From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Device for Reading e-books Passes a Beach Test

Sony and several other electronics makers are planning a seduction. They need to convince consumers in a market all but saturated with electronics that they really need a handheld reader for e-books. In August the company received a little help from Washington Post writer Mike Musgrove, who took his Sony® Reader to the beach.


According to The Ergonomics Report™, the manufacturers of the readers have a common goal – to provide a device perfected for what Sony calls “immersive reading.” The April 2007 issue of the publication, for subscribers with a professional interest in ergonomics, featured a review of e-book readers on the market.


The rivals of the Sony® Reader include the iLiad e-book reader and Cellular Book. In China is taking on its Western counterparts with the Hanlin eBook V and STAReBOOK. Apple is rumored to have its own offering in view and could be waiting for the pioneers in the sector to test the waters before deciding where and how to jump in.


All of the offerings strive to deliver on the promise made in the Sony® Reader promotion: “Everything you like to read, like books, newspapers and documents, you can now take along on a device as small and light as a single book. Even in bright sunlight the display … offers you perfect readability.”

Musgrove described his Sony experience in the article. He doesn’t mention "perfect readability, but it seems to have been satisfactory. “Click a button with your left thumb to hop to the next page on the device’s screen, which is about the size of the average paperback. After some extensive ocean-side research, I can report that it does a fine job of withstanding sand, suntan lotion and light rain.”

He noted that getting books onto the Reader works pretty much the way an iPod works for music. Connect the device to your computer, he said, fire up Sony’s online bookstore and download away. “Instead of carrying just one book on the plane you can now lug about 80, stashed in the Reader’s memory.”

Musgrove observed that the decade-old "e-publishing" revolution has hasn’t hit the mainstream. “This is a market that still exists in an uncertain area, embraced mostly by a small audience of early adopters – “like the MP3 player market before Apple entered the scene with the iPod.”

His experience suggests that Sony, at least, is delivering the experience it promises but that the seduction effort as a whole is lagging. He noted that sales of the devices are not yet meeting expectations. A report from research firm Forrester at the end of 2000 forecast that the e-book market would take in US $7.8 billion in revenue by 2005, but the real numbers came in short – US $54 million in 2006, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Sources: Washington Post; The Ergonomics Report™