Sony unveils 3G e-book reader, brings e-books to libraries

Sony on Tuesday announced the Reader Daily Edition, a new entry into its line of Reader e-book reading devices. The Reader Daily Edition will be released in December for $399. The company also announced enhancements to the "ecosystem" for its Reader devices to help expand the reach of e-books that will work with Sony Reader devices.

Sony Readers
The Reader Daily Edition is the third e-book reader introduced by Sony in recent weeks. It's also the largest, featuring a seven-inch wide touch screen display designed to let users read books, newspapers, and magazines in portrait or landscape orientation. (Sony's $199 and $299 Pocket and Touch Edition Readers feature five and six-inch screens, respectively.) The e-ink "Vizplex" display is greyscale—it can display 16 levels of greyscale—and the Reader Daily Edition comes in an aluminum chassis with integrated cover.

The Reader Daily Edition is Sony's first Reader product to sport wireless networking capability—a feature standard on Amazon's Kindle device, which competes against the Reader line. The networking service is provided by AT&T's 3G mobile broadband network, and it lets users browse, purchase and download books and periodicals through Sony's "eBook Store" without incurring any monthly access fees or transaction charges. Like Sony's other Readers, the Daily Edition also works with USB 2.0. Sony says the internal memory can hold up to 1,000 standard e-books, with memory expansion slots available for additional capacity.

Like the Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch Edition introduced several weeks ago and shipping this week, the new Daily Edition comes bundled with Sony's eBook Library software 3.0, which is newly Mac-compatible.

Expanding content availability

Sony recently announced that it was switching the content in its eBook Store from a proprietary format to the ePub standard—a move to counter Amazon's "lock-in" of e-book content sold through its store, which only works on its Kindle devices (or Kindle software on the iPhone and iPod touch).

On Tuesday Sony also announced the launch of Library Finder, a new feature of the eBook Store developed in cooperation with OverDrive, which helps users locate e-book content at their local library. Public libraries working in cooperation with OverDrive can offer e-books to be checked out onto a Sony Reader using a valid library card; the library sets the duration of the loan. When the checkout period expires, the book simply expires as well, so users aren't dinged late fees.

Sony also noted that other organizations are jumping on board the ePub standard. The company counts more than 200 independent bookstores affiliated with the American Booksellers Association as being able to sell e-book content beginning this fall. BooksOnBoard, NetGalley and Powell's Books also offer ePub content.

Sony's Web site hadn't been updated with information on the new Reader Daily Edition as Macworld posted this article.

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