Sony's Electronic Book Reader Gives A Glimpse Of Tomorrow's Publishing Market

Sony's £199 Librie E-ink Reader is set to be sold by Waterstone in its 200 stores nationwide in two days but its impact on the paper-based 560 years old book market could be felt as early as the next decade.

The slim, pocket sized electronic device comes only with 200MB worth of memory but this could easily be multiplied by 1000 in the next few months; right now, the Sony Reader can store 160 average-sized books, with a 200GB hard drive, this can be increased to 160,000.

That's the number of books, the British Library adds to its collection every six months although the battery life as it stands, would need to be greatly enhanced. A single charge is enough for 6800 page turns apparently - which is quite a lot.

Waterstone will allow customers to download tens of thousands of ebooks as well as classics for free.

Although some have compared Sony's reader to the iPod and how the latter contributed heavily to the demise of the physical audio CD media, there are a few differences.

The act of reading books is ingrained in our DNA whereas mass produced audio material only came during the second part of the last century.

Books are also infinitely cheaper to use in that the average user don't need any "reader" or "player" to access information.

However, given falling prices and improving technologies, Sony's Reader (and indeed others like Amazon Kindle), could nicely fit into a growing niche market of users who want the convenience of carrying as little as possible and instant access to virtual libraries.