Sony Reader sells out

October 11, 2006

Following widespread hoots of derision from the publishing industry, guess what? From the Bookseller:

“Overwhelming demand” for the new e-reader from Sony means that the device has sold out online. Priced at US$349.99, the ebook reader was launched on 27th September and sold out shortly afterwards.

Sony states on its website that “due to overwhelming demand, new orders may ship as late as November 30th”. Sony would not disclose manufacturing quantities or sales volumes for the product.

While much of this is undoubtedly down to early adopters who want to try out the device, not people with a genuine urge to make the switch from paper books, it’s hard to ignore, particularly with the high introductory price of $349.99, which many critics suggested would sink Sony’s plans.

While we haven’t had a chance to try out the Reader yet – for now obvious reasons – we have had a play with its predecessor, the Japanese LIBRIé, which uses the same e-ink technology, and were pleasantly surprised. Easy to read, even in harsh sunlight, pretty light and robust enough to shove in a handbag, it seemed an excellent first step down an obvious path (for product images, see the photostream: Reader and LIBRé). The Reader is the result of much feedback on the first device – and it opens on the right, in the opposite direction to the Japanese version which, reading right to left, confused a lot of people I showed it to at Frankfurt…

Coupled with Sony’s launch of the CONNECT ebooks store, and the ability to display PDFs, web content and play mp3s, this is undoubtedly the first serious electronic book on the market. We can be sure there will be plenty more to come.

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