Sony Reader Daily Edition Goes Wireless, Promises Library Books

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Electronics giant Sony is continuing its assault on the Amazon Kindle, today announcing another new ebook reader: the Sony Reader Daily Edition. The Daily Edition directly addresses some of the points where Kindle fans could argue they had an advantage: the Daily Edition touts a slightly larger 7-inch E-Ink display that can handle 16 levels of greyscale, and the unit will sport an integrated 3G modem to provide free 3G wireless connectivity to the Sony eBook Store from AT&T. And, once partnerships are in place, the Daily Edition will be able to check out ebooks from libraries using their library cards—users just download ebooks and transfer them to the reader, and the books automatically expire when the lending period is over—no late fees.

“We firmly believe consumers should have choice in every aspect of their digital reading experience,” said Sony’s digital reading business VP Steve Haber, in a statement. “Today, we take another large stride to deliver on that promise.”

The announcement follows Sony’s introduction of new ebook Readers earlier this month.

The 3G connectivity will give Daily Edition readers the ability to browse, buy, and download books from Sony’s Ebook Store anywhere they can get AT&T 3G access; although users won’t be able to use the connectivity to, say, hope out to Web sites or other ebook retailers. (Users can still side-load content in EPUB format for use on the reader.) The Daily Edition reader features a 7-inch touchscreen display (which makes it slightly larger than Sony’s existing Readers) that can be used in either portrait or landscape mode. Sony says the unit has enough memory to hold more than a thousand standard ebooks: we’re taking that to mean the Daily Edition might have as might as 2 GB of onboard memory, since Sony claims other Readers with 512 MB of memory hold about 350 standard books. The Daily Edition sports expansion slots for side-loading content and expanding storage, andl, ike other readers, the Daily Edition can hande EPUB documents as well as PDF, Microsoft Word, BBeB, and text files.

Sony is also partnering with Overdrive, which distributes ebooks to libraries, to let users access a local library’s collection of eBooks by visiting the Sony eBook Store. Users can find nearby libraries by entering their ZIP codes, and check out ebooks with a valid library card via the library’s download Web site. Once checked out, an ebook can be sideloaded onto a Sony Reader, where it will automatically expire at the end of the lending period. The New York Public Library will reportedly be among the first libraries to offer the service.

The Sony Reader Daily Edition should be on sale in December for about $399.

Sony has also announced new relationships with traditional and digital publishers to offer content in the EPUB format; new publishers include Powells, NetGalley, BooksOnBoard, and over 200 members of the American Booksellers Association; content from all these sources can be read on the Sony Reader but not on the Amazon Kindle…at least not yet.