Friday, September 29, 2006

Sony to launch web bookstore, e-book device
27 September 2006

Sony said today it will launch an electronic book store on the internet and start selling a device that displays e-books purchased from the store on October 1, after missing an earlier unveiling earlier this year due to technical reasons.

The Sony Connect book store will carry about 10,000 books from the top six publishers, including HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.

The launch of the store coincides with the official debut of its highly anticipated electronics book reader, which reviewers have said mimic the quality of regular paper.

The Sony Reader Portable Reader system will sell for about $US350 ($NZ533). For a limited period, new Connect customers will receive a $US50 ($NZ76) credit to buy books from the service.

Electronic books cost on average about 25 percent less than the cover price of physical books, a spokesman said.

Sony's latest generation reader, announced in North America at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, garnered attention for the electronic ink technology it employs made by E Ink of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It uses new technology that allows digital text and graphics to be displayed without power-hungry back-lit screens.

Much like regular paper, the Sony Reader screen is not back-lit and requires a light source in the room to view the page.

The sales of the device and launch of the book store was delayed to work out kinks in the integration of the device, service and computer software required to connect the two, Sony vice president of marketing Ron Hawkins said in an interview.

"There's a lot of moving parts to make it work well," Hawkins said. "In the spring, we decided we needed to take more time."

The device and service will also let users download from the Really Simple Syndication or RSS Feeds of popular blogs, including Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, engadget and Gizmodo to read on the device. But it will only downloads from approved feeds, restricting users from freely downloading from any RSS feed.

"We'll be expanding and improving it beyond that," he added.

Newspapers and other periodicals will not be offered at first, although Hawkins did not rule out such features down the line.

"We're taking a serious look at it," he said. "But we're focusing on books and personal content at launch."

Sony to launch web bookstore, e-book device - New Zealand's source for technology news on

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