Sony reveals new Reader, e-book borrowing service

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Yesterday Sony held an event at the New York Public Library to talk about its e-book strategy. Here's a recap of what they had to offer.

The biggest news was the reveal of the third product in its refreshed Reader line. The Reader Daily Edition is the new high end model. It offers a 7" touchscreen display and built-in 3G wireless. Wireless will be limited to accessing the Sony e-book store, but it will be free to use. The cost of this model will be $400. As we talked about yesterday, the Reader Daily (and the other models, Reader Pocket and Reader Touch) will be able to access content from other stores as well, via their support for the ePub format. Reader Daily will be available this holiday season.

Of interest to all Sony Reader owners was news of a new lending-library system. The idea is that you can borrow an e-book from a local library, and that e-book comes with a limited time license. When the license expires, you can no longer access the book (unless you re-borrow it). For their part, the library owns a fixed number of licenses of a given title that they can lend, so it is possible that a book you want to borrow won't be immediately available. You do need a library card for the library you want to borrow from. The New York Public Library is the first to offer this service but we're promised many more to come.

The technology comes from OverDrive, which has a press release with more info. OverDrive says it services over 9,000 libraries and other digital content distributors.

Last, Sony announced a new version of its e-book software, eBook Library 3.0. The software now works on Macs. The new version supports printing out notes you take on your Reader Touch or Reader Daily (the Reader Pocket doesn't have a touch screen for note taking).

So now we have the Kindle 2 at $300 and the Reader Daily at $400. The Reader has a touch screen and the library service. Is that worth a $100 difference in price to you? For me I think it depends on my local library supporting the device; I could easily save $100 in book costs by borrowing from the library. The touch screen isn't actually that compelling to me. I just want to read books in a font-size I find comfortable at the end of a long day. What about you? Comments are welcome!

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