In the “what took you so long?” category for e-books, Sony introduces a digital library book today. The newest Sony Reader, dubbed the Daily Edition, is a $399 device with eInk and 7″ touchscreen. The library bit comes into play through a partnership with the New York Public Library for starters — you can “check out” any digital content from the library for up to 29 days. After the due date, the content expires and magically returns to the library. There’s a new Library Finder application to help you locate participating libraries and find content to borrow.
Of course, you need some kind of wireless connection to get those library books. Sony partnered with AT&T to include a wireless 3G radio inside the Reader Daily Edition. That bodes well for countries outside of the U.S. as it means support for the widely used HSDPA standards, even if the frequencies used are different. Licensing restrictions may still be an obstacle for content, but at least there’s hope in terms of connectivity. The connection can be used for direct book purchases from the Sony Reader dBook bookstore also.
The touchscreen can be used for taking notes — there’s an included stylus — and those notes can even be printed out if you won’t want to go completely digital. Sony is also launching version 3.0 of their reader software, which works on both PC and Mac computers. At $399, the newest Sony Reader is priced $100 more than Amazon’s Kindle, but does offer touch capabilities and loads of content thanks to the new library support. And Sony has recently reduced the prices of bestsellers to $9.99, just like Amazon.
Sony says the new device can store about 1,000 books on the internal memory, which is far more books than I ever checked out from my local library. If that’s not enough for you, there is a memory expansion slot for flash media too. Looks like we all have time to ponder a purchase decision on this one. The new Daily Edition device is expected in time for the holidays, which screams November or December to me.