Sony Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a pocket-size electronic book reader for less than $200, which the electronics giant touted as the "most affordable dedicated reading device on the market."
Dubbed the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, the new device has enough internal memory to hold about 350 books, comes in three colors -- blue, rose and silver -- and has a 5-inch "electronic ink" display, which shows dark gray text on a lighter gray background. It does not, however, have an expansion slot for a memory card to increase the number of books it can carry.
For that, Sony said it would introduce a $299 touch-screen device with a 6-inch display and slots for Sony's Memory Sticks or SD cards.
The Tokyo-based company said it also was dropping the price of bestselling and new-release titles sold at its website to $9.99 from $11.99, matching the price of digital books sold on Amazon.com.
Digital book readers are hot sellers, even in this frigid economy. Amazon.com Inc., which released its Kindle 2 device this year, followed by a large-screen Kindle DX, has kept a lid on how many Kindles it has sold.
Analysts estimate that the online retailer has sold 1.5 million of the popular readers since introducing them in 2007. But even Amazon is apparently feeling the competitive pressure. Last month it lopped $60 from the price of its Kindle 2, reducing it to $299. The DX, with a larger, 9.7-inch screen, has a price tag of $489.
Many expect sales of electronic book readers to surge in the next two or three years as other companies jump into the action.
Barnes & Noble, which recently launched its online digital bookstore, said it also will sell Plastic Logic electronic reading devices when they become available next year.
Other players include South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. and Japanese computer manufacturer Fujitsu Ltd., which already has released a color version in Japan.