The Sony PSP‘s price has been Sony PSPknocked down from $200 to $170 in the U.S. So how long until the PSP includes decent e-book capabilities?

Eventually we’re probably talking about prices under $100, a level already reached by other manufacturers of games hardware.

Perhaps it’s time for Sony, other games-hardware makers, publishers, librarians and educators to get serious about games machines as e-book platforms.

Like vitamin-fortified cereal

Think of this as the e-equivalent of fortifying cereal with vitamins.

Many of today’s young people love games, librarians and the others want to reach out to them, and the above idea would be one book-friendly way to do it.

The touch screen issue

Granted, the Sony PSP lacks a touch screen and games players have different priorities from hand-held users and e-book readers. A somewhat sharper screen also wouldn’t hurt. Still, I suspect that hardware prices will drop to the point where we’re not talking about that much difference in costs. Simply put, book-reading capability should be there when buyers are ready to use it. Meanwhile Sony could do the best it could with existing hardware in striving to give us decent e-reading.

“Decent” defined

By “decent” capabilities, I mean at those at least at the level of the FBReader—with a simple interface for people wanting just the basics. I’m not happy with the current options offered by Sony and others.

And, no, reading books via a Web browser isn’t enough. I’m not one for proprietary e-book formats, but what if the PSP could handle Adobe and Mobipocket, among other options—in addition, of course, to HTML, RTF and whatever? Not to mention the IDPF standard and OpenReader.

Carrots and sticks

I know: Sony is Proprietary Central, but maybe enough public pressure could turn the company around on this issue. We’re talking PR here. Offer both carrots and sticks.

Same concept, by the way, could apply to others in games space, as I’ve more or less suggested above. Not to pick on Sony alone.


  1. David I completely agree, a PSP with PDF/Mobipocket support would be an excellent device for a cheap price: a large very bright screen (compared to PDAs), WiFi with a decent browser, and multimedia capabilities for audio and video. I would buy one today.

  2. hmmm

    I don’t see any reason why the same price drop could not happen to the SONY Reader.
    A cheaper reader would also bring more customers to their Connect ebook store.

  3. I’ve got a PSP, and I hacked it so that it can run homebrew applications (primarily I hacked it so that I could watch videos at the full resolution of the screen, a feature that Sony has included with their newest firmware)

    Anyway, there is a homebrew PDF reader – Bookr, and it’s a nice piece of software, but IMHO the PSP is really not suited to being an ebook reader. The screen isn’t big enough/high enough resolution for my tastes. I graduated from a PDA reader to an eBookwise 1150 a while back though.

  4. Thanks, Greg. Agree that the res could be better, but that’ll happen in the natural course of things. I suspect that once introed to e-books, a lot of people will follow your example and upgrade–which is fine. The idea is to get e-books in the thick on the action, which these days seems to be games. – David

  5. Hi, Tamas. Web browsers lack the same amenities for book reading that programs like FBReader offer. For example, I want a line at the bottom of the screen to help give me a quick idea of how far I am into the book, and I want to vary leading and a bunch of other things. Thanks. David

  6. The PSP web browser is sorely lacking in memory too – it won’t load large text documents – I have no idea what the limit is, but it’s not very big. Several hundred K if my memory serves.

    Of course there’s a homebrew browser out there too (based on Links2) but I haven’t tried it with the big documents that the PSP browser wouldn’t handle.

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