If you haven’t heard the news… Sony is releasing a new e‑book reader, its answer to Amazon’s Kindle. Retailing at $399, the Sony reader will feature a touch screen (something the Kindle doesn’t have) and the ability to download books wirelessly (something the Kindle does have). It will also provide access to thousands of free (public domain) books & documents provided by Google Book Search. A nice touch.
But I’m wondering whether the Sony reader will beat the Kindle in the one category that really counts? Will it have a truly readable screen? The Sony and Amazon screens each use “e‑ink” technology, which doesn’t cut the mustard. As Nicholson Baker recently wrote in The New Yorker, “The problem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had really been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The problem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a greenish, sickly gray. A postmortem gray. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker gray. Dark gray on paler greenish gray was the palette of the Amazon Kindle.”
Hopefully Sony figures this piece out. If not, Apple may. According to The Wall Street Journal, Steve Jobs is back at Apple, just months after his liver transplant, working hard and raising the blood pressure of Apple employees, as they prepare to roll out a multimedia tablet that’s rumored to include, yes, an e‑book reader.