Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gizmodo: New Sony Reader

Gizmodo reports that pictures of the new Sony E-Book reader have been leaked. Apparently the device is much improved, but asks the critical question: will a new and improved dumb device actually make it better?

It has always seemed to me that the promise of e-books is that the books will be more easily distributed and widely available. But so far, e-book vendors' strategies have gone contrary to this promise: First, e-books are expensive; and, second the devices themselves don't work with all computers (most don't work with Macs, for example). Each device also has insisted on using it's own proprietary software, in an apparent attempt to steer customers to stick with their platform, thus limiting the choices of consumers of e-books.

Now, with Google and Amazon getting into the market, consumers are stuck in a position of having to make arbitrary decisions between several different hardware and software platforms. And given the cost of hardware and software, the decision is essentially a lifelong one.

It's almost analogous to Border's or Barnes and Noble refusing to sell all their books in English, but arbitrarily selling them in various languages and codes.... I'm not sure the e-book is going to be ready for prime time, any time soon....