Jul 27 2008
Last week, Sony announced two new features to its ebook reader that makes it one of the more attractive options for ereading. First, it announced a book light overlay that mimics the LightWedge. I’ve always thought that eink devices were physically missing an important feature – a backlight. E-ink technology actually prevents a backlight so the only way to adequately light the unit is a front light. The Lightwedge-like booklight is a step in the right direction.
The second piece of news is that Sony adapted its software so that Sony Reader owners of the PR505 (second version) could now read Adobe PDFs and ePubs. This is really a seismic change because readers are NO LONGER TIED to shopping at the Sony Connect store. Readers can now buy books from Harlequin who provides every single one of its series books one month before their paper release date. Readers can purchase books from Fictionwise and take advantage of the micropay rebates or they can purchase books from BooksonBoard which often has the cheapest ebook prices around, even better than Amazon.
More importantly, Sony’s latest development in e technologies allows readers to take advantage of the libraries that offer digital downloads of books and audio. For those who might not be familiar, Overdrive supplies the technological capabilities for libraries all over the world to lend digital copies of books. You can check and see if a local library of yours offers downloadable materials by searching the Overdrive database. Even if you don’t have a local library, you might be able to take advantage of a non-resident program.
For example, the New York Public Library allows an adult who is not a resident of New York to access its digital library for a fee of $100 per year. To date, it has over 1500 romance books available to “borrow” digitally. For selection is a bit haphazard. For example, there are three Jo Goodman books available:
- One Forbidden Evening, available in Mobipocket and Adobe
- More Than You Wished, available in Adobe
- More Than You Know, available in Adobe
Goodman’s most recent release, If His Kiss Was Wicked, is not available, and even the titles that are available are sometimes only in the Adobe format.
The Cleveland Public Library has over 8000 books in its digital library, 2600+ of those are romance books. They do have If His Kiss Was Wicked. Any resident of Ohio is eligible for a free Cleveland Public Library card.
The District of Columbia has slightly over 1,000 romance ebooks in its digital collection. It also has a selection of books available for hold that are not yet released such as Stephanie Laurens, Edge of Desire. The District of Columbia also allows for a non-resident card application. I wasn’t able to locate that online application but it would be worth calling to find out.
Even if you don’t have an ereading device, you can take advantage of these library offerings to experiment with ereading.
Sony is showing a commitment to eReading and that it’s willing to rethink its positions in response to consumer demand. With the new booklight and the ability to read ePUBs and encrypted PDFs, Sony has pulled at least even with the Kindle, if not slightly ahead of the Kindle. Kindle’s main advantage is the buy anywhere feature that allows the Kindle to be self contained. Sony has yet to achieve that kind of mobility.
Overall, though, I like how major corporations are investing in e-reading. They must believe there is a future here for them and for us ebook readers.
On a side note, this will be the last of the ebook tech articles for two weeks. I am taking a break to enjoy Nationals this upcoming week.