All three of Sony’s current-generation e-readers are now cheaper. The basic Reader Pocket Edition, which has a 5-inch screen, dropped to $150, shedding $20. The 6-inch Reader Touch Edition now costs $170 instead of $200. And Sony’s Reader Daily Edition, which has 3G connectivity and a 7-inch screen, trimmed $50 for a $300 price tag.
It’s tough to draw a straight line between Sony’s e-readers and the competition, because they don’t quite line up on key features. Sony’s Daily Edition is the only reader that can download books without a PC; neither of the other models can connect to the Internet. And both the Touch and Daily edition have touch-responsive E-Ink screens, a feature not found on Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
Sony is also a big advocate of e-books in libraries, having recently announced a program to help expand public libraries’ support for e-books. Barnes & Noble’s Nook supports library e-books as well, but I have a feeling the company will be less of a cheerleader for library use with so much of its business tied up in book sales.
Which brings up another distinction: Compared to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Sony appears less interested in turning its e-reading business into a software platform. The company has an online book store and offers e-reader software for PC and Mac, but not for smartphones or Apple’s iPad. Increasingly, it seems like that’s where the competition is focused, so it should be interesting to see how Sony’s strategy pans out.