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Sony: e-books more popular than print in five years

updated 03:25 pm EDT, Thu June 3, 2010

Sony sees digital reading inevitably taking over

E-books will be the dominant form of reading within five years, Sony's digital reading head Steve Haber predicted late Wednesday. He had estimated three years ago that it would take 10 years for e-readers to overtake print but now believes that was pessimistic and would take half as much time. Digital text has already passed a point of mainstream acceptance and can't help but get more important than paper, he said.

If publishers have been blindsided, it was because paper had the luxury of being unchallenged almost since its creation where music and movies had their environments disrupted earlier. "You haven't had a paradigm shift in, what, hundreds of years," Haber explained to the Telegraph.

The company prefers to work on dedicated devices like its Reader series for now, but Haber recognized that multi-role devices could work. He even revealed that Sony had been studying iPad owners' habits and that 11 percent of American owners bought it for reading first. Sony's executive also repeated the camera metaphor used by Amazon's Jeff Bezos to defend the Kindle, where some may work with a relatively basic camera on a general purpose device while others need a dedicated point-and-shoot or SLR for its quality.

Company-wide, Sony has taken a cautious approach to getting into the multi-purpose realm and is using Apple as a measure of interest in multi-purpose tablets before it joins on its own.

By Electronista Staff



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    Three years ago he predicted ten years. Now he predicts another five. That's eight altogether. How is eight half of ten?

    Seems his original prediction is still pretty much on track.

  1. ilovestevejobs

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    Joined: Feb 2007



    yeah right. Since when did Sony have gotten anything right lately? They should just roll up and die, along with Steve Blow Jobs. World will be a better place

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

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    Joined: Oct 2004


    good news/bad news

    on the positive side, e-books will outnumber traditional books, on the negative side, people don't read.

  1. hamletsdead

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    Joined: Feb 2010



    I don't mean to bag on the e-book -- I've been a Kindle user since it first appeared -- but I think his timeline is way too abbreviated. E-books are cool, they are great on the train and for vacation travel, but nothing beats a new hardback. The feel, the look, the smell, the visceral memory every time you pass it on the bookshelf or pick it up that reminds you of where you were (or who you were) when you read it -- why would anyone give all of that up for the convenience of an e-reader? E-readers are convenient for not lugging around 500+ page tomes, but the reading experience (even on the iPad) is nowhere near as intimate, personal, or -- frankly -- meaningful as it is with a well-made cloth book. Just go pick up one of the presentation copies of Martel's Life of Pi if you are a doubting Thomas. It feels weighty and meaningful, full of promise and life in the way that the sterile text of an e-reader does not. Cloth holds out the promise of romance, can be given as a present on birthdays and Xmas and special occasions, and encourages browsing at your local library or bookstore in the way that e-books don't. Browsing the e-catalogue for a new book is a somewhat sterile experience; it's not like wandering the aisles pulling random titles to see if anything strikes your fancy. So while I have no doubt in the continued strength of e-readers and e-books, and their growing presence in the world, my bet is that it's going to take at least a generation of readers for them to become dominant. Have to get the kids hooked on them instead of printed matter for the sea change to occur.

    That's just my 5 cents, of course,

  1. facebook_Samuel

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    Joined: Jun 2010


    Books are not technology

    Book sales will always be steady rather ebooks will offer a more convenient way of reading. In order for Haber's comment to be true you have to convince all readers that ebooks are the way to go. People are resistant to change and it will happen slowly. Technology on the other hand changes rapidly because there's always a better alternative. Sam from

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