Sony US has announced a new 3G-compatible touchscreen addition to its line-up of electronic books, or 'e-readers' as they have commonly become known, with Sony UK finally announcing the release of the Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition for British eBookworms.
Not only that, the Japanese consumer electronics giant has potentially one-upped Amazon (its major competitor in the eBook market with its Kindle range) by announcing a partnership with local libraries in the UK – with Sony's 'library finder service' allowing users to register for a 'library card' and then borrow an e-book for 29 days, after which they will automatically be removed from your Sony Reader.
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The service is set to be completely free and managed in partnership with public libraries – with the New York Public Library over in the US the first to announce its involvement in the innovative scheme.
Sony Readers arrive in UK
Sony UK is launching both the Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition for British e-bookworms, with a press event scheduled this week at The British Library in London. Though there's still no sign of the new Reader Daily Edition in the UK at this point (although we still live in hope that Sony might be holding back that announcement for later this week).
The Reader Pocket Edition sports a five-inch electronic paper display "packaged in a stylish chassis and is available in rose pink and silver finishes."
Sony's press info adds that: "The diminutive device can store approximately 350 standard e-books and provides up to two weeks of reading on a single battery charge."
The Sony Reader Touch Edition "features a responsive, menu-driven six-inch touchscreen panel that enables quick, intuitive navigation, page turning, highlighting and note taking with the swipe of a finger or by using the included stylus."
eLibraries, with no fines!
While there is no firm word as to partnerships with specific UK libraries as yet, the company does assure us that "Sony is also committed to working with local libraries throughout the UK as they make the move to digital books.
"Both new Reader models are compatible with the industry-standard formats that libraries use for their digital collections, so users can easily download perennial favourites and new releases from their local libraries and enjoy them for free."
Just not via a 3G network in the UK, according to Sony's slightly baffling strategy to release a 3G Reader in the US but not over here.
Still, that minor gripe aside, it's great news and it shows that Sony is really thinking outside of the box when it comes to promoting reading on e-readers. Plus, a full list of participating libraries from which members can electronically borrow eBooks is soon to be made available at sony.co.uk/reader.
TechRadar will be attending the Sony Reader event at the British Library later this week, so stay tuned for updates on that front.
"Since last year's hugely successful launch of our first Reader in the UK, we have watched the e-book market go from strength to strength" said Omar Gurnah, category manager for Reader for Sony UK.
"We now have the most accessible devices on the market and our goal is to get these devices into the hands of as many people as possible, enabling them to read the content they want, when they want it - whether they buy it, borrow it, or get it for free."
Both the Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition will be available to pre-order from tomorrow from sony.co.uk and Sony Centres.