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Sony plans $199 U.S. e-reader, takes on Amazon

uk.reuters.com

Sony plans $199 U.S. e-reader, takes on Amazon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Sony Corp will begin selling this month the cheapest digital book reader for the United States, heating up the competition with Amazon.com Inc in the small but fast-growing market for electronic readers.

Sony plans to start selling its 5-inch-screen Reader Pocket Edition at $199 — which it called a breakthrough price — and a larger touchscreen reader for $299, through nationwide retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

To drive demand, the company plans to reduce the price it now charges for downloads of best-sellers and new releases to $9.99 from $11.99, bringing prices in largely in line with Amazon’s.

Analysts say people that may have been holding off in the middle of a recession may be tempted by Sony to jump onto the digital-reader bandwagon.

“Achieving the $199 price point, we believe, expands the market dramatically,” Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading division, told Reuters in an interview.

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Tablets, e-readers closing book on ink-and-paper era

SAN FRANCISCO: Tablet computers and electronic readers promise to close the book on the ink-and-paper era as they transform the way people browse magazines, check news or lose themselves in novels.

Online retail giant Amazon has made electronic readers mainstream with Kindle devices, and Apple ignited insatiable demand for tablets ideal for devouring online content ranging from films to magazines and books.

In 2011, digital books earned about $3.2 billion in revenue, an amount that the combined momentum of e-readers and tablets is expected to triple to $9.7 billion by the year 2016, according to a Juniper Research report.

Readers are showing increased loyalty to digital books, according to the US Book Industry Study Group (BISG).

Nearly half of print book buyers who also got digital works said they would skip getting an ink-and-paper release by a favorite author if an electronic version could be had within three months, a BISG survey showed.

“The e-book market is developing very fast, with consumer attitudes and behaviors changing over the course of months, rather than years,” said BISG deputy executive director Angela Bole.

Concerns about e-book reading are diminishing, with people mainly wishing for lower device prices, according to the survey.

Owning e-readers tended to ramp up the amount of money people spent on titles in what BISG described as a promising sign for publishers.