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Old 10-12-2006, 10:17 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Sony Reader for geeks but not for the masses says NYT

New York Times technology columnist Davie Pogue has a quick write-up on the status quo of reading e-books in which he also discusses the highlights of the Sony Reader. His verdict:

Quote:
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 don’t break when dropped. You know: p-books.
Meanwhile, Walter Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal has a mixed verdict 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
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Old 10-12-2006, 10:48 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 10-12-2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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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?
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Old 10-12-2006, 01:54 PM   #4
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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...

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Old 10-12-2006, 02:35 PM   #5
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Well the good thing is, the masses turn more and more into geeks as well (iPod, digicams, smartphones...).
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Old 10-12-2006, 07:51 PM   #6
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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."
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Old 10-12-2006, 08:10 PM   #7
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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."
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Old 10-12-2006, 08:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg G
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.
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Old 10-12-2006, 10:08 PM   #9
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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!
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Old 10-12-2006, 11:42 PM   #10
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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).
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Old 10-13-2006, 12:36 AM   #11
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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.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:08 AM   #12
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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.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
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.
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...
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Old 10-13-2006, 10:02 AM   #14
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Well, this article IS in a publication that prints on PAPER......
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Old 10-13-2006, 11:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
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...
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