No doubt Sony is beginning to feel the heat from Amazon. While its Sony Reader was on the market much longer than Amazon’s Kindle has been, in the short time Amazon’s device has been with us it has taken the e-book world by storm.
Suddenly Sony is finding itself in a position it probably would rather not be in: take on Amazon directly or risk being relegated to also-ran status against its growing competitor.
Well, the first move in what will probably be a multi-step response is a partnership with Google. Sony will initially offer about 500,000 copyright-free books for its device that have been scanned by Google’s book search service.
Reader users would also be happy to hear all these titles would be made available for free. Most of Kindle’s titles are priced at $9.99 and above.
As per copyright law, Google will not be able to offer full versions of books that still have copyright. However, its collection before 1923 would be made available to the Sony Reader.
With these new books, the Reader would catapult past the Kindle for most titles available. Amazon only offers about 250,000 books, but has taken the business model of offering only the most popular and current titles. Sony would have about 600,000 titles available after Google’s digitized library is added.
Is this a good move? It remains to be seen. One thing that Sony has going for it is the fact that it can be sold internationally fairly easy. The Kindle uses CDMA technology, which is rarely used outside of the North American continent.
While the Reader needs to be tethered to a computer to download books, it can do this anywhere. Sony could exploit this weakness to its advantage if it so desired. Amazon, you might want to start considering a GSM version, no?