Borders to sell Sony digital reading device

Book chain will sell Sony's new e-book viewer, designed to let people read large books on a small gadget. Photo: Sony's digital reader

The Sony Reader, a new text-reading device that lets you have the Bible or the entire works of Tolstoy on hand but carry around the physical equivalent of a paperback, will be sold at Borders bookstores.

The gadget, which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year , evokes the visual stability of something printed on overlay. It resembles actual paper and ink, with little flickering.

Sony Reader

The high-resolution (SVGA 800x600) electronic-paper display screen supports BBeB Book, PDF and MP3 formats and can also display JPEG images.

The device measures 6.9 inches by 4.9 inches by 0.5 inches and weighs in at just more than half a pound. The Sony Reader takes Memory Sticks or SD flash memory cards to augment 64MB of internal memory, creating the potential to travel with hundreds of books.

The Sony Reader also has "a seemingly limitless battery life equivalent of 7,500 pages turns," according to a Stony statement. That's because there is no rundown on the battery over time. Power is only consumed when a reader turns the page.

The battery can then be recharged via the included USB or AC adapter cables.

Borders, Sony Style Stores and SonyStyle.com will begin selling Sony Reader devices and gift cards to Connect.com, but not the downloadable eBooks themselves. eBook content for the Sony Reader will be available via Connect.com, Sony's downloadable content store that has been struggling against the popularity of Apple Computer's iTunes. In addition to eBooks, Connect.com will also offer content from blogs, news feeds and online magazines for use with the Sony Reader.

The Sony Reader could have a future with tech-comfortable baby boomers since it's lightweight and the font can be resized on demand, essentially replacing the need for large print versions of books, which are heavy and not available for every title.

Consumers will, however, have to be convinced of the gadget's ease on the eyes, as people tired of focusing on a computer screen all day may not be so willing to read another type of screen in their free time.

To get consumers to see for themselves what it's like to read an electronic-paper display screen, Borders and Sony Style stores carrying the Sony Reader will feature kiosks where customers can play with the device. Sony is also featuring a product overview of the Sony Reader on its Web site.

The eBook reader also has an optional cover to mimic the board and spine of an actual book.

The Sony Reader will be available this summer through 200 Borders stores, 30 Sony Style stories and Sony Style.com. It will retail for between $299 and $399.

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