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Sony's new e-reader to go off-leash

Daily EditionKindleSony e-reader

Sonyereaders_newaug09

Today Sony unveiled a new e-reader that will do something Sony's earlier readers cant: go wireless. The Daily Edition, above right, has a 7-inch screen, can hold up to 1,000 books and can be read either vertically or tipped horizontally to mimic the two pages of an open book. The Daily Edition will be available in December for holiday shoppers for about $399.

The Daily Edition will use AT&T's 3G mobile broadband technology (just like the iPhone) which it can use for downloading new books. Amazon's Kindle, which has made tremendous headway in the marketplace, is already wireless.

How do the Kindle and Sony e-readers match up? Pricewise, the cheapest is Sony's pocket edition -- announced earlier this month -- selling for $199. That's less than the slightly larger 6-inch editions -- Amazon's Kindle 2.0 and Sony's e-reader -- which both go for $299. And the upcoming Sony Daily edition is $399, not quite as much -- or as large -- as the $489 Kindle DX.

Interestingly, Sony has made a point of embracing the EPUB format, which can be read by a variety of readers -- whereas books bought for Kindle can only be read on a Kindle. Patrick Brown, Director of Internet Marketing for Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena explains this way. "The EPUB is one that certain people want to be the industry standard, like an MP3," he said this morning. "More or less, everybody else is moving towards an open format -- which has more vendors that can sell into it, and more devices that the end user can choose from -- while Amazon is standing by itself with its proprietary format."

Not that Brown is entirely unbiased -- he works for Vroman's, which, with Denver's Tattered Cover and other independent bookstores, will offer the EPUB ebooks for sale on their websites beginning in September. So a Sony reader owner could purchase an ebook -- say, Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" -- online from an independent bookstore, just as Kindle owners can do from Amazon.

Although Sony's reader debuted before Amazon's, in some ways it's still playing second fiddle to the online bookseller, which has been able to promote its Kindle directly to its websites' book buyers. How Sony's latest volley will play remains to be seen.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Sony

Recent and related:

Supersize! Amazon unveils Kindle DX in New York

Hello cutie! Sony's new pocket e-reader

Will an Apple Tablet rival the Kindle?

 
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