LibrieMy Sony Librie is gone, gone, gone, and I’m happy. The Next Big Thing in e-books will show up sooner or later, and that’s where the money from the Librie sale will go. TeleBlog readers already know how much I hated the Librie screen’s contrast ratio. But not everyone agrees with me, and Jupiter Research‘s Michael Gartenberg is full of Librie Love–well, kind of. Once again the Tower of eBabel looms ever so menacingly over the e-book business. In Sony’s Librie – The Best eBook Reader You’ll Likely Never Own, Gartenberg correctly writes:

So what’s the deal with this amazing device? Well for one, you can’t get one here in the US. Sony only sells the Librie in Japan and the unit and all the software is in Japanese. The bigger downside is that the only commercial content for the device comes from Sony’s Japanese eBook service that doesn’t sell you the books but only rents then for 60 days. In short, unless you really love technology, this isn’t the most practical device in the world at the moment.

Hey, what’s up at Sony? If CEO Howard Stringer really wants to change Sony’s dysfunctional corporate culture, the e-book side of the company would be a great place to start.

Now back to the Gartenberg blog item. As interesting as his observations are on the Librie, he has plenty else to say about the e-book biz:

…we did some research that there’s strong interest by consumers in electronic books and magazines. In the report we discovered that 54 percent of online consumers are interested in reading books, magazines, and newspapers in a digital format. Further, Sixty-three percent of consumers interested in eBooks and digital magazines indicated they would be interested in using a laptop to access the content. Tablet PCs, in which 37 percent of consumers are interested, are the second most popular option for accessing electronic texts, followed by 20 percent of consumers interested in using PDAs. Dedicated e-book readers came in at around 10% interested.

While the Librie is a dedicated e-book reader, Gartenberg obviously thinks that it could make a difference if Sony stopped bungling the show. The right software could help. He suggests eReader; I favor Mobipocket. Either would be better than the miserable proprietary dreck that Sony inflicts on people wanting to read modern e-books still under copyright. Human readers don’t want Sony and its prsesent allies to tell them what to read; they want a more mainstream format than the Sony-blessed one.

The true solution, of course, remains OpenReader as a way to tear down the Tower of eBabel and help popularize e-books, but I’m all Sony picking currently popular proprietary formats to address the needs of the here and now.

Question: While the Gartenberg item steers people to for books in Librie format, I don’t think that Matt McClintock has the beta working very well at this point. I’ll check with Matt. I lent Matt my own Librie and will check. Matt is no dummy, and his frustrations with the Librie are one more example of the perils of the Tower of eBabel approach.

Detail: I’m not surprised that Michael Gartenberg likes eReader, given the fact that its DRM system is much gentler on users than is the Dobermanish Microsoft Reader.


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