E-Books have been around for years. A number of companies have introduced handheld devices, and each promised to "revolutionize" the world of printed books. Each claimed that it could replace printed books.
Most e-book devices quietly faded away within a year or so. Now Sony is bringing out a new device that just might live up to all the promises. The printed page is now facing its biggest threat with the introduction of the first electronic book that people can read for hours without eyestrain.
Sony's Reader is the size of a paperback but can store hundreds of books. You will be able to carry the equivalent of several shelves of books in a purse or overcoat pocket, complete with text, drawings, and pictures. When the cover is lifted, books display on a sheet of electronic "paper", one page at a time.
Past e-book readers used LCD screens, similar to laptop computers. The biggest complaint has been that readers' eyes quickly become tired from the glare and flicker of the conventional computer screen. The new Sony Reader displays its text on a page of high-resolution electronic paper that is virtually indistinguishable from regular paper. Eyestrain will be less than that of a page printed on paper!
The Sony Reader can display drawings and pictures, and the text can be enlarged up to 200 per cent to make it easier for readers with poor sight. The page is made from millions of tiny capsules, suspended in a transparent liquid with a plastic film coating.
The capsules contain positively charged white particles and negatively charged black ones. Depending on what type of charge is applied to the page, the white or black particles move to the surface of the capsule, forming images.
Electronic paper also needs relatively little power, so the life of a battery should not be a problem.
Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, is among its fans. "It is not about replacing books," he said. "But e-books offer features that traditional books cannot." For example, rather than carrying several books while traveling, owners of a Reader need take only one on holiday. "If I want a new book, I can download it instantly online, even if it is two in the morning," Brown said.
Owners will be able to buy books from Sony's online store, download them to a computer, and transfer them to their Reader. They will also be able to download any books that are out of copyright free of charge. While not stated in the announcement, I suspect that users will be able to download books from numerous other sources, such as Google's new offerings of millions of free digitized books that are out of copyright. Hundreds of genealogy books are already available on Google Books, and that number will increase. While Sony may not offer the interface to Google, enterprising third-party company will certainly offer that if the Sony Reader succeeds with its plans.
The Sony Reader is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in April at between $300 and $400 U.S.
You can learn more at http://products.sel.sony.com/pa/PRS/