April 6 – 13, 2006 Edition

Sony’s New PRS-500

Reader to Be iTunes

of the Book World?

4/4/06—Sony’s new PRS-500 Portable Reader may be the iTunes of Books, according to an article on ZDNet’s blog. The reader will soon be available for sale at Borders bookstores.

“Sony will take a page from Apple by setting up an online store, which will be run as part of its existing music downloading service, Connect. And as Apple did with music, Sony has lined up major players in publishing, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, to sell books through the store,” says a recent item in Business Week.

The model for such a move is Apple’s iTunes Music Store (IMS) which has sold more than a billion songs over the Internet, and already accounting for 6% of music sales.

Sony is positioned to do the same with electronic books, this time with far greater success than the original e-book market, provided it can work out the many digital rights management (DRM) issues with publishers. Authorlink believes the DRM issue seems easier to solve now than it once was since major publishers are actively seeking ways to protect themselves against Google Print and Google Library, services that are embroiled in lawsuits with the publishing industry over unauthorized scanning of books.

The ZDNet story calls Sony and the setting up of an online bookstore similar to iTunes, a threat to brick and mortar bookstores, just as iTunes has impacted music store sales. However, the major shift toward downloadable Internet book sales appears inevitable.