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Sony Reader Taking Hold?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-have-a-whole-shelf-full-that-don't-require-batteries dept.

Sony 357

An anonymous reader writes "Sony recently launched their latest attempt at an electronic book reader. The 'Sony Reader' is small and lightweight, about the size of a paperback book, and using E-Ink technology it only requires battery power when changing the page so light on power requirements. While it isn't their first attempt at an electronic book reader, critics are already predicting the Reader's success."

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357 comments

Success??? (5, Funny)

SpookyFish (195418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434020)

But what is the DRM, and how will it rootkit me?

Re:Success??? (1)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434038)

Your first born for the fee & your left testicle for collateral.

Sony want to make sure they break your balls & break your family if you break their DRM, its cheaper then getting lawyers involved.

Re:Success??? (3, Insightful)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434058)

I believe it will read pdfs so DRM is as much of a problem as you want it to be. I've seen horror stories in general about trying to transfer ebooks between PDAs so personally I'll limit myself to store that'll let me download plain txt (which I can convert to PDF to suit my personal preference with OO) or native PDF. Alternatively I may take the semi-moral choice of simply downloading via P2P scanned versions of books I already own.

Re:Success??? (5, Funny)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434137)

But what is the DRM, and how will it rootkit me?

Ah, thanks for buying our product and it is good of you to ask that question. Since we could not find a satisfactory and adequate way of protecting our copyrights, we have now introduced DMCA 2.0(Damn, My Corneas! Arrrggh!!!)

First our qualified, expert ex-mafia representatives will drop by to gouge out your eyesballs. Rest assured that this will be a painless, troublefree process. They will knock you out with a big mallet first. The ebooks text will be all be encrypted in Navajo code(already patented by us). A special navajo talker will be provided to you to decrypt and narrate the text to you. We will ofcourse be charging you an arm and a leg(and two eyesballs) for this valuable service. You have already agreed to all this in the EULA(it was the microscopic fine print).

Have a nice day.

Thanking you, Marketing/Mgmt team

P.S. If you upgrade to our premium service we will also provide a trained free seeing eye dog(1 year supply of dog food also included)!

Re:Success??? (3, Funny)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434214)

It'll read anything you like. Unless it starts with $sys$.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434024)

What can it take hold of? It's not even out yet.

This will save my wrists! (5, Insightful)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434036)

Having recently struggled through Johnathon Strange, The Cleric Quintet and half of the Thomas Covenant saga in massive hardback editions I am seriously looking forward to a convenient lightweight way to read these tomes.

Unfortunately with most ebook sellers pricing themselves higher than equivalent paperbacks it's going to take more than this to really liven up the market. I favour SF&F so Baen ( http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com] ) are a welcome exception. They offer DRM-free downloads and subscriptions AND offer a load of books for free download.

Re:This will save my wrists! (4, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434116)

Unfortunately with most ebook sellers pricing themselves higher than equivalent paperbacks

For the majority of cases this isn't true. I buy from two stores, Ereader [slashdot.org] because I like their format and find their DRM non-intrusive nor limiting.

The other store which will appeal to slashdotters is Fictionwise. [fictionwise.com] Both stores sell books for a comparable price to Amazon. such as The Footprints of God [amazon.com] which is cheaper at Ereader. [ereader.com] Another example is Blindfold [fictionwise.com] for $8 from Fictionwise or second hand at Amazon. [amazon.com] I know which I'd prefer ;)

Having said that, you won't save much money, if anything, buying e-books (I've found Australians will actually save some money though, because our prices are dearer, even once you take exchange rate into account). I still prefer the e-books because I'm running out of room in my house for dead tree books. I'm leaving the rest of the room to comic book collections and books not available electronically (although more and more books are being made available, such as Anne McCaffrey's books). [fictionwise.com]

Having said that, inertia does appear to sometimes cause e-books to be priced dearer for a while longer then the paperbacks. An example is Robert J Sawyer's Hybrids [ereader.com] which was kept at the hardcover price for a while after the paperback was released. But it has now finally come down in price. So if you're patient, you will get good prices for your e-books.

Whats dearer? (1)

Yez70 (924200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434285)

Can an aussie please translate what the heck 'dearer' means to American? :) I think he means 'cheaper' but the context is confusing me.

Re:Whats dearer? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434297)

I meant more expensive. Odd that America doesn't have the term (I wonder if England does).

Re:Whats dearer? (3, Insightful)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434343)

Dearer means more expensive, it's used in UK English, you know, the Queen's English. Strangely enough, the French use the term too, "cher" means "dear" as in "my dear and me" (mon cheri et moi) or "too dear" (trop cher). The fact that the French use the term is probably why the Americans don't.

Re:Whats dearer? (1)

clard11 (468002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434304)

If something is dearer it's more expensive than something else, so the opposite of cheaper. It's standard UK English as well.

Re:Whats dearer? (1)

Yez70 (924200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434317)

Thanks mate! In the US the term 'dearer' isn't really used. We just say 'more expensive'. :) I did check the dictionary after posting tho, and your use is correct. I'm just a stupid American tho, whada I know?

Re:This will save my wrists! (3, Informative)

Pete (2228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434336)

For the majority of cases this isn't true. I buy from two stores, Ereader because I like their format and find their DRM non-intrusive nor limiting.

Your ereader link is broken - try ereader.com [ereader.com] :).

EReader is a pretty decent option for ebooks - mainly because the DRM isn't painful, but also because they have a not-too-pathetic range and the prices aren't too unreasonable. But the extra trick you need to keep in mind is to subscribe to their emailed newsletter (every week or so). This always includes a "10% off all purchases" code - so effectively anyone using them gets at least 10% off the listed price on any purchase. This may even be a sneaky back way around publisher "list price" demands. If so, I strongly approve. :)

The downside, for me at least, is that (last I checked) the Windows version of their reader program doesn't work under Wine. Annoying, but I do most of my reading on my Palm, and it works fine on that.

However, now I've said all that, I've found that Fictionwise [fictionwise.com] , as you mentioned, seems to offer a better range at a better price with more formats. I approve even more. Thanks for the tip.

Re:This will save my wrists! (4, Interesting)

andreyw (798182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434353)

Incorrect. DRM is _intrusive_ and limiting - even well-implemented DRM like that provided iTMS. Sure, it plays fine /now/. What happens in 10 years? I have books printed in the beginning of 1900s - and I can still prop-them-open and read, without needing some weird limiting technology to unlock the content. Same goes for tapes, CDs, LPs.

Will I be able to read the ebook or listen to the music in 10 years? Likely no - which btw is perfectly fine with the content providers, who don't think you own anything anyhow and thus are glad to "lend" as many crippled copies as you like/need.

Hence, it's real paper for me for books (or PDF/PS/DJvu) and AllOfMp3 for my music needs (can't find russian music elsewhere anyhow).

Hardbacks all the time? (2, Informative)

scotty1024 (584849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434037)

The critics need to factor in that in early sightings of the book store, Sony only seems to be stocking hardback priced ebooks. I don't know too many folks whom will only purchase hardback editions at first released hardback prices for their collections.

I just want to remind everyone, before there was the RIAA, there were book publishers. And some of them make the RIAA look like Girl Scouts.

Re:Hardbacks all the time? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434187)

I just want to remind everyone, before there was the RIAA, there were book publishers. And some of them make the RIAA look like Girl Scouts.

Some of them might, but that isn't having too much of an effect on E-book downloads (legal and otherwise). When was the last time someone was sued for downloading a book?

Obligatory (1)

schnitzi (243781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434043)

There's an obligatory joke whenever Sony is mentioned these days. Hmmm, let's see... Got it!

It comes with the rootkit pre-installed!

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434085)

except it's not a joke

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434112)

You, along with 99% of the other Slashbots that make stupid jokes along the lines of this and other abused memes, aren't funny. This [slashdot.org] , on the other hand, is. So unless you can come up with something genuinely clever, please shut the fuck up.

Re:Obligatory (1)

schnitzi (243781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434171)

I was making a joke about the fact that Slashdotters do this, which you would have realized if you had two neurons to rub together, moron.

xbox 360 or books? (1)

zyte (896988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434044)

granted books are probably more fulfilling, which do you /really/ think the public is going to choose? Personally I'm not going to pay 400bucks (+ whatever the book fee is) for a couple books I might read.

Re:xbox 360 or books? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434134)

Personally I'm not going to pay 400bucks (+ whatever the book fee is) for a couple books I might read.

Which is why you're not the target demographic. Someone more along the lines of me (although unlike me, someone who already hasn't been introduced to e-books) with my library consisting of over 100 books, and me having a list of books in the hundreds that I do want to buy, but am limited by the time I have to read all the books.

Having said that, I find their DRM and price unappealing (however competitors will come along and prices will drop). But if I had not already been introduced to e-books, I might have been suckered into buying this.

Re:xbox 360 or books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434212)

Well I have a library of 2000 (ish) books and about 600 magazines and journals. It isn't for me either.

The reader has to be low cost - certainly under £50 ($100). The books have to be low cost as well, probably about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of of the equivalent paper version. They have to be released at the same time (if not earlier) than the first edition hardback. I have to have the ability to lend books to my mates, or even to sell on the book to someone else (and buy second-hand).

Taking hold??? (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434045)

Shouldn't that be "taking root?"

sure, they will sell a few.... (2, Interesting)

rootedgimp (523254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434046)

but when it comes down to it, redundant gadgets are.... well... redundant. my (impulsive) friend spent around 400$ on this kickass mp3 player about a year ago, he ended up buying a laptop a month later and he was like 'uh, this junk mp3 player is just going to end up another of my unused gadgets', so he gave it to me.. i left it at a different friends house, and it was pawned :/.. anyway my beaten around the bush point is this..... people would rather have a laptop for this kind of thing, generally, because a laptop is multifunction.

If someone has a laptop, they are going to look at this device and say 'well.. i guess its somewhat easier to handle/hold, but I can already read a vast majority more on my wifi enabled laptop, and i wont have to pay an extra 400$ just to do something i can already do.'
and on the other hand, which is almost as bad-- if someone doesn't own a laptop, they will look at this and say 'wow, 400$ just to read e-books? i could spend the same amount, and have infinite ebooks, infinite music, and infinite free wifi, and (insert everything else here)'.


in other words, this technology simply isn't cheap enough for the common all american materalistic faddist.

Re:sure, they will sell a few.... (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434103)

I read most of my books in bed or sprawled on my recliner. Not an ideal pace for a laptop. Oh, I also own a radio.

Even if this isn't going to be the ebook reader I buy it'll only be a matter of time before someone in China starts churning out an unrestricted reader for half the price. I see this announcement more as a signal for things to come rather than for something I'm going to run out and buy right now.

Re:sure, they will sell a few.... (1, Redundant)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434131)

While your point may hold for mp3s, movies, etc. I'd have to say books are a different thing completely.

I know lots has already been said about the matter, so I'll just keep it simple.

Books are not the same as music or movies.

I'm sure you've all had the experience where you've gone into a test and you can't remember something, but you can picture the exact page & paragraph that piece of information is in.

When I read stuff on a monitor, it all tends to blur together.

Oh, and you can hold a book a lot closer to your face than a laptop.

Re:sure, they will sell a few.... (1)

mstroeck (411799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434142)

Congratulations! You just made the equivalent of CmdrTaco's very prophetic first impression evaluation of the iPod ("No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.") and will forever be ridiculed for your complete lack of insight. Have a nice day.

Re:sure, they will sell a few.... (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434234)

That observation doesn't seem out of line... he just didn't count on the hipster factor making it a fashion accessory, and the fact that people are apparently willing to pay double the price of equivalent offerings from other companies just for a color scheme and a scroll wheel. Technologically speaking, the iPod is not that great. Archos had video three years before Apple, Creative has better media support and a nicer on-screen interface...

Yes, but the UI on the early Archos/Creatives was (1)

blorg (726186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434340)

HORRIBLE. They were also very big and clunky devices. You might also note that modern Creatives ape the iPod UI about as far as they can while staying the right side of a lawsuit. They would take the scroll wheel if they could, but instead have to make do with a strip which means you have to constantly take your finger up when you run out of room. UI is quite important when you are trying to navigate through thousands of songs.

The iPod was successful because it was small, easy to use, and actually competitively priced (e.g. I didn't see any similarly priced 4gb flash players in the market when the Nano came out.)

Re:sure, they will sell a few.... (1)

Neeth (887729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434320)

Reading a book from your laptop is not fun. Recharging your laptop every 4 hours is not fun. Sure, you can have wifi, mp3 and internet at the same time, but since you are reading a book, who needs to play games at the same time?

There are a *lot* of people who have both a laptop and an MP3 player, and I can image that there will be a lot of people who also have a Sony Reader.

I believe the eInk technology is a real pro compared to your active backlit TFT screen.

Doomed to failure (5, Insightful)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434052)

Paperback books are cheap. This ebook reader can't compete with real books so long as it will be priced $300 to $400. The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away.

Re:Doomed to failure (2, Insightful)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434109)

"The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away"

even then i wouldn't really prefer these eBook readers. nothing can beat the feeling of a book that you can hold in your hands, turn pages, etc.
plus how are you supposed to use them as a conversation starter..."excuse me, you seem to be using the same eBook reader as me" yea, good luck.

Re:Doomed to failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434151)

If the eBooks are cheaper than the paperbacks then the investment pays off after some time.

Re:Doomed to failure (1)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434303)

...but sadly they are not.

Re:Doomed to failure (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434200)

The only way eBook readers could become commonplace is if they give them away.

Not true. They do have to become more reasonably priced then $400 US, but you don't have to give them away to sell them. Many people have bought PDAs mainly to read e-books. They are convenient and easy to store (I can take 100 books in the amount of space needed for 1 book). Don't underestimate that factor alone. Besides which, there is a TON of content online (I don't like reading long stuff on the computer, but on the PDA, let alone this e-book reader, I don't mind at all) that is either free or not available in print.

Re:Doomed to failure (3, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434242)

I bought a $200 PDA mainly to read ebooks.

I would not have paid anywhere near that if it could only read ebooks though. I also use it to play games and on occasion as an organizer.

This book reader would have to be much cheaper than a PDA to be viable, and even then I can't see why someone wouldn't spend the extra for a PDA.

Also, this Sony scam charges prices comparable to hardcover for the books. They should be about half to price of a paperback. Of course the DRM sony's including makes it a deal breaker for anyone who's not a total idiot.

Has no search function either! (1)

barc0001 (173002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434248)

$400 for a device that can't search an e-book? Forget it! Even my palm does that.

They'd have me if...... (5, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434054)

They'd have me if it was possible to install other readers onto it (I don't want Sony to write the programs, just make it so other people CAN write the programs and the user can install them on the reader). Alternately I'd be more tempted if their format wasn't DRM'd (yup, non-DRM e-books do exist. One store that sells quite a bit from numerous prominent authors (such as Kevin J Andserson) is Fictionwise [fictionwise.com] ).

I'm a big time e-book reader and I'm migrating to an e-book only library (for new books anyway). If Sony has success, that's great. But I'm finding it doubtful that they will, because if someone like me isn't interested, what is their demographic?

old librie is hackable... (1)

ptorrone (638660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434059)

you can get the previous sony e-ink device, on ebey or elsewhere, install an english firmware patch and make your own drm-free ebooks... HOWTO - Sony Librie English GUI Firmware Patch http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2005/06/howto _sony_libr.html [makezine.com] HOW TO make DRM-free ebooks for the Sony Librie e-ink ebook reader http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2005/08/how_t o_make_drm_1.html [makezine.com] if sony screws up this new reader, i'm sure we'll all hack these up to for the functionality needed.

According to other reports it will support pdf (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434060)

without DRM, but I'm assuming that their book store is going to impose less DRM than the one they launched in Japan. In that bookstore, you could only "buy" your book for 2 months, after that it became unreadable. That defeats the whole purpose of having an e-reader! If I'm laying down $400 for an e-reader, I want to be able to bust out "Breakfast of Champions" on a whim, not make sure that my license is up to date before doing so. One of the reasons I don't buy a lot of books right now is that I hate having to find storage places for them, plus I tend to move around a great bit and shipping books is expensive and a pain.
I think a sanely priced bookstore would be a great idea, but till then I'm sticking with the library!

From the Fine Article (3, Insightful)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434065)

It will go on sale in the spring and is expected to sell for between $300 and $400 in the US.
I take it then that all of the coke that could be purchased with that kind of cash has been already snorted at Sony Corp Headquarters. 3-400 for an e-reader??? A basic Palm is what, $99? What besides DRM does this do extra??

Sera

Re:From the Fine Article (5, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434180)

What besides DRM does this do extra??

It's the screen itself. I've seen and played with the previous reader here in Japan, and the screen really is amazing. As in "you have to see it before dissing it" amazing. It really is like reading on paper. The brighter the environment is the better it looks.

On one hand, this reader is supposedly able to show any PDF or html and connect over USB like a mass-storage device, which is good (and the lack of which is what stopped me from buying the previous model). On the other hand, Philips is soon coming out with their version of a reader with a paper-like display, and I'd frankly rather buy from just about any company other than Sony nowadays. So I'll wait until I see what the Philips reader will be like, and unless they screw up with some DRM-only boneheaded move, that's what I'll get instead.

Re:From the Fine Article (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434211)

The dimensions are bigger (a LOT of people are put off by the small screen) and I believe it's battery life is much longer.

I prefer my Palm though, but in the future I can see me trading it in for a non-Sony ebook reader.

Re:From the Fine Article (2, Interesting)

reachinmark (536719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434314)

I think a better proposal would be reading book on your mobile phone? The latest WM 2005 smartphones (HTC / QTek /etc) cost as much as the Sony reader, and have decent sized screens at a pretty good resolution for reading ordinary books on. I'm much happier now that I can cut everything down to one device - my phone can play movies (ala iPod video), MP3 (ok, no iTunes, but still..) and read books. Only one device to to keep track of, always with me and always charged.

Screen not big enough? Definately not when it comes to reading arbitrary HTML or PDF documents, but if you are reading a novel then you'd be surprised how easy it is to read when all you can see are just a few lines at a time - as soon as you get into the book a little bit you forget that you are reading on a small screen.

As everyone else is saying, the real problem here isn't the reader - it's content. Someone needs to do an iTMS for books. Better yet, as Amazon suggested, when you buy a book you should get the ebook included for free. Best of both worlds.

Many years from now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434068)

... is perhaps when I buy anything Sony, if ever.

Pricey... but Interesting (1)

adam31 (817930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434073)

Maybe it'll root your... book. Har har Lame.

Anyway, the good bits are that it lasts 7,500 pages per charge and weighs half a pound. The bad news is that it costs $300.

The bottom line is that I love the idea of not burning a forest of trees... for College textbooks this is a great idea (lessens back pains and you could easily drop $300 in a single quarter!), not to mention point-and-click TOC and index, keyword search, etc. I'll have to see the screen first-hand, but I can't believe it would be better than print. Still, is there really a market for this for the airplane-book-club crowd?

games books (1)

genckas (660936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434076)

Just like with games this technology will only pick up if the "graphics" are good and if there are enough "books" for it. The biggest difference between a book and a screen is eye strain (The BBC article says the screen is not backlit...big difference?), I wonder if Sony has tested this with hard core readers. I would use it I think. I wonder how you can mark pages (since I tend to twist the edges of book pages). Is it true that backlit screens cause less eye strain? I want one of these...

Laptops work okay (2, Interesting)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434077)

My laptop PC works fine as an ebook reader, and while reading an ebook I can listen to music or watch video and simultaneously download more content. While I would like something more compact and power-conscious, I'm happy with what I've got. But I will avoid buying anything made by SONY. I don't even go to SONY movies anymore, and I dissuade my friends and family from doing so.

Hey SONY, your 2005 DRM fiasco has cost you more than you realize.

Re:Laptops work okay (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434163)

Are you a commuter? If you are, then you would probably realize the value of having a device that is less cumbersome to use than even the smallest laptop(and the battery lasts a bit longer too). If you are not then I could understand why you wouldn't be in to this, but there are lots of situations where people don't like to use laptops, even if they aren't part of your life.

Re:Laptops work okay (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434165)

You can watch a video while reading a book?
Neat trick. =o

Open or closed? (3, Insightful)

KiwiRed (598427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434080)

I'd say any success depends on it's DRM. I mean, if it can only display ebooks in a specific proprietary filetype (remember the success of ATRAC?) then I would suggest that the chance of it catching on are pretty much nil.

The reasons ipods became so popular were that it had the best UI of the time, and it played mp3s you could convert yourself. If this device can't display open formats (or at least PDFs), then it's just another electronic white elephant.

How is this different than the Librie? (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434084)

Other than having an English user interface, is this any different than the Librie they've been selling in Japan? The BBC story mentions the Librie but only says that it didn't sell well.

It's claimed to offer a display "almost as sharp as paper", and perhaps it does, but in all the photos I've seen the contrast ratio doesn't look nearly as good as paper (even comparing to cheap paperbacks or newsprint).

Maybe the photos are just bad. Sony's own photos [sony.com] look much better, though they're probably retouched.

Finally! (5, Interesting)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434088)

It's about time. I've played with one of these 2 years ago in Tokyo and fell in love with it. If it wasn't for the price (aroud 400 US$) and the fact that it was all in Japanese (so I couln't check if it read PDF files), I would have bought one. If these baby can read PDF and HTML, it's going to be one great tool to read technical documentation during my daily train commute. No more heavy books to carry around breaking my back.

Re:Finally! (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434201)

I've never used any kind of electronic ink stuff before. Can these things handle images? Alot of the PDFs I read have pictures of some sort. Sometimes they are important to help understand the text.

Re:Finally! (1)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434305)

Yes it does. And they where working on colour too :-). Heck, it even handles embeded sound (useful for dictionnary/translation kind of books).

Re:Finally! (1)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434282)

Can you take notes on it?

I often write notes in my books with a pencile, but it can be very cumbersome to erase those notes (especially on low quality paperbacks).

It would be nice if you could scribble something and the reader would save it to a separate file, so the reader would only have to overlay the notes over the pdf. One could even exchange notes etc. to produce annotated books.

Re:Finally! (1)

Ours (596171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434318)

I can't remember for sure if it had a anotation feature. Wouldn't surprise me if it did. It was all in Japanese so maybe I missed it among all the other Kanji characters :-).

Law as a niche markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434100)

I realise it is a niche market, but i cant wait for this technology to develop. As a lawyer i would love to be able to carry around a small little device and store all my law books and acts/regs with me. Honestly i couldnt think of a better way of doing it than through a digital reader like this. The only problem is that law IS a niche market and the chances of getting digital copies of our books is slim to none. And secondly when you are reading through a 600pg book on contracts it is kinda helpful to put a postit note on important pages - i didnt notice anything from www.sony.com that suggested you could.

Not saying that i would run out and buy all my books in ebook format, i love my hardbacked books. But in the situation im describing i would prefer to carry one little digital book in place of the 400-800 page bibles we use. Eitherway im looking forward to what this technology will bring us .... now if only you could print from it : /

great gadget galore (1)

abes (82351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434105)

Great, something else to put with my $400 ipod, $200 cell phone, and $300 PDA. The question is, *when* are they going to start talking to each other? I would love to actually be able to use the HD in my ipod to hook up with other portable devices. I really only need/want *one* HD.

Does it allow mark up of text? Can you search through your books? Bookmark a page? Cross reference books? Are we going to actually get some intelligent addition to text than just a stupid conversion of paper->binary? These things are obvious. They aren't hard to implement. Why haven't they been done before? Do these big companies *really* lack so much imagination!?

Also, if it does do PDFs, which would be a major reason I'd care, how fast will they be rendered? If I have to wait 20 minutes per page, I'll take paper thank you.

Non-sony Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434115)

Identical display,
lcd touch screen for controls ( bypasses the crap 1second refresh of e-ink as a display for entering text)
0 drm.
accepts doc, txt, rtf, html, pdf in addition to its own format.
accepts standard sd memory ( not sony proprietary memsticks)
integrated mp3 player.

http://www.jinke.com.cn/Compagesql/English/embedpr o/newpro.asp [jinke.com.cn]

Re:Non-sony Alternative (1)

AussieVamp2 (636560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434196)

Selling an ebook reader that won't take a text file would seem to = really dumb, wouldn't it, Sony?

These Jinke guys have something interesting looking here though, if it is the same thing but much more useful!

Re:Non-sony Alternative (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434230)

If it were actually available, it would be great.

Or if there was some sort of price on it.

Re:Non-sony Alternative (1)

AussieVamp2 (636560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434246)

Yeah, be nice to know. If they can actually get them made, 10% cheaper than Sony sounds like a good starting point.

Sony has realised ... (2, Interesting)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434133)

Sony has realised the importance of making sure there is good content for a gadget like this.

Translation: Sony has realised that to appease the god named Shareholder, they will have to plug this device as the consumer interface to a long and lucrative supply chain, reaching back to publishers (but not to authors: there it's the same as music: either you're one of very few stars, or you do it for love, and only love).

In 2004 it launched a similar device [...] which failed to take off due to [price and] the restrictions it imposed on readers.

Ooh, the sweet smell of insight. /hey, does this one come with a rootkit, too?

Target Audience (2, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434148)

I'm still wondering who the target audience for this device is.

-More expensive than books
-Less 'enviroment friendly' than books
-More restrictive than books (a 60 day ebook DRM deadline that self deletes, versus at my leisure, 1 day through forever)

Re:Target Audience (1)

philask (216894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434166)

Assuming it could read PDF's I'd buy it... I have a library of PDF's I refer to all the time, and most of the time they're just taking up space on my screen (especially when I'm programming). So it would be great to have a reference reader I could just leave on the desk which contained a range of my frequently use material.

Re:PDF files (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434216)

The wikipedia entry says it should accept PDF files.

A general purpose reader would be more useful, than one restricted to only the BBeB format.

Project Gutenberg (1)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434153)

It has to be able to display these to be of interest to me:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org]

I do like to read contemporary works as well, (Strange and Norrell recently and Dowd's Bushworld) but I heavily favor the classics. I would not turn my nose up at proprietary formats and limited ownership times for most contemporary works since I rarely want to keep them after reading them. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is a recent exception to that general rule (have them in hard back, looking forward to reading them again soon.)

PDFs and the ability to load one's own ASCII files would be most useful and thus a tempting electronic morsel for consumption by my eager wallet.

Very nice battery life on this unit, regardless.

Re:Project Gutenberg (1)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434222)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but the Sony site:

http://products.sel.sony.com/pa/PRS/reader_feature s.html [sony.com]

Has much more info on the unit. Plays MP3s, does do other document formats including html, ASCII, shows pics, etc.

Oh dear, I'll probably have to turn apostate and get one of these. Or maybe wait until someone besides Sony makes something comparable.

Try Plucker (2, Interesting)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434159)

Plucker [plkr.org] has been growing on me and seen increased use as of late. Its very versatile, and the format is open so I shouldn't get stuck with more eBooks having only semi-obsolete (or missing) readers on my palmtop of choice.

Hackable? (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434164)

Any word on how much work they put into protecting it from running home-brew software? I'm sure there are a million uses for electronic paper but only if we're allowed to do what we want with it.

And really I don't see what the problem is. With PSP their money comes from selling software. But with this reader most of the money will probably come from the hardware.

Re:Hackable? (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434306)

Any word on how much work they put into protecting it from running home-brew software?

At a guess, I would say vastly more than they put in to actually making it a good product.

At last (3, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434173)

Reading is bed will never be the same again :o). I can't believe how long these devices have taken to be developed as I feel the potential market is huge. Perhaps the problem is simply that it is a huge shift in thinking. It's the first time that paper really will become some what redundant. I'm not saying we won't need paper but if these devices became ubiquitous and with a decent display (which I think would be needed for them to become ubiquitous) I could easily see paper useage dropping dramatically.

I, for one, look forward to the day when 1000 page books weigh as much as a paper back and I don't have to struggle with forcing open a book that has printing running to within 3mm of the spine.

In fact the only downside I can envisage is that it will put publishers out of business because it will become trivial to self publish. I realize that you could self publish in electronic format already but sticking a PDF on a website is different to producing a book.

I've already seen it on a german news site... (1)

timerider (14785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434181)

...and i SO want it.

from what i've seen, it does sony's own ebook file format (which can be made DIY, sony offers tools to convert web pages and .txt files) as well as PDF files, so i could just put all of project gutenberg and schnoogle on it (with a choice selection of big SD cards) and be happy for the rest of my life... do any of you guys realize how inconvenient it is to read ebooks on your laptop when you're somewhere where handling a laptop is rather inconvenient?

Re:I've already seen it on a german news site... (1)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434257)

Yeah, have to agree with that. Laptop is nice at home or library, but otherwise not so good. This thing could be a very good tool. Be really nice if it could be, er, hacked to have a few PDM features as well. I live and breathe with lists and notes, so it would be nice to have both in one unit.

Love paper but... (1)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434184)

As much as I love reading actual paper, I find books awkward to hold. They never seem to stay open enough so I must struggle to keep them from closing. Is there some secret trick I'm missing on breaking books in so they're comfortable? A device like this that doesn't blast light into my eyes could be a great alternative.

What it needs to have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434195)

a) iPod compatibility
This allows to leave your iPod behind.

b) PDA functionality with standard PDA OS
This allows to leave your PDA behind and allows to use alternative readers.

Why put a fake horse in front of the automobile? (4, Insightful)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434205)

These dedicated e-readers are all trying to look like a dead-tree book and are missing a big part of the point. My PDA is small enough to fit in my shirt pocket. A book, even a paperback, isn't. Neither is a paperback-sized e-reader.

It's like trying to make automobiles palatable to horse'n'cart users by putting a fake horse in front of it.

I do all my reading on a Palm (T3, if you care) and have done for years. All it took to make it worthwhile was a paper-white screen with 320x320 or better resolution.

Why do I prefer ebooks?
The 800-page book I just read weighed no more than the short story I read before that. And I could have hundreds of 800-page books in my pocket at once.
I can touch a word on the page and instantly call up a definition from a 150,000 word dictionary.
I can read in the dark, I can read while waiting in a queue, I can read while floating in a canoe (with the PDA in a waterproof bag.)
I can bookmark interesting pages, I can jot notes in an electronic 'margin', I can copy a relevant passage into an email without re-typing it.
If my house burns down, I have an off-site backup of my library.
I can search for a character's name or a phrase I want to look up.

And I don't need something that _looks_ like a book to do it!

Pictures and More Details (5, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434210)

The unit reads PDF files as well as Sony's proprietary (anyone surprised?) BBeB format (stands for Broadband Electronic Books). They will be releasing software for reading BBeB format on your computer so you can read books you've purchased on your PC as well as on the Reader, but apparently you can only "share" your copy of the book with up to six other devices. When pressed for details about how this "document DRM" actually works, the PR rep we spoke with had zero information -- we asked whether a Mac version of the BBeB-reading software would be released but no word on that either. - Engadget [engadget.com]

It looks like a junkie gadget (1)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434218)

This thing looks like a plastic hunk of technology. Like an Ipaq, or more, like one of those cheap ripoff PDA's you see at the checkout at staples.

No matter how good it is, its hard to see this thing taking off. Especially at that price!

The main thing I would do diffent is give it a nice leather binding like a fancy book. And make it *look* like a book. Finally, the border around the LCD makes it look junky and distracting.

The Specs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434228)

800 x 600, 4 level grayscale.

Displays PDF and JPEG in addition to eBook formats.

Online store looks a little familiar... but it only works in IE. And requires admin privs.

OK, so how are they doing "4 level grayscale" with e-Ink? Spatial dither?

Bothered by DRM? (0, Troll)

puneypunk (831917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434238)

irc://irc.efnet.com/ebooks can get an amazing amount of warez'd books there! :D

But what if I leave it somewhere? (2, Insightful)

WebfishUK (249858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434247)


I like the idea of e-books but they do lack some of the conveniencs of a paper back. The major one being cost. If I leave a £4.99 book on a train I am mostly just upset that I can't read it until I get another copy and then I will have to relocate my position. But if I leave £400 of e-book on a train I probably won't give a stuff about the books! Although if it carries 80 books will my insurance reimburse me for those too? Or will the ebook library let me have another download for free (this kind of thing also applies to DRM linked music too - you might the insurance to pay out for a new music player, but will your current license let you move it to your new, possibly incompatible player?)

In the UK there has been a movement to openly share good paperbacks by leaving them on trains and in other public places, perhaps with a few comments in on what you thought about the book. I think it may have been a BBC idea - sorry no weblink (bad slashdotter, dirty slashdotter, in your bed!). This is great idea and gets people exposed to books they wouldn't have normally read. Could we imagine a digital equivalent? Maybe a random download for every 5 you buy.

Re:But what if I leave it somewhere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434286)

The concept is brillant, and sony have promised an itunes esque service for books, now whether ppl are willing to go digtal for books is another thing, you can pick books so cheap on amazon marketplace for example, im a philosophy major and thats where i got all my books from, and it was damn cheap, for example you can get most plato brand new for less than £3 including shipping

of course i think the main aspect of e-reader is what we can do with the books, sony has said it will support PDF but also their properity format B...something (i forget), now it would cool say if i could copy and paste staight into a document and easily footnote it, however i suspect you wont be even able to do this to be honset, or there will be some stupid limit

one thing i kept hearing at keynotes at CES was "content," well sony has to provide good felxible content otherwise which person will by the e-reader.

What are the advantages to the consumer? (1)

el_womble (779715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434253)

As a /. reader and com sci graduate the advantages of a single, lightweight low power solution versus the tomes that I used to have to chug around are obvious... although when I needed it most, university, I could have afforded it least. Even now, I find myself turning to electronic texts for referance over paper equivalents, but I have never read a novel from either a PDA or a VDU.

From a referance point of view an electronic reader is a long time comming. With any luck it will mean the publishers can stop charging £30 for a 200 page book thats bought by maybe 200 people a year. For short run publications this could be the philosophers stone. But for novels and fun reading I'm not so sure.

There are simply too many conflicts. Although the cost of publishing will be massively reduced so will the returns. We know from DVDs and CDs that people have very little respect for DRM as it feels artificial and more than any other medium I share books. I share them at work, work shares them with me (we have a library... more on that) and I share them with friends and family. This happens on an almost daily basis, and with the exception of reference books, once read, I rarely have any use for the books except to share them with others.

And what about libraries?

Libraries are a great good for any society providing education for all ages, free at the point of service, but they are intrinsically linked to the fact that you have to give the book back. Thats what seperates them from shops. With a digital library you would never have to give the book back, and if you did it would only be because of incredibly strict DRM. So what happens?

In my view the only way it could ever work was if nations openned up their national libraries to their citizens. Each citizen is provided with 'library card' and that allows them unlimited access to all the books via a website. The nation then keeps track of books and a nominal fee is handed out to publishers and authors at set points in the year... I dunno a $1 a book. Libraries would still be funded by the government, and paid for by direct taxation, and publishers would still be encourage not to publish crap because if no one reads it then they don't get paid, but librarians and high street books stores would be out of a job and libraries up and down the country would close and be turned into pubs. There would be no file sharing because everyone could access the books for free.

I dunno, there's something a little too utopian about this for it to ever happen. What will actually happen is that public libraries will close and not be replaced, because publishers will see it as a loss in revenue. A draconian DRM will be announced that means that you can't even cut and paste between your book and Word, this will be cracked with minutes and file sharing will kill short run publishing and severely damage small publishers who can't take the hit of a succesful book getting copied around the interent, leaving us with nothing but middle of the road, religious pap that people don't copy because its so awful and then think that they'll go to hell if they do.

Or worse, authors, desperate to spread their books will release them for free on the internet, but you'll only be able to read them if you also watch flashing adverts. Nightmare.

Audiobooks? (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434254)

I've been seeing some of the bestsellers in bookstores in an audiobook format complete with the reader. Add a AA battery and it's ready to play.

The total price including the audioplayer is cheaper than Sony wants for a text file of the same book.

Formats: BBeB/PDF/JPEG/MP3 (2, Interesting)

trawg (308495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434259)

The article says it supports BBeB/PDF/JPEG/MP3. I bought an MS Reader ebook a couple years ago (just to see how it all worked) for my ipaq, so I obviously can't use that - I have to buy my book again.

I'd like to see .txt format (for extra points, let me zip them up!) available for ebooks so as I change and upgrade my handheld reader, I don't have to keep buying the books.

DRM sure is grand.

Hmm... (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434265)

Someone made a nice bit of ebook reader software for the PSP, it'd clock the CPU and bus down to 1mhz so you'd get 10 hours of battery life even with the screen turned all the way up... Too bad it was rendered useless by not being able to run homebrew anymore. Oh well... I guess something like this is worth a look. (Though, minimizing the number of devices I carry around is always important to me...)

The future? (1, Interesting)

ahg (134088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434269)

Let me do some wild speculation...

Apple will introduce an E-ink paper add on to the Ipod. A little clip-on device, that rolls/folds into a convenient to carry size. The device will need no storage of its own, and no logic, perhaps not even its own power source, just clip it on, and use the familiar iPod click wheel to navigate your documents. Of course, it will support PDF, and some other form of DRM content that works with your existing iTunes/Fairplay account with a similiar set of restrictions.

Just as Apple was certainly not the first to market with an mp3 player, they just made one that was really great to use... don't be surprised if they do the same for e-reading - should the market show there's sufficient demand for the device.

And while I'm doing some wild speculation, why don't I add....
There will then be an iPod with built-in WiFi, that will allow you to use this hi-res 1 bit display to browse the web with on-the-fly dithering of color graphics into pseudo-greyscale images. There will even be an option of sending a particular image to the color iPod display for viewing in color if it's critical... but let's face we can read /. just as well in B&W. Quick, large screen format, hi-res web browsing, on the go, that folds into a tiny package. cool!

ok... my minds getting carried way, I really should get some sleep - it's almost 4:30am where I am.

Practicality (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434276)

Paperback:

If I lose it, I've lost maybe £10.

If I get sand on it at a beach, I can brush it off.

I can use it on a plane, and no-ones going to tell me to switch it off.

I can give it to a friend

I can trade it in at a bookstore

I can read it if I don't have a power supply

I can put it in my coat pocket and not worry about crushing it.

I can use it in the kitchen and not worry that getting food on it will cause expensive damage.

No-one pinches novels.

I'm sure there's a niche for this, but the idea that they'll be doing for paperbacks what Apple did with iPods is ridiculous. You can't play music without a power source, and you often want to choose a track to suit your mood. People did this before by carrying cd players and having a bunch of CDs. The iPod made it simpler. I don't forsee wanting to read one of half a dozen novels - I finish one before I start another.

I'm sure there's a niche, though.

Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. (2, Informative)

seamus_waldron (304343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434309)

Okay, your mileage may vary BUT I have the Sony Librie and I read nearly all my books with it.

With the exception of native PDF and HTML (I think) support, the difference between the new eBook and the Librie is small.

The Librie looke better as it is in white AND it has a keyboard. It also has a headphone socket. Neither of these are used by anyone, but the device is Linux as so there is a large hacker community and tools are coming out all the time. Initially the effort was to translate all the Japanese software into English and now people are talking about making the device to other things.

There is third party software out there to make your own books and you can use pretty much any source you want. Sony already has book creating software on the market, there is already an RSS to eBook application and there is also a reader on you PC (Windows only) for your books.

For the new eBook, Sony hasn't used the latest in eInk technology but let me tell you this, whenever I show the Librie to people, their jaw drops at the quality of the display. The viewing angle is tremendous (just the same as a book)

The display is not paper white - don't let Sony make you beleive that it is - but it can be used in low light and bright light conditions, just like a book.

The Librie (and I assume this holds true for the new reader) is lighter than a book - excellent for travelling - and is powered by 4 AAA batteries. This means that no matter where you are, you can always get power.

The only addition to my Librie that I have added is a wrist strap from a mobile phone so that when I am on a train or subway, I donlt keep thinking someone is about to grap the Librie and run.

The size of display is grat for books, probably fine for HTML but is isn't good for comics. It is simply not big enough. The new reader apparently has a zoom and pan function, but that isn't exactly ideal.

The eBook is great for anyone who travels a lot, anyone in a tech related business where you need to have technical documentation that you refer to. If you are up to creating your own books, then it is a fantastic way to read all your books. Never have the trouble of finishing a book and then being at a loss until you can get home or to the book store to get your next installment.

Check out the yahoo Librie group for more information.

No SALE! (1)

kin242 (789922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434311)

Books dont have DRM. So why the hell should e-books? In any case, meet Karl's formula for hassle free shopping: ME + DRM = NO SALE

what next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14434321)

Sony is trying to do for e-books what Apple has done for downloadable digital music

wake me up when somebody starts thinking about p0rn?

Go the technical accuracy (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434356)

From TFA:
The technology used means the screen is not backlit, avoiding screen flicker, which can put a strain on the eyes.
As if one (backlighting) has anything to do with the other (flickering)...

If I can't create my own content, it's pointless (2, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14434369)


I would TOTALLY use one of these things (especially because I have seen the type of display they use, and it's really very nice). I would use it to work on my novel, read bits of text that I'm translating while on the train, take a report from work to look at on the plane -- as long as it can read plain text and HTML files it's fine. Excel, and powerpoint would be good too but I can see how there could be issues there. But text and HTML are fine.

Oh, wait.

I can use it to read particular selected books that Sony has done a deal with Random House on. And PDF files. That are on a Sony(r) brand memory stick. In other words, no attempt is made to make it useful as a general purpose display device -- the focus is a game console like business model where they make the money on licensing someone else's content to me.

Well done, Sony. Another great idea from the planet's most bloated, directionless and internally divided consumer goods megacorp. Here is a lollipop for you. Now sit in a corner and wait till a Chinese or Korean company buys you.

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