Sony Announces the "iBook"

You just know someone at Sony looked at the thing and said, “Imagine the spyware possibilities!”

Lest you think I’m kidding about the spyware:

Given Sony’s recent troubles with DRM, I can’t imagine that this is going to take off.

Conceptually I think it’d be great. I love the idea of being able to integrate a book, MP3 player and address book into one handheld device. Supposing you’re a commuter or frequent traveller this might be an excellent product. With airline restrictions how they are and how much stuff business people tend to have to lug around it’d be nice to be able to carry a handful of books in your pocket and replace the Ipod and Walkman.

The problem as I see it is going to be making it cost effective. Who would spend $400 for a gadget to read books which you’ll also have to pay for at the same price as a paperback. If they are able to sell books in electronic format that are much cheaper than hardcover books they might have a chance.

Effectively people will be trading mobility for the ability to borrow, trade, resell, and store books. I think book junkies who travel a lot might be persuaded so long as they are paying less for a book they won’t be able to put on their shelves.

In the end the DRM protocols they implement will most likely cripple it from being practical. If they try and go iTunes on it they are probably screwed. I wouldn’t want to have to try and make a business plan to make it work, that’s for sure.

Actually, iTunes’ protocols aren’t that big of a deal. They’re fairly easy to defeat, from what I understand. I’ve never tried, because they’re flexible enough for my use, but it’s pretty much pathetically easy (you could do it without even trying, IIRC). Sony won’t do that, however, they’ll most likely impliment something similar to the crap that got them into trouble with their CDs.

I think you’ve overestimating the knowledge of the average user. I can’t could the number of people I know that live and die by their IPods and couldn’t explain the difference between an MP3 format and an AAC format and are simply baffled to learn that their IPod will only sync with one computer.

Anyways, that’s neither here nor there. I’m sure Sony will go out of their way to prevent e-books from piracy and overstep whats practical in. The end result will kill the product.


It’s developed by eInk. Each “pixel” is a tiny sphere, white on one side and black on the other, which can be rotated by electronic signals. It’s purely reflective, so there’s no need for a power-hungry backlight and it’s perfectly legible under bright light, including direct sunlight. And the “white” pixels can be very white - not like monochrome LCD displays whose “white” is at most 50% reflective. I’ve seen the model sold in Japan and it’s incredible - I thought it was a fake display model with a paper sticker instead of a screen, until I pressed a key and the display changed.

Too bad it’s SONY developing this service… It was ridiculously expensive in Japan, with very limited selection. I don’t have much hope for it being any better here.

Sony is a company that makes really neat products. Then they charge too much for them. Then they abandon the marketplace.

Somebody has simply got to make a nice e-book for me to read on the plane. Sony has some nifty technology, but I will darned if I will buy it from Sony. Remember Sony mobile phones?

‘Electronic paper’ might actually be a term referring to more than one kind of technology, but they’re essentially talking about a visual display screen; typically reflective, possibly made of flexible materials and probably one that does not require power to maintain the image.

You know, I’m wishing that a manufacturer would just come along and create a product which uses this technology and sell it at a good price. Then let the publishers market and sell their offerings on their own.

All this convergence just ends up with conflicting interests fucking things up and industries doing things they aren’t good at doing.


Should I pay 400+ plus dollas for any easy to read, portable device that can store books and play Mp3, or should I pay 80 bucks for a MP3 plasyer with a tiny screen, that can show books.

Sure, it can take some getting used to, but it is actually quite readable, at least to me. Maybe not to everyone, but to me.

A <$100 Palm can do the same. The problem is, where do you get the content? Currently you can get old books whose copyright has expired, subscribe to one of several eBook publishers who have their own copy protection scheme, but selection is very limited in either case.

I’m actually wishing for one or two major companies to set up an iTunes like download service. I don’t mind copy-protected files as long as they are reasonably priced and the usage isn’t overly restrictive. (audiobook download service) is the best example I can think of - I’ve been a happy customer for many years. They keep track of books you’ve bought, and if you have a disk crash (or just delete them temporarily) you can download them again any time. You can have several devices (players) registered to a single account, and it’s fairly easy to un-register a device and add a new one.

I use my Palm Zire 71 and/or E2 to do all these things. It’s killing me that PDAs seem to be going the way of the 8-track. They’re just so damn useful.

While there’s something to be said for Palms and other LCD displays doing this, you can’t discount the value of the electronic paper. The stuff looks amazing and will make the battery life of the reader go into the stratusphere compared to a Palm.

There may be something to that. Reading on a Palm does eat up battery life. But $300 - $400 for an ebook reader that will probably run stuff on a proprietary format so that I can’t read my other ebooks on it??? Color me dubious. :confused:

Spyware and DRM are two very different things; just because it has DRM that’s not reason to believe it has spyware.

DRM - digital rights management, which prevents it from being copied and shared
Spyware - software that collects information and transmits it for collection

Except that Sony managed to miss that distinction very recently.

I also just realized that if this thing isn’t backlit, I can’t read in bed with the lights off like I can with my Palm.

So no iBook for me, I guess.

You can get a look at the eBook and get more info here

  I’ve probably had more experience with eBooks than most, as I bought the Gemstar (previously RCA) eBook almost five years ago. It was absolutely wonderful, full of great features such as dictionary, bookmarks, notations, ability to rotate the text through all four positions, very long life between battery charges, and seveal degrees of adjustment to backlight and contrast. Two page forward/back buttons that could be reversed.

  Had a built-in modem to download books or you could do it with the PC. Excellent librarian software. Best of all, you could download any two fonts and type sizes that were on your computer through the USB connection, so for those with vision problems, you could pick a large print.

  It did not have huge memory, but you could still load 8-10 books at a time. You could get them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc direrctly if you wanted. You could even subscribe to several magazines and newspapers.

  Unfortunately, the idiots at Gemstar (publishers of TV Guide) decided to stop supporting it and making books available, because “there was not enough demand.” As they never ever advertised nor promoted it, of course there was no demand as nobody knew about it. There was never a time I was reading it in an airport, doctor’s office or a store that somebody did not ask what it was, and was really impressed.

  Even though they said it could not be done, I figured out how to get Gutenberg text file books sucked into it, so still use it. When the battery dies, however, I’ll be stuck with a novel paperweight.

  So, I can hardly wait for the Sony to get out and be able to buy books again. It looks just wonderful, about the same size as the Gemstar, but thinner with loads more memory.

It’s a great device to take on long trips instead of a bunch of books. The concept sounded silly to me at first, but once I got it, was priceless. Many of my friends who saw it got it too, and all loved it, but all are now out in the cold as it is unsupported. If Sony plays the same game and abandons it after a while, there may be a lynching party going to Japan. :smiley:

Their recent toolkit thing probably had both, but they are still different distinct things.

I meant “rootkit”, not “toolkit”.

I’ll wait for the movie.