New Sony Readers

September 1, 2010

I started writing my previous blog post on the price of Sony Readers last week, but only published it this morning.  Andy Kemp on Twitter told me that today Sony have announced their new range of ebook readers and linked to the story on Engadget.

Sony’s tweaked its entire Reader line up — the Pocket, Touch, and Daily editions — by adding improved optical touchscreens, speeding up page turns with E Ink Pearl displays and slimming down the brushed aluminum hardware. Beyond that, it’s also updated its Daily Edition with WiFi — there’s still no connectivity options for the other two.

Engdget have reviewed all three new models with the cheapest reader now $179 which here in the UK would translate to roughly £136 so the cheap models in Waterstones are still pretty good value for money as is the new Kindle from Amazon at £109.

Listening to TWiT on the way into work this morning a lot of discussion by the panel on the pricing of the Kindle and an expectation that the price would drop again. Remember when the Kindle first came out it was $399 and now is just $139. In a year or two it might be $40 and after that free when you buy four or five books from Amazon!

It is an interesting time for ebook readers.

Advertisements

Just £99.99

September 1, 2010

When the Sony Reader first caught my attention it was over £200.

Today you can pop into Waterstones and get one for just £99!

This is quite a dramatic price drop and as a result I suspect quite a few more people will consider purchasing one of them as an impulse buy.

The more net savvy consumers are probably likely though to purchase the £109 Kindle from Amazon that does a very similar job but also comes with WiFi.

Though some people will wonder about buying a dedicated e-book reader, there are many advantages to these devices for users and learners.

One way to think about ebook readers is thinking about how mp3 music players, such as the iPod, fit into our lives.

Yes we know listening to CD or vinyl on a dedicated sound system is always going to be a preferable experience to listening to music through earbuds on an iPod.

Yes we know that we can play music on our desktop computer and it has a lot more storage than any iPod!

Yes, it is entirely possible to copy your music collection to a laptop and carry that around with you so you can listen to it any location.

Yes listening to the Now Show live is nice on the radio, even though we know we can download it as a podcast.

What the iPod brings is a combination of convenience and access that is different. The ability to play music when and where we want to is what makes it different, a dedicated stereo system is great for music, but it’s not portable. It’s not always easy to use a computer to listen to music, for example while on a bus, again the iPod makes life easier if you want to listen to music while travelling. Podcasts of radio programmes again make it easier to listen to shows such as the Now Show, the News Quiz at a time and place to suit us, which may not be when the show is broadcast.

Despite the quality and storage arguments, I suspect most people reading this blog have an mp3 player or an iPod.

eBook readers are not there to replace books, they are useful in providing a reading experience at a time and place to suit the reader. Yes paper books have their advantages and can be a wonderful reading experience, however try carrying ten or more at any one time. Being able to access your library whilst travelling, on holiday, anytime on the move is what makes the eBook Reader so compelling. With the Kindle the ability to quickly download a book when you want to read it is a real advantage over buying paper books that would either normally require a visit to the bookstore or ordering from Amazon.

Though it is possible to read e-books on a computer or a laptop (or even an iPad) the e-book reader isn’t there to replace that experience, but allow a more portable way of carrying and using e-books. I have all my music on my iMac, but I still use an iPod to listen to music. Likewise I may read e-books on my laptop, but having those books on an e-book reader is an addition to how I use e-books not a replacement. I can use my e-book reader alongside my computer so that it acts as a reference device, in the same way I currently use paper books when writing or researching on the computer.

I do believe that e-book readers have their place in how we access information and knowledge. I do think at this time we don’t know how best to use those e-book readers and as with music and video these new ways will arrive over time. At around a hundred pounds, e-book readers are going to be much more affordable and I can see many people finding one under the Christmas Tree come December. Some will ignore it, some will sell it on eBay, but many I believe will start to use it and use it a lot to read books.


Kindle gets sounds and vision…

June 28, 2010

Amazon have announced that certain Kindle titles will now have embedded video and audio.

However to enjoy these new “multimedia ebooks” you will need to view them on the iPhone, iPod touch or the iPad using the Kindle iOS4 App.

Amazon.com today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves’ London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.

Though Together We Cannot Fail is not actually available to buy for customers from the UK!

Probably not obvious to most, these titles with embedded audio and video, though can be read on the Kindle device, will not play the audio and video.

This does beg the question, does Amazon believe that the future of Kindle titles is on the iOS4 platform, on the iPad and the iPhone? Or will we see a more enhanced Kindle in the future that can play the embedded audio and video in these new titles?

Amazon have recently reduced the price of the Kindle, this may be an indication of either of those two points of view.

We will have to wait and see.


“I don’t like the Kindle”

May 27, 2010

It would appear that students at the University of Washington don’t like using the Kindle compared to use printed books.

In a report in The Seattle Times outlines how some students felt about the Kindle.

Wary of lugging a backpack full of textbooks on the University of Washington campus, Franzi Roesner couldn’t wait to get her hands on a new, lightweight e-reader from Amazon.com.

Soon after receiving a Kindle DX, however, something unexpected happened. Roesner began to miss thumbing through the pages of a printed textbook for the answer to a homework question.

She felt relieved several months later when required reading for one of her classes was unavailable on the Kindle, freeing her to use a regular textbook.

There were some interesting results and comments from the pilot. 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom study aid for example. However 90% liked it for reading for pleasure.

The implication is that the Kindle did not work in the classroom, however as a device to read books it works fine.

The reason as outlined by Roesner is that:

“You don’t read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel.”

This is a lesson that educational publishers need to recognise when publishing content to platforms like the Kindle and the iPad. Though novels are linear and as a result eBook formats can “work” like a printed book, educational books are used differently and as a result eBook versions need to work differently. Students need to be able to move around quickly, annotate and bookmark.

The experiences at the University of Washington show that the issue wasn’t really with the Kindle, but was much more about the format of educational text books in the ebook format.


Google to have an e-book store

May 5, 2010

BBC News reports on Google Editions

Google is set to launch its own online e-book store in 2010.

Google Editions books will not be tied to a specific device, unlike rival e-book company Amazon.

The Amazon Kindle is linked to books from the company’s own store and similarly with Apple’s iBookstore.

The article takes account of the scanning done by Google

To date Google has scanned over 12 million books, both in-print and out-of-print, giving it a greater selection of material than either Apple or Amazon.

This action by Google reinforces my opinion about the growth of e-books and e-book readers that I outlined in this blog post.


A BIG e-Book Reader

January 14, 2010

We often don’t get gadgets here in the UK that they have in the US, for example anyone want a Zune? Well even if you did, not available officially in the UK.

I remarked very early on when Amazon released the Kindle back in January 2008 that

Of course they aren’t available in the UK at all, I wonder if we will ever see a UK version of the Kindle?

Well the Kindle eventually made it to the UK in October 2009, however without the full on connectivity that made it an attractive device and one that stood out from the other e-Book devices out there. Without the connectivity I couldn’t see how the device was that much different to the Sony eBook Reader which I was using for eBooks. I was also pretty sure that we would see a new tablet/slate device from Apple soon (well probably in next couple of weeks) and that sounded a much better deal.

Having said that, released this week is the Kindle DX, the BIG Kindle. This is again an eBook Reader from Amazon but with a much bigger screen, 9.7” over the 6” of the Kindle. This makes reading complex pages and PDFs much easier than other eBook Readers. This makes it a much more suitable reading device for some curriculum areas which depend on diagrams and pictures.

The other big advantage of the Kindle is the backing of Amazon, making it very easy to buy and download eBooks to the device. This is something that other companies like Apple know, make it easy to buy content and people buy content.

With my Sony eBook Reader, I need to make sure I am on the right computer and then download the eBook to that computer before syncing with the Reader and then I can read my book. With the Kindle, I can browse and download the book via the device. In the US this is pretty seamless, however in the UK it gets a little more complicated and adds an extra charge to the book (as you have to pay roaming 3G charges).

I do like eBook Readers, however I won’t be buying a Kindle DX as I am going to wait and see what Apple bring to the market before the end of the month.


“Sony plots death of Amazon Kindle”

December 18, 2009

I enjoyed this article from the The Register on e-Book Readers.

Sony – a company that has struggled to establish itself as a dominant player in the world of ebook readers – is anxious to remind you that the ebook market is still in its infancy and that the Amazon Kindle is far from winning the battle. In fact, Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division, thinks Jeff Bezos and co. have made some critical mistakes.

The e-Book Reader market is interesting to watch, as in education once a consumer product reaches a certain level of market penetration, we then start to see how we can use it to enhance and enrich teaching and learning.