Sony is rolling out its new eBook reader in competition with the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Nobel Nook, along with the ebook feature of the Apple iPad. The Sony eBook has a couple of features that make it stand out.
According to PC Pro, the first feature involves an easier search of books archived on Google:
“The first part of this is Sony has hatched a deal with Google to place a custom search of Google books on the Sony website opening an estimated 500,000 titles up for quick and easy download. Google’s standard book search doesn’t let you filter results in this way, so finding titles you can take away on an eBook has, up until now, been a hit and miss affair.”
The second feature, however, is even more intriguing, as it opens up the possibility of electronic lending libraries.
“The second, and more interesting development, is support for free eBook loans from local authority libraries, a feature the Amazon Kindle doesn’t support. If you’re lucky enough to be a member of a local library supporting the service you’ll be able to visit its website, tap your library card number in and borrow any book in the eBook catalogue, for free, for a period of 14 or 21 days.
“The odd thing about this is it works in a very similar way to the good old bricks-and-mortar library. While a title is out on loan, it’s unavailable to others to borrow (unless the library has purchased multiple copies); it only becomes available again once the loan period expires and the book removes itself from your reader.”
So far, only 50 or so libraries in the United Kingdom have signed up for the service, and only a few books are available for electronic borrowing.
The electronic lending library feature would be a boon for readers who just want something to read and do not want to build up a personal, electronic library. One suspects that newer versions of the Kindle and the Nook will shortly incorporate this feature.
Authors of ebooks will have to watch this new feature with a little diligence. If a book has a lot of demand, libraries will be obliged to buy multiple copies, making a new market for ebooks. On the other hand, offering an ebook free to borrow might cut into sales on ebooks at places like Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.
It is difficult to predict how the economics will play out for authors. It may be that some will greatly benefit and others may be hurt. No doubt there will be a lot of negotiation to work out any kinks that develop in the coming months and years.
Source: Sony’s new eBook readers: first-look review, Jonathon Bray, PC Pro, September 9th, 2010