Sony’s new e-reader to go exclusive with booksellers

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Six years after Sony’s e-book reader was first released in other markets, Australian electronics retailers are being forced to wait a little longer to sell this product, with Sony Australia yesterday saying that only Sony Centres and two High Street book retailers will have access to its two e-readers.

Two new models were displayed to media yesterday: the Reader Touch (RRP $299) and the Reader Pocket (RRP $229). Despite the somewhat ambiguous naming, it is important to note that both these models have touchscreen capabilities. The major difference between the two is the size, with the Touch out-screening the Pocket 6 inches to 5 inches. The Touch also has an SD slot for memory expansion up to 32GB, which means it can apparently store up to 1,200 books, meaning it can just fit John Grisham’s entire bibliography.

Sony Australia has partnered with RedGroup Retail, owners of both Borders and Angus & Robertson, for this launch. Current.com.au was told that for these products, it is better to target consumers at the places where they shop most often. So, for an e-reader, selling it through the retail literature channel is for more effective that through the general consumer electronics channel, according to Sony Australia.

Both Sony’s models are open format, supporting a multitude of different file suffixes. A quick look at the Borders website revealed books starting at $2.95 for those in public domain (our example is Vanity Fair by Thackeray) up to $25.95 for Paul Kent’s biography of Johnny Lewis. Over at Amazon, supplier of the Kindle, Vanity Fair (and a plethora of other public domain books) is free, but the Johnny Lewis biography didn’t appear to be available.

Also on show at yesterday’s press briefing were two new Sony Alpha cameras (from RRP $1,099 and $1,399), a new Bloggie touch camera (RRP $299), a Blu-ray Home Theatre System (RRP $1,599) and the “world’s first” HD consumer camcorder with interchangeable lenses (RRP $3,499).

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