Sony‘s set to release some new ebook readers following on from the very-nice PRS505, and Jordan Golson at GigaOm looks at them and finds them wanting. His point is that the killer feature for ebooks is wireless. and makes some snarky comments about Sony’s lack thereof.
Jordan also seems to be under the impression that Sony is somehow “proprietary” compared.
“The new devices, of course, don’t connect to either of the high-profile e-book stores, Amazon’s Kindle store nor Barnes & Noble’s newly launched entry, but instead uses Sony’s proprietary e-book store, which has more than 1 million titles (mostly public domain titles from Google’s Books project) — but, because your device has to be connected to your computer to buy books, it’s not the great leap forward we’ve been hoping for.”
How is Sony’s store more “proprietary” than Amazon’s? AZW, used by Amazon, is a closed, proprietary format used by a single vendor. With Sony, you have a choice of formats even if you buy DRM’d books (ePub, BBeB and Secure PDF), some of which (ePub) are open standards. Or, you can choose to avoid DRM and use a completely open standard like ePub.
With Sony, I have a choice of stores. I can buy from Sony (of course), BooksOnBoard, Waterstones (in the UK), and others. I can shop around for the best price. With the Kindle, I can buy from… erm… Amazon. Or Amazon. And it has to be Amazon.com – no other International stores allowed (yet).
(Of course, at the moment, Amazon is selling ebooks at very good prices – in fact, some reckon, at a loss. But does anyone seriously think that will last if/when Kindle is established as the de facto ebook platform?)
So is Sony a lame alternative? No – it’s a better alternative. It supports more formats, and gives me the choice of more stores. The only advantage the Kindle has is convenience, and if you’re outside of wireless range that evaporates into nothing. What’s more, because my ebook reader doesn’t have a constant connection to the net, there’s no opportunity for Sony to pull the plug on books remotely, either.
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