Sony steps up its e-publishing game

June 3rd, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Just before the iPad hit the stores in Japan, Sony announced plans to once again enter the fray of e-publishing. The firm was burned back in 2007 when it was forced to withdraw their e-reader from the Japanese market due to poor sales. But this time, Sony is coming to the fight armed with a content deal that might just put a dent in iPad and Kindle sales. Sony is teaming up with Toppan PrintingKDDI and the Asahi Shimbun to form an e-book content distribution service that will offer readers a range of comics, magazines, newspapers and books. The content will be available to use in conjunction with the company’s new e-reader that is due to be released to the public before the end of the year.

Up till now, publishers have been a little leery of entering the e-book market, but there seems to be a growing acceptance in the industry of the inevitability of the growth of the sector. According to J-Cast, on May 21 a book written by editor and web designer Tashiro Makoto was published on the subject of the future of the e-book publishing. Makoto who has proved himself to be ahead of the curve in this field – he set up an electronic publishing company called Agora Books in March this year – believes that e-publishing doesn’t necessarily spell doom for publishers, agents and books stores but believes that the iPad will have a profound effect on the publishing industry.

It goes without saying that publishers will have to adapt to survive, but it’s not yet clear just how much content will cost and how many titles will be available on Sony’s device which is due to be released in Japan before the end of 2010.

Another fuzzy issue is just what kind of specs Sony’s e-reader will have; whether it’ll resemble the Sony readers already available overseas or be an entirely new product. Poor screen resolution, as well as glare when reading outdoors, also contributed to downfall of Sony’s last attempt at conquering the e-reader market in Japan. In order to stand any chance of success the company will have to address these issues as well. But for now, they seemed to have scored big with their content deal, whether rival publishers like Agora who offer content for the iPad mount a serious threat to them is yet to be seen.

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