Sony has unveiled a new version of its Reader e-book, and the gadget press is respectful, noting that the device is slimmer and has a better screen. But Sony’s e-book still suffers from the same flaw that plagues Amazon’s rumoured ebook: A lousy consumer proposition.
Sony is still charging a lot of money ($300) for a device that doesn’t really solve any problem for readers — or provide a real economic incentive to buy digital books. Sony’s Connect store does offer some books at a discount — a bundle of 3 titles from Dean Koontz’ back-catalogue go for $19 — but most titles are priced close to the physical product. Sony is selling a digital version of Bridge Of Sighs, Richard Russo’s new novel, for $14.36 — just an 11% discount of off Amazon’s $16.17 hardcover price. If Sony, Amazon, or anyone else is going to make ebooks work, they’re going to need to solve the pricing problem. Otherwise the gadgets will remain a novelty item.