View Full Version : Sony Reader for geeks but not for the masses says NYT


Alexander Turcic
10-12-2006, 10:17 AM
New York Times technology columnist Davie Pogue has a quick write-up (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/12/technology/12pogue.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all) on the status quo of reading e-books in which he also discusses the highlights of the Sony Reader. His verdict:

Is that it, then? Is the paper book doomed? Was it only a transitional gadget, a placeholder that came between stone tablets and e-books?

Not any time soon. The Sony Reader is an impressive achievement, and an important step toward a convenient alternative to bound books. It will make certain niche groups very happy: gadget freaks, lawyers with massive document stashes, doctors and pilots who check hefty reference texts, high school students with 35-pound backpacks and anyone who likes to read by the pool for 20 weeks at a time.

The masses, however, may continue to prefer the more established portable-document format. Those older reading machines never run out of power, cost about 2 percent as much and donít break when dropped. You know: p-books.

Meanwhile, Walter Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal has a mixed verdict (http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20061012.html) on the Reader. He favors the paper-like display and seemingly endless battery life, but more work is needed to improve format compatibilities and the "poorly organized" online bookstore.

Related: Links to fresh Sony Reader reviews (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=7756)

slayda
10-12-2006, 10:48 AM
Hey, we still have stone tablets despite the advances of the pbook. Just look at the graffiti on [concrete] walls.

This is just my way of saying the, yes, pbooks are no where near dead & will not be for a long time, but I think the age of ebooks has arrived and troglodytes need to wake up to the fact.

Bob Russell
10-12-2006, 11:29 AM
I basically agree with the excerpt. It's not going to bring the end of paper books.

But the real test is whether the Sony Reader can be a viable alternative for regular people who read books, not whether or not it will be the end of paper. I.e. is it good enough that many regular readers will want one to read with? The end of paper books is an absurd measuring stick, even if it is a concept that will help sell newspapers because it's intriguing.

But no one really expects this Reader or any other to put an end to p-books in the forseeable future. Paper has too many great qualities to just disapper now.

The Sony Reader price is admittedly high, but even at that price I think there are enough advantages in the overall experience that a lot of people will want one. Even if as a novelty or travel aid. All the more when the price of the technology drops.

So it may not be the end of paper, but it has a chance to be the first legitimate alternative to a broad market of readers. And that's kind of what the start of a revolution is all about isn't it?

Liviu_5
10-12-2006, 01:54 PM
There was an interview on CNBC around 1 pm today with the NYT guy and the CNBC anchor mentioned how the ebook revolution was supposed to happen 10 years ago (he still has a ereader from then in a drawer somewhere)...

The main problem which was emphasized by both the anchor and the NYT reporter is that publishers and distributors do not want to cannibalize print sales so they are not going to sell ebooks cheap. The verdict as mentioned, Sony Reader, nice step forward, for geeks and niche markets...

The bottom line to me is that unless something forces publishers into ebooks as music/movies studios were and are forced into online content by mp3's and broadband respectively, not much is going to happen in the ebook world.

So to a large extent the Tower of Babel and drm are less of a problem than a symptom, and we better hope that Google digitizes everything and reaches a licensing deal with major publishers like they did in the YouTube case, or that cheap automatic book scanners are going to come to market...

Liviu

TadW
10-12-2006, 02:35 PM
Well the good thing is, the masses turn more and more into geeks as well (iPod, digicams, smartphones...). ;)

Greg G
10-12-2006, 07:51 PM
Has anyone had luck showing a p-book reader their reader and having them say "wow - I must have one"? My experience so far has been more of "I don't know why you would want that - I like paper."

tekchic
10-12-2006, 08:10 PM
Everyone at work drools over mine. But I do work in IT as a programmer, so maybe it's the sector.

I've had other people say the "paper is better" thing until they see the screen, and then they have to at least grudgingly admit that it's very easy to read and no glare. I think people have been burned reading on computers and automatically assume that this is the same thing, just in a portable computer version. Once I (gently) explain the E-Ink technology, they start to realize it's "wow factor."

ultim8fury
10-12-2006, 08:35 PM
Has anyone had luck showing a p-book reader their reader and having them say "wow - I must have one"? My experience so far has been more of "I don't know why you would want that - I like paper."


I showed my Mum. She was disappointed that she can't borrow books from me anymore. Even a total technophobe like her can see that it's a great idea and it's very easy to read from.

I think it has to be seen to be understood.

Bob Russell
10-12-2006, 10:08 PM
People I showed it to thought it was neat, but what's it for? But after they play with it a while, they want one, and even talk about taking one to the beach. They also pointed out that while they have an emotional attachment to paper, that the next generations coming up won't have as much of that. In my mind, it's really a price thing right now that is the hurdle. But additional responsiveness and other technology improvements will help also. It's such a big step forward.

Now if we could only get masses of people to play with it and get used to the new e-ink screen look!

ojleblanc
10-12-2006, 11:42 PM
I showed it to my graduate student today who was wowed by it. She was interested not merely to read purchased books, but to read the loads of documents we have to read in academia. The idea of being able to avoid printing everything is very attractive. It is the main reason I bought the Reader, though I am deeply disappointed in the PDF viewing experience.

The Iliad is actually beter suited to my purposes given the touchscreen, but the price is just to high for a first gen device (for me, anyway).

NatCh
10-13-2006, 12:36 AM
I sat in Barnes & Nobles' coffee shop for a couple of hours and read from mine the other day -- it's near a university so there were lots of folks around. I was shocked that not one person screwed up the gumption to ask me about it! And this is in Texas! We're friendly types down here!

Around work, folks ask me about it periodically, ineterest is mixed, except among my fellow IT folks, who love the thing pretty quickly. :beam:

Steven Lyle Jordan
10-13-2006, 09:08 AM
I have a feeling the Reader will be driven by the schools and universities, trying to give students an alternative to 50 pounds of books to lug around, and the tech and science sector doing the same for its workers. IF the textbook and reference makers cooperate, and the students, techies and scientists get hooked, they'll provide the market for the non-textbook products.

Of course, that was supposed to happen 10 years ago, too...

It does sound like Sony needs to put some serious work into the Connect Store, though.

yvanleterrible
10-13-2006, 09:24 AM
I sat in Barnes & Nobles' coffee shop for a couple of hours and read from mine the other day -- it's near a university so there were lots of folks around. I was shocked that not one person screwed up the gumption to ask me about it! And this is in Texas! We're friendly types down here!

Around work, folks ask me about it periodically, ineterest is mixed, except among my fellow IT folks, who love the thing pretty quickly. :beam:

The concept of an e-book is so alien to most folks that the reading devices are in jeopardy ! This is where we evangelists come in...

SONY!... oh SONY!... yoohoooo!.. DO YOU HEAR!...You've got volunteers here!
I'll preach for you...Have done so for a good while. And oh! I need a sample... :happy2:

CCDMan
10-13-2006, 10:02 AM
Well, this article IS in a publication that prints on PAPER......

slayda
10-13-2006, 11:16 AM
I have a feeling the Reader will be driven by the schools and universities, trying to give students an alternative to 50 pounds of books to lug around, and the tech and science sector doing the same for its workers. IF the textbook and reference makers cooperate, and the students, techies and scientists get hooked, they'll provide the market for the non-textbook products.


Steve,
You have an excellent point and Sony (as a large Corporation) should jump on this opportunity. They could get with publishers of college text books and offer a reduced price for college students. Eventually those students would spread the word through the colleges and then to the populace as a whole. That would be another evangelical branch for Sony.

SONY!... oh SONY!... yoohoooo!.. DO YOU HEAR!...You've got volunteers here!
I'll preach for you...Have done so for a good while. And oh! I need a sample...

NatCh
10-13-2006, 12:11 PM
I think it's safe to assume that Sony, at least, is interested in the textbook thing.

And the Pubs are probably drooling themselves all pruney about the prospect of gutting the used book market -- that's why they do new editions with no substantial changes every few years, you know. :(

Leaping Gnome
10-13-2006, 03:55 PM
I really disagree with Mossberg's statement of:

Another big disappointment: The Reader lacks a bunch of features that would enhance the reading experience. You can't enter notes, search inside books or documents, or look up words in a built-in dictionary. And while you can bookmark pages for later retrieval, you can't highlight passages.
How do those things enhance the reading experience? Entering notes? Searching? They don't have anything to do with actually reading a book. About the only reading-related thing he mentions is the word-definitions. From that paragraph it sounds like he wants a research tool, not a recreational reader. I guess different expectations...

anotherchance
10-13-2006, 04:07 PM
I really disagree with Mossberg's statement of:


How do those things enhance the reading experience? Entering notes? Searching? They don't have anything to do with actually reading a book. About the only reading-related thing he mentions is the word-definitions. From that paragraph it sounds like he wants a research tool, not a recreational reader. I guess different expectations...I agree. I READ books. I read in lighted conditions, open them at the beginning, read through to the end, marking my place with my trusty leather bookmark of 25 years. I don't Search, highlight, write Notes, use a booklight, or anything like that. I rarely lend books to anyone, so I don't see that as a big DRM downer either. I can't see any reason for my habits to change. A Sony Reader would be cool recreational gadget for me, if only I could afford the damn thing. :)

I've looked through the Connect store, and there's plenty of content there for me, all of it cheaper than the Pbook. That recent argument about saving money on miles of bookshelves is a good one too.

Bandito
10-13-2006, 04:44 PM
To some extent, I agree with Leaping Gnome and anotherchance that my typical reading experience is read a bit, bookmark, read a bit more, bookmark, and so on, until the book is done. This is generally how it works. I do, however, get interrupted frequently when reading or can only catch a page or two here and there, so quite often I will go back to check on something that I read previously to make sure that I remember it correctly. (As an aside, I catch a fair number of continuity errors and references to the wrong character this way!). So, for me, a search feature would be very beneficial and useful.

When reading technical documents, whether for work or for pleasure, or educational materials, the features that Walter S. Mossberg refers to in his Wall Street Journal article are what makes electronic reading a much, much better solution than paper. If you've never used a Tablet PC, you might not know what you're missing! So, to really target and provide a more useful experience to the educational market, particularly for university and college students, I think those functions would be crucial to an e-book reader's success.

Additionally, even when reading fiction, you often come across a phrase, saying, or even valuable information that would be nice to note and keep track of for future use. Being able to highlight this and have it automatically saved to a reference file with some keywords, the usual references such as title, author, copyright date, page number, etc. would be really handy. The original e-book from which it came could then be erased, but the reference file would be permanent and could be synced with your main PC for a wonderful, personalized knowledgebase. Then think about just how useful all that reading time could really become for you.

Yeah, I know, I know. But, I can dream, can't I??

doctorow
10-16-2006, 04:47 AM
Slashdot commentary on the NYC article:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/15/1713258&from=rss

TadW
10-18-2006, 04:36 AM
Gizmodo covers it (http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/sony-reader-judged-by-mc-pogue-and-mossdefberg-208201.php) too (with cool graphics of Pogue and Mossberg).

Mossberg says that the Reader is a good start, but recommends that the ebook fans (they actually exist?) wait for a better version. Pogue gives props to the older style reading mechanisms, you know, books. Ė Travis Hudson

NatCh
10-18-2006, 11:12 AM
I found the "paraphrase" of their findings particularly amusing. :laugh4:

Leaping Gnome
10-18-2006, 11:15 AM
If you mean amusing as in a "reminder why I don't read gizmodo", I agree. ;)

NatCh
10-18-2006, 11:56 AM
No, I meant that the phrase "blows goats" struck me as funny. :smile:
But then, I'm easily amused. :grin:

I can see where you might interpret it that way though, LG. :rolleyes5

TomBolini
06-17-2007, 06:20 AM
Meanwhile, Walter Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal has a mixed verdict (http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20061012.html) on the Reader. He favors the paper-like display and seemingly endless battery life, but more work is needed to improve format compatibilities and the "poorly organized" online bookstore.

Alexander, for what you know, is there any opinion from Walter Mossberg about the iLiad?
Thank you!

athlonkmf
06-17-2007, 10:04 AM
Well, of course it's only for a select market. It's a pricey investment just for the reader. And there are plenty of reasons not to buy a reader.

Some say they take their reader to the beach and stuff, but I highly doubt that the reader is sand, lemonade, dirtyfingers, etc-proof. I'm airdusting my reader once in awhile to keep it clean. I know I won't take it with me to the beach if I know that I could drop it in the sand. With a traditional book you can flap it a bit and go with it.
With such an expensive device as the reader, you will never doe that.... even if the reader is only 50 bucks, you will take care of it differently than a book.

kacir
06-17-2007, 02:57 PM
The Reader is DEFINITELY not for teh mases.

Tell me who reads more than 5 books per year.

What percentage of USA citizens have read a book during the last year?

The Reader is definitely for
- geeks
- nerds
- misfits
- people who prefer to read instead of watching television.

NatCh
06-17-2007, 03:34 PM
Some say they take their reader to the beach and stuff, but I highly doubt that the reader is sand, lemonade, dirtyfingers, etc-proof.Ah, yes, but around here we know the mystical and arcane secrets of the Zip-Lockô bag Reader-protection device. :grin:

JSWolf
06-17-2007, 05:10 PM
The Reader is DEFINITELY not for teh mases.

Tell me who reads more than 5 books per year.

What percentage of USA citizens have read a book during the last year?

The Reader is definitely for
- geeks
- nerds
- misfits
- people who prefer to read instead of watching television.
My mother reads a lot. My sister reads, my wife reads, I read. So there's 4 people who read books. I read more then my wife or sister for sure. I might even read more then my mother. But then, I enjoy reading. It's a good way to pass the time.

Alexander Turcic
06-22-2007, 01:49 PM
Alexander, for what you know, is there any opinion from Walter Mossberg about the iLiad?
Thank you!

Unfortunately I don't. Not sure if he had the chance already to play with the iLiad. It would be interesting to hear his opinion though. :rolleyes: