Tag Archives: Sony

Sony Cuts eBook Prices to $9.99

NYTimes article on Sony cutting eBook prices from 11.99 to 9.99.This is my favorite section:  “Regarding the price cut for digital books, Mr. Haber said: “We have to offer value. It’s clear e-books should be less expensive than regular books, with the savings on printing and logistics getting passed on to the consumer.”and this is the worrisome part:  “Book publishers will still retain their traditional cut of every e-book sale — about half the hardcover retail list price. But they are concerned that as online retailers like Amazon and Sony gain market power, they will eventually tire of losing money on e-book sales and ask publishers for lower wholesale prices, a move that would cut into their profit margins.”   To me this says less publishers and more publishing control by Amazon and Sony.  Toss Google in that mix and we’ve got ourselves quite a trifecta.

British Library support of e-book readers

From RI Newsline:
Over the next three months readers at the British Library can try out three e-book readers from Sony and iRex Technologies … Devices on display include the Sony Reader, the iRex DR1000 and the iLiad.
From the press release, “Offering a hugely versatile reading experience, e-readers have seen an explosion of interest in recent months, with leading publishing experts suggesting that the industry has finally hit its ‘iPod moment’.”

Kindle2 Sony Reader in the personal market

Michael Pelikan has written an interesting article in Against the Grain about the Kindle Sony ebook reader showdown (Feb 2009 issue, article not available online.)  Michael focuses this first article on the personal use market, but I’m (impatiently) awaiting the next installment when he will look at library support for reading devices.  Michael is from Penn State where they’ve partnered with Sony to distribute Sony Readers through the library and within selected courses.  The article includes interesting comments from faculty about the experience.  He also gives a shout-out to calibre, open source ebook management software.

FTC Digital Rights Management town hall meeting: summing up

From Teleread, author not listed:

FTC Digital Rights Management town hall meeting: summing up

Posted: 26 Mar 2009 09:39 AM PDT

I have had a day to think about what I saw at the FTC’s town hall meeting on Digital Rights Management yesterday, and what it might mean for the future of DRM. The conference fell into the classic “good news, bad news” scenario.

Unrealistic Expectations

The good news is that the FTC is now more aware than ever of the difficulties to consumers implicit in Digital Rights Management (especially since they received over 800 public comments, which they admitted during the meeting they had not managed to work all the way through yet). The bad news is that it is not the FTC’s brief to adjudicate matters relating to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and fair use, or even anti-trust concerns relating to non-interoperable DRM.

The FTC is chiefly concerned with unfair and deceptive business practices. (For example, in the other big FTC story of the day, the FTC announced yesterday it was suing Dish Network for making telemarketing calls to people listed on the national Do Not Call Registry.)

If companies make deceptive statements in advertising about the limitations of their DRM, the FTC will look into it. If companies release DRM that harms the consumer (as in the infamous Sony rootkit debacle), they will investigate and possibly sanction. But they can’t do anything to let you copy DVDs to your video iPod when the DMCA forbids it. Talk to Congress about that.

That being said, the meeting was of great interest just for the open discussion of DRM among big guns from both consumer-advocacy and commercial trade groups. Anyone who did not realize DRM was a contentious issue before would certainly have gotten an earful.

Potential Remedies

Though some speakers were not terribly exciting (one read a ten-minute prepared statement in a sleep-inducing monotone; another rambled on at length about a “thought experiment” involving taking a bus full of developing-country representatives to a shopping mall that made no sense either during or after the speech), most of them had good points to make, pro or con.

Several potential DRM remedies were discussed, including

  • a logo-based disclosure system like ESRB or MPAA ratings so consumers would be able to see at a glance what DRM was on a product
  • making DRM systems more interoperable, or adding “exception handling” so DRM would permit more fair uses
  • DRM-using companies depositing keys and source code in escrow so that if they went bankrupt consumers would be able to crack the DRM and have access to the media they paid for afterward.

These took on a character of “pie in the sky,” however, given that imposing such solutions is generally outside the FTC’s brief. For example, making DRM more interoperable would be difficult given that companies generally have a vested interest in making sure their DRM works for them alone. (Apple’s stranglehold on the digital music industry due to its Fairplay DRM was brought up more than once.)

The FTC Takes Questions

One of the more interesting panels to me was the very last, in which representatives of the FTC got in the hot seat to field questions and comments as to what they might actually do about DRM. The answer: as stated above, not a whole lot.

Nonetheless, the first question fielded was one that I emailed, and I was even mentioned by both real name and moniker. (I had asked that TeleRead be mentioned as the source, but they forgot.) I pointed out that Amazon owned the Mobipocket e-book format, currently used by many of its e-book competitors, and asked what the FTC would be willing to do if they decided to stop licensing that format.

The FTC panel replied that they could not address specific what-if scenarios, but they could talk about similar investigations they had done in the past. They talked about their investigation into Microsoft when Microsoft wanted to get out of the music business and shut down its DRM servers—meaning that consumers would no longer be able to play the music they had bought from Microsoft. They closed the investigation after Microsoft agreed to keep its servers turned on.

All in all, the FTC town hall meeting was an interesting event, and worthwhile in that it fostered public discussion and debate about DRM that might end up educating more people about its disadvantages. But those who expected any solid commitments will be left disappointed.

Other Coverage

Here is a roundup of other articles I have found covering the town hall meeting.

Oren’s Weblog has excellent panel-by-panel summaries of the event (though Oren did not chronicle the sixth panel, in which the FTC answered questions about what measures it might take):

Content Agenda looks at the meeting here; the Copyright and Technology blog has coverage here. Brad’s Reader looks at some implications for e-books here. Here is a PDF article laying out a system of logo-based disclosure of DRM on download products of the sort that was proposed at the meeting.

Ars Technica also has an article summing up the first few panels that came before the lunch break.

Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

From the wired.com blog
Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

By Charlie Sorrel EmailMarch 19, 2009 | 5:36:39 AMCategories: Books

Sony has inked (e-inked?) a deal with Google to bring half a million public domain books to its Reader e-book device, but surprise! Being a Sony service it looks to be awkward to use and no better than just grabbing the texts from Project Gutenberg.

Google has been scanning and textifying public domain texts in its attempt to organize the world’s information, and now they’ll be available for Sony’s e-book reader. This initiative, while certainly laudable as a way to get free books properly formatted for the device, really shows up the Sony Reader and its lack of a wireless internet connection.

First, you need to go to the Sony eBook Store and grab the PC software. Then you can search from the comfort of your own computer the half million books Sony has grabbed from Google. Then you need to sideload the content onto your Reader.

Worse, try going to the eBook site to find the Google link. You’ll have to scroll around. Sony’s web designers have decided to make the word “Google” appear only in jpeg form, so no quick page-search to find it.

Oh, Sony. It’s a nice try, but we think you already lost this one. The Kindle is currently the iPod of e-book readers, and while it doesn’t do everything, what it does do it does right. Plus, you can download any of Project Gutenberg’s free books, or even Google’s, directly, even on the beach. If you really want to read  Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, that is.

Product page [Sony]

Press release[PR Newswire via Reuters]

NetLibrary titles now available on Sony Reader

Sony teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers
By Paul Biba

Sony is continuing to market its reader to more and more outlets. That’s only good for e-books as a whole.

In addition to the deal with Harlequin, Sony just announced a collaboration with NetLibrary:

images.jpgThe program includes a Reader model PRS-505, a collection of titles from leading publishers and all required licenses. Using the library’s PC, librarians can download a mobile collection title or titles from the NetLibrary site to the Reader as necessary.

Libraries that purchase Mobile Collections will be able to offer their patrons the ability to check out Readers for onsite or offsite use, depending on the policy established by each library. Collections, selected by NetLibrary’s collections librarian, include Career Development and Business Self Help (30 titles), Management and Leadership (22 titles), Popular Fiction (29 titles), Romance (19 titles) and Young Adult Fiction (24 titles).

Circulating Reader units through OCLC’s newly established program is just one way libraries are able to offer eBooks to their communities and expose people to electronic reading. Thousands of public libraries in the United States already offer online collections that patrons can borrow, typically for two to three weeks. eBooks are offered in the Adobe PDF format and it is expected that the recently established EPUB format will become common.

Sony Teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers

From www.teleread.org

Sony teams with NetLibrary to offer digital editions and Readers
By Paul Biba

Sony is continuing to market its reader to more and more outlets. That’s only good for e-books as a whole.

In addition to the deal with Harlequin, Sony just announced a collaboration with NetLibrary:

images.jpgThe program includes a Reader model PRS-505, a collection of titles from leading publishers and all required licenses. Using the library’s PC, librarians can download a mobile collection title or titles from the NetLibrary site to the Reader as necessary.

Libraries that purchase Mobile Collections will be able to offer their patrons the ability to check out Readers for onsite or offsite use, depending on the policy established by each library. Collections, selected by NetLibrary’s collections librarian, include Career Development and Business Self Help (30 titles), Management and Leadership (22 titles), Popular Fiction (29 titles), Romance (19 titles) and Young Adult Fiction (24 titles).

Circulating Reader units through OCLC’s newly established program is just one way libraries are able to offer eBooks to their communities and expose people to electronic reading. Thousands of public libraries in the United States already offer online collections that patrons can borrow, typically for two to three weeks. eBooks are offered in the Adobe PDF format and it is expected that the recently established EPUB format will become common.

Read an E-Book Week March 8 – 14

Read An E-Book Week Read an E-Book Week (March 8 – 14) is fast approaching. In preparation for the big event this year we have completely redone our website – http://www.ebookweek.comThis year we welcome several new supporters – Tor.com, Sony, world-renowned author, Warren Adler, and E Ink to name a few.

Mr. Adler has provided an interesting article for our home page and two well-known guest writers are working on articles about the future of e-books for the website.

Help us celebrate Read an E-Book Week. Let us know what your library or organization has planned for the event and we’ll include you on our Partners page. Perhaps it will be a challenge read, or someone will staff a learn-how-to-download-e-books station to help newbie users.

If you would like a banner for your website they are available for downloading at: http://www.ebookweek.com/ebook_banners.html Feel free to resize them to fit your needs.

Rita Toews

Founder – Read an E-Book Week

Independent Publishers – Meet Constellation, your answer to eBooks

I think you all know that I love ebooks, particularly in my reference collection.  My main gripe, the small independent publishers don’t have the resources to publish their titles electronically.  Now, there is a solution.  Yesterday, the Perseus Books Group launched Constellation – an eBook solution for independent publishers.

Constellation will convert print ready PDFs into .epub and other formats in order to distribute them to various eBook content providers.  Ebrary and Overdrive are both on the list, in addition to Amazon and Sony.

Librarians, spread the word to your favorite independent publisher.   Check out the press release from Perseus.

EPUB Standard now on Sony Reader

From Publishers Weekly:

Sony Adopts EPUB Standard for Reader

By Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 7/24/2008 7:16:00 AM

The International Digital Publishing Forum’s epub e-book standard received a big vote of support this morning when Sony announced that effective immediately its Sony Reader will now support the standard. Beginning in August, all new devices shipped will use epub, and right now owners of existing devices can go to http://esupport.sony.com to update their device’s software for epub support.

Brennan Mullin, v-p of Sony Audio, said the company was adopting the epub standard to encourage more vendors, booksellers and publishers to get involved in the e-book market and to broaden the amount of content that can be viewed on the Reader. The move to use epub is a significant change in approach for Sony, which has used its own standards and restricted consumers to buying e-books for the Reader from its own store. The use of epub will allow consumers to buy titles from a variety of outlets and will grow the number of titles compatible with the Reader to well passed the 45,000 now available through its online store. Another avenue for new material will be Adobe: Sony also annouced today that the device will support Adobe e-books with DRM and will also have the capability to reflow standard PDF e-books and other documents.

Publishers, who generally favor the one-format approach made possible by epub, welcomed Sony’s decision. “Sony’s support of epub is an important step forward in the cooperation of publishers and portable digital book manufacturers to create better experiences for readers,” said Brent Lewis, v-p digital & internet for Harlequin. “We’re thrilled with the upgrade.”  IDPF, of which Sony is a member, approved epub as an industrywide standard in an attempt to foster interoperability among e-book reading devices.

Mullin said sales of the Reader have been steady and that sales of titles have increased. Interest in e-books has grown and although reluctant to credit a competitor, Mullin acknowledged that the buzz around Amazon’s Kindle “has been good for everybody in the e-book market.” Amazon, however, has not adopted the epub standard.

In addition to adopting the epub standard, Sony has announced it has started offering the Reader in the U.K.