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BY NICO VREELAND

UPDATE: The 3.0 version of Sony’s eBook Library, including a Mac version, is live here. A word of warning: if you use Camino, right-click and select “Download Link Target.” When I clicked the download link directly, it tried to open the .dmg file in a browser window and crashed Camino. Twice. So far my hopes are not high for this software. Original post follows.

TeleRead has great coverage of today’s big Sony announcement, including
the full press release and a minute-by-minute account of the announcement itself.

The big news from Sony’s end was their $399 “Daily Edition” wireless-capable ereader, due in December (just in time to get upstaged by the Plastic Logic device, due early next year).

Personally, I’m not that excited about the Daily Edition, mostly because it has a touchscreen, and Sony Reader touchscreen have been notoriously glare-prone and low-contrast, because the touchscreen layer sits on top of the E-Ink screen. The widescreen design also looks a little weird (although it seems designed for the 2-page view, pictured), and Sony might have shot themselves in the foot with the price point. On the plus side, it’s a first competitor to the Kindle’s wireless, which is great for ebook consumers. We’ll see about all that in December.

Meantime, the best news of all is this tidbit, from Paul Biba’s report of the announcement: “Launching 3.0 library software today, including a Mac edition.” I believe that means that Sony’s releasing their eBook Library 3.0 software today, which will finally have a Mac version. It’s not live yet, though (here’s the link to the download page).

Other than that, there seems to be a lot of hype and a lot of misdirection. The president of the New York Public Library (NYPL) announced that, according to Paul’s account, “Free content from the library will be available on Sony readers.” However, the press release states, “starting today, Sony’s Library Finder application will go live. Library Finder offers visitors to the eBook Store by Sony easy access to their local library’s collection of eBooks.”

Some websites and newspapers are mistakenly reporting that borrowing library ebooks is a new feature for the Sony Reader. But that’s not true.

You can already find a nearby library with an ecollection from the OverDrive search page, and borrow ebooks directly from your library’s website. MobileRead users have noticed that you can no longer get an out-of-state NYPL card, and you have to have an NYPL library card to borrow ebooks. So this doesn’t quite make sense. Maybe the Daily Edition will have an option to wirelessly borrow ebooks from the NYPL, which would be a nice feature.

For current Sony Reader owners, though, nothing has changed, but it’s nice to see library ebooks getting some more attention. For me, library ebooks is the killer feature of pretty much all non-Kindle ereaders. Sony Readers aren’t the only ones that can do this, though. You can find a list of ereaders with short descriptions, including which support library ebooks, in C4’s ereader comparison.

Another press release mentioned “relationships” between Sony and various ebookstores. Hard to tell exactly what those relationships are, except being mentioned in that press release.

Last, Sony announced Words Move Me, a social literary site where you can browse through people’s favorite passages from books, one passage at a time. Prominent ads for Sony are, of course, featured.

So mostly old news repackaged and rehyped, but the release of Mac-compatible eBook Library software is pretty exciting. I’ll be posting a review of it on Friday (presuming, of course, that it’s been released by then).

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