The “promise” of e-books is so old it’s got hair on it, but now two online giants are stepping up to the plate with their own spin on how best to sell books digitally. Next month, Amazon will finally release its long-rumored Kindle, an e-ink reader which will wirelessly connect to Amazon via EVDO, so you can purchase books even more easily than new iPod Touch owners can buy songs while they’re at Starbucks. And before the end of the year, Google will start charging for full online access to some digital copies of books in its database.
The Kindle, in particular, may provide some competition for Sony’s year-old e-ink Reader, a small device about the size of a very thin tradecover, that can display e-books bought from Sony’s own online store. An analyst with Jupiter Research is doubtful either device will be very disruptive:
“Books represent a pretty good value for consumers. They can display them and pass them to friends, and they understand the business model. We have had dedicated e-book devices on the market for more than a decade, and the payoff always seems to be just a few years away.”
“Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books” [New York Times]