Decision - eBook Reader Digital Things

Sammy G's picture

The time has come when we all must accept that it's not worth it to sit on the sidelines anymore, and enter the fray of digital ebook readers and join the future of literary passage.

The choice: Amazon's Kindle vs. Sony Reader Digital Book.

Let's start out by commenting on the names of the product. They are the dumbest names ever. I think if you want a breakthrough product the people in charge should have done something better with the titling. I'm on a plane yesterday and the guy across the aisle has got the Sony reader and I interrupt what is no doubt the slow process of his eyeballs becoming slowly corroded by the tiny radioactive lights emitting from the gadget because it's still relatively early mass technology and these things haven't been fully vetted by consumer safety engineers, not unlike my cell phone which is likely causing testicular cancer from bouncing in my pocket all day long, and I ask him, "Hey, do you like that Sony reader thing with the digital thing face on it?"

Actually, I was a lot slicker than that. I was reading a firm, physical version of the New York Times on paper and the full back page ad just happened to be the announcement of Sony releasing 500,000 free domain books through Google on their specialized reader app. What I did was slide that ad across the aisle as the conversation starter. The guy sees it and goes, "Yeah." Then he returned to reading. So I had to prompt further to get some answers.

The biggest takeaway I got was that the Sony Reader Digital eBook NextGen Thingy is more plug-and-play because it doesn't require a subscription and transfer release. Apparently, the battery only pumps on page turn so it can last 3 weeks+ on a full charge. Also, it can hold a lot more info than the Kindle. Meanwhile, the Kindle requires a subscription and you have to email the book to your service so that Amazon can forward it back to you? However, the Kindle has newspaper and magazines, which is cool.

Thoughts? Experiences with either? They ain't cheap.


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matthew's picture


iPhone or iPod Touch with Kindle reader for the win. Ultraportable, much smaller than the Kindle, readable, good battery life, wifi, broadband, flexible, keep your schedules, color display, and best of all cheaper than a Kindle. What's not to like?

That said, the Kindle doesn't reqiure a subscription at all unless you're paying for a magazine or newspaper subscription. You pay for the books you buy, that's all. Both the Sony Reader and the Kindle are based on open source, both are easily hacked, and both can read both free and non-free content. The Reader is a bit more full-featured and a bit less crippled out-of-the-gate, but the Kindle is cheaper and seeing much more widespread usage.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

Sammy G's picture

From A Friend in the Biz

Interesting feedback from a friend in the magazine biz...thought I would post here for posterity...

I am not a fan of any of these readers. And we’ve been watching how these devices develop because there is considerable reason to believe that magazine and periodicals will be delivered by subscription on one-off purchase in the future and these mobile electronic devices present potential new revenue streams for publishers at reduced material costs.

Other readers you might want to check out are the iRex iLiad eReader (2nd edition) as it is the most impressive engineered device with a larger higher resolution screen, Wifi, LAN and USB or the BeBook (no commercial releases yet):

All three of these readers, Sony, Amazon, and eSlick have severe tech, market, and design limitations and radically impair their usefulness to the consumer but also the publishing industry First and foremost, black and white screen is a deal breaker. In order for all these devices to be taken seriously they will need to have color screens. Second, Song and Kindle are still basically closed systems that require you buy their content at relatively high prices from one source. Now, these companies are quickly realizing they cannot grow the market with such restriction so they are making attempts and building partnerships (Sony with Google for instance) to distribute public domain titles, Project Guttenberg. and creative commons books but this is a small gesture in the larger universe of publishing and distribution.

The Amazon Kindle2 which I have been reluctantly highly critical of because it is the product child of a friend XXX XXXXX at Amazon is basically a closed system whereby the Kindle must talk to Amazon to buy books and populate itself via wifi. The cost of recovery of your hardware investment is ridiculous – 72 NYT’s best sellers in one year before you recoup your hardware investment. The design of the Kindle wastes space with a silly QWERTY keyboard (are you going to type your next novel on it?) and a restricted real estate screen and odd repetitive buttons that could be much better accomplished with touch screen technology.

eSlick reader is kind of the Atari of the group and most likely to end up in the bottom of a junk drawer somewhere. Its most severe tech limitation is that it has no wifi. But it is very aggressive on price and if a person is going to jump into the market only to have it be completely redefined in the next 8 to 16 months, why not save cash and buy the cheap albeit tech impaired product and then be prepared for the devices to change radically and soon.

Basically, the publishing world is waiting for the major players to jump into the market with a serious reader minus all the flaws of the current technology and a better subscription, sales & distribution system. As the CEO of my company says, “When will Steve Jobs come in and redefine the market?” and then everybody else will follow. Some people think that market defining device is coming in June 2009.

Personally, I am going to wait and use an application on my iPhone called Wattpad but the word on the street is change is gonna come soon!

matthew's picture


Prior to getting my iPhone, the iliad was my top choice, actually. Extremely feature-full compared to the competition, and open-source.

As far as market penetration and widespread acceptance, though, the Kindle wins hands-down, outselling everything else in the marketplace hundreds to one.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

I want electronic paper like

I want electronic paper like in Diamond Age. Something I can fold up and take with me and write on digitally and use as my computer. Oh and also read books.

But I'm not so sure I'll hold out till then.

Any further thoughts on which you'll get?

Sammy G's picture

Waiting For The Market To Grow Up

Jen, I'm waiting for the market to grow up. People think it's about the technology but I believe this time it's about the content. Until there's something that makes content accessible it's all people fighting for channel and it's not a mass market solution. That and the Kindle2 is hard to use and not in color.

Content-wise, I've always

Content-wise, I've always enjoyed ... but again, I already get that for free, so not only would an e-book reader need to be able to use those text formats... it would also have to be hella-cheap to lure me away from my browser.