, cumbersome user interface. Disappointing store options. Expensive for what you get.”  For all reviews click here. But when you’re through, keep going.  The responses from readers started at vitriolic (“Is it too much to ask for basic relevance?”, “Brevity is no excuse for a level of incompetence on display here,” and “I already was pretty sure that you were a brainless blatherer when you name dropped Murakami. Then you confirmed it with ‘No Twitter integration'”) and descended to:

“Welcome to Wired…You are surprised by this ‘journalism’? You must not come here often. They have a bunch of kid contributors who are probably getting paid no better than the kids across the Pacific. Either the editors are non-existent, or they simply don’t care. It really seems sometimes these kids can write anything they want to and it just gets published.”

Richard Curtis
Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.

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Will Sony Stay the E-Book Course?

Sony, one of the earliest companies to recognize the future of e-books, has been a retail partner of E-Reads for many years and a solid contributor to the royalty stream of our authors. We hope they will continue to be, but we’re concerned about speculation by Martyn Daniels on the Bookseller Association’s blogsite that the corporation may be getting out of the e-book game. The most visible reason is the $2 billion loss the firm took in the last quarter of 2011 for all of its operations and a projected loss for the year of $2.8 billion.

“Sony once aimed its sights at being a big player in digital publishing,” writes Daniels. “It created its own ebook format,…was an early backer of the ePub format and of course introduced several eInk ereaders. It even entered into one of those ‘exclusive trade deals’ with UK retailer Waterstones. However it failed to deliver the list, did not develop a plausible platform and lost the eInk world to Kindle. Some five years on and how times have changed. Sony were around at the beginning of the digital reading chapter, but this may be one ebook that will remain unfinished and is in danger of slipping from the front list and going out of digital print.”

Daniels’ conclusion? “Its hard to see Sony making a comeback into digital publishing and its offer would require some serious investment and change of fortunes at a time when the business obviously requires to focus on its core operations.”

But Sony has replaced its CEO and we hope the new commander will set the ship on a profitable course once again, including the company’s e-book program.

Are Sony’s Days in E-Books Numbered?

Richard Curtis

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Who Wins the War of the Reading Devices?

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and the proof of the e-book reader is in the reading.  Nick Bilton of the New York Times sampled numerous readers including that tried and true gadget called the paperback, and in  Deciding on a Book, and How to Read It presents his conclusions.

Reading one chapter on each device, he reached the following conclusions:

Kindle: “A joy in many respects…It is a dedicated e-reader, so you can’t hop off to the Web to look up facts…Kindle software works on almost every device with a screen and an Internet connection… [The keyboard] seems like a waste of space.”

Mobile phones: “Simple and satisfactory.”

Apple apps: “Big downside for many is that you can read them only on Apple devices…iBooks looks beautiful, with a design that feels more like a traditional book, with sepia-toned paper and stylistic typography, again, it is available only on Apple devices.”

Google eBookstore “Wasn’t quite as satisfactory as I’d had with the Kindle…its design felt a little too rigid and even clunky.”

iPad 1: “Too heavy and feels more like a dumbbell than an e-reader.”

iPad 2: “Lighter and feels snug in your hands… Both iPads offer an immersive reading experience. I found myself jumping back and forth between my book and the Web, looking up old facts and pictures… I also found myself being sucked into the wormhole of the Internet and a few games of Angry Birds rather than reading my book.” [Make up your mind, Bilton. Is iPad immersive or distractive?]

Barnes & Noble Color Nook: “Unlike Amazon’s device it allows you to surf the Web. It is a little slow, though, and that sometimes frustrated me…Like the Kindle software, the Barnes & Noble reading application is downloadable to several devices. It also offers some neat features that separates it from its competitors.”

Print paperback: “It took barely a paragraph for me to feel frustrated. I kept looking up things on my iPhone, and forgetting to earmark my page.” Obviously Bilton wasn’t familiar with the Floppatronic Fleeber, reviewed in these pages a while ago, but it’s my personal favorite way to read.

Notable in its omission from Bilton’s article is the Sony eReader, which may in itself be a statement of where that device stands – or falls – in the pantheon of choices.

Richard Curtis

 

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Who Cares if You Can’t Tell a Book by Its Cover?

Cover design by Nathan Fernald

As books pass from the Tangible to the Digital Age the value of cover design is being called into question.  At least by Ben East, blogging on TheNational.ae in an article called Cover story.

Riffing on the cliche “You can’t tell a book by its cover,” East wonders whether cover design means anything any more. His conclusion? “The future of good book design looks decidedly bleak.”

East likens the state of book jackets to record albums. “Not long ago, a good looking album cover was a vital part of the image of a band and its fans; unsubtly leaving beautiful, sought-after records around your living room was like a window into your cooler-than-thou world. Now, such designs are hidden away in hard drives.”

Cover design by Nathan Fernald

If you no longer display your books in your library or living room, or even on a bus or park bench (see Can You Tell a Book Reader From its Cover?), is there any point for publishers to labor over designing striking covers? It’s tempting to say no, especially because all e-book covers show in black, white and grayscale on the E Ink screens of Kindle, Sony, Nook and their lesser kin.

But remember that that was the first generation of e-book reading devices. The next one, led by Apple’s iPad, sports full color screens.  Your e-book’s text will still be black and white but the cover will be fully saturated color, and it will definitely make a difference when you’re deciding whether to buy that e-book. Obviously e-book covers won’t employ foil and embossing but any publisher that believe consumers don’t choose e-books by what’s displayed on the screen is probably losing business.

Cover design by Andy Ross

E-Reads’ designers put a lot of creative thought into producing selling covers.  Embedded in this posting are a few recent ones. We’re revisiting our early covers and plan to replace them in due time.

So – who cares if you can’t tell a book by its cover?

We do.

By the way, did you figure out where .ae is?  Uh-uh – no fair googling!*

Richard Curtis

* .ae is The Arab Emirates

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Everything Else Going Digital, Why Not Bestseller List?

While the digital revolution has redefined such terms as “book”, “author”, and “publisher”, the bestseller list has remained more or less immutable. It’s still pretty much the Sunday New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and a few other well respected gatekeepers like the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

There are countless imitators and emulators but until last year they were all based on the same fundamental principle, the velocity with which print books flow through checkout counters. They offer a snapshot of what the public is reading. But – given the growing popularity of e-books, are the old BS lists beginning to sound like…well, BS?

The e-book camel got its nose under the bestseller tent last July when USA Today announced it would include Kindle sales in its metrics. This week the newspaper added the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony’s Reader™. According to the paper’s press release, USA Today‘s “list ranks titles regardless of genre or format, providing one of the best assessments of which books are most popular among readers and consumers each week.” USA Today boasts a daily print circulation of almost 2 million. It’s website, usatoday.com, claims to reach over 6 million daily.

How much will the addition of e-books impact on the bestseller lists of t0morrow? It will be interesting to find out. With Google, Amazon, Sony and B&N claiming e-warehouses of between 500,000 and 1 million books, the influx of titles into the list may skew the rankings like an elephant sitting on a see-saw.

Here’s the press release: USA TODAY’S Best-Selling Books List Continues to Add Digital Sales Information

Richard Curtis

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Apres Kindle Le Deluge. A Guide for the Perplexed

Scorecard here! Can’t tell yer e-book readers without a scorecard!

That seems to be the consensus of bloggers covering the recent Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. Inspired by the success of the Kindle, Sony eReader, and Nook, a host of would-be Kindle-killers and Nookslayers has flooded the marketplace with lookalikes, playalikes and costalikes. Consumers who’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a second generation of e-readers are now shaking their heads in confusion. Huffington Post has produced a handy-dandy guide for the perplexed with photos and thumbnail descriptions of each device. Just click here, then go the red navigation bar and click “Next” to view a complete array of current e-book reader choices. It may answer your questions. Or it may leave you as mixed up as ever.

So…with so many gadgets to choose among and factors to compare, is there a simple single decisive criterion to guide us home? In fact there is: Content. All things being more or less equal, you can’t go too wrong selecting a reader with a rich library or store of books, magazines, newspapers and other publications.

A case in point is a device displayed at the Consumer Electronic Show called the Skiff Reader. Dan Nosowitz, Gizmodo’s reviewer, gave it high marks for beauty, slimness, weight, screen size and functionality: “I just got a chance to play with the big-screened, touchscreened Skiff Reader, which is targeted at periodicals. It’s incredibly thin, incredibly light, and they’ve even got a color screen prototype—Kindle and Nook should be scared.”

They should be scared but they won’t be for one simple reason: Skiff does not have a store or library of content behind it. “Kindle and Nook waltzed into this world with massive and well-known stores behind them,” says Gizmodo, “and the Skiff is creating one from scratch. They’ve got a lot of publishers behind them, but the store right now is pretty bare. Of course, since it’s not out yet, this may all be a moot point—but I wonder if their scrappy little store can compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wilson Rothman, blogging for Gawker, states the case for content even more bluntly in a posting titled There Are Officially Too Many E-Book Readers. A lot of consumers, he writes, “will buy some $100 reader, then wonder why they can’t borrow books from their friend who has a Nook, or can’t get the same stuff that’s sold on the Kindle.”

Rothman also raises a very important point: if the new breed of cheap e-book readers doesn’t carry legitimate content, customers might turn to file-sharing pirates for it. “Cheap e-ink readers will essentially be targeted at people with libraries of pirated books,” he says.

What’s a consumer to do? Rothman seems to be urging us to wait a little longer until full color, multitouch tablets reach the marketplace. “E-ink is an interim technology, a stopgap measure to keep our attention till we have full-color video tablets (slates?) whose batteries last for ‘days’.”

Rothman’s bottom line? “Go Kindle, wait for a cheap-as-hell reader, pray for a slate, or buy a book. A real paper-and-ink book.

Richard Curtis

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Which E-Book Reader to Buy? NY Times Guides Holiday Shoppers

 

New York Times reporter Danielle Belopotosky has done us a big favor by lining up all the prominent e-book readers and comparing and contrasting them. If you’re shopping for one as a gift – and e-readers are shaping up to be the runaway favorite gift for the holiday season – then Belopotosky’s article is a must. And though, unsurprisingly, the Kindle still dominates the pack, her article makes it clear that “it’s no longer just Amazon’s story.” In fact, she seems to favor Barnes & Noble’s Nook, calling it “The e-reader of the moment.”
Listed are:

AMAZON’S KINDLE, $259

NOOK FROM BARNES & NOBLE, $259
SONY READER TOUCH PRS-600, $300, AND DAILY READER, $400
QUE, FROM PLASTIC LOGIC (NO PRICE: DEBUTS JANUARY 7)
IREX DR800SG,
$399
COOL-ER, FROM INTEREAD, $249
DISNEY DIGITAL BOOKS, $8.95 A MONTH

E-Reads has covered almost all of these devices, so go to our home page and enter the name of the e-book reader in the search box. And you must certainly check out Belopotosky’s Something to Read in the New York Times.

Richard Curtis


Every Blogger owes a debt of gratitude to newspapers and magazines. This posting relies on original research and reporting performed by The New York Times.

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And the Name of BN.Com’s E-Book Reader Is…(the Envelope Please)

THE NOOK!

As in Book Nook.

As rumored, the E-Ink text is gray and white like the Kindle’s, but there is a color feature for the display of cover and other images. The $259 price matches the current price for the Kindle. The Nook will carry over 1 million titles, about half of which are currently not available on the Kindle.

The device does not appear to be manufactured by Plastic Logic as speculated on a number of blogs. So we still await the disclosure of the name of Plastic Logic’s reader scheduled for release in 2010. “The Nook” is taken, so Plastic Logic will have to dig deep into its pool of titles to come up with something more ingenious. Until it’s official, we’re calling it The Teasle.

A significant difference between Nook and Kindle is the Nook’s e-book-lending feature, details of which will be described in future postings.

Though the name and features of the device were not to be disclosed until later today at a press conference, the New York Times used a clever ploy to scoop most other journalists: it peeked at at an advertisement BN.Com will be running in the newspaper’s book review section next Sunday. The Times‘s own ombudsman Clark Hoyt, who writes a weekly column commenting on the ethical (or otherwise) conduct of its writers and executives, might have a few things to say about a newspaper that uses its own advertising department as a source of breaking news. Whether the name and nature of BN.Com’s device was embargoed until Sunday is not known. Still, there are some tricky ethical issues at play here.

Any comment, Mr. Hoyt?

Richard Curtis

Every Blogger owes a debt of gratitude to newspapers and magazines. This posting relies on original research and reporting – AND ADVERTISING! – performed by the New York Times.

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Justin Timberlake Promotes Sony EReader on Primetime TV

Perhaps tired of playing second fiddle to Kindle, Sony is promoting its e-book reading device on prime time television with a really slick commercial featuring music star Justin Timberlake, Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning, America’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker, author/comedienne Amy Sedaris and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. The players will team up on more commercials, according to Brandweek.

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