With new Reader, Sony attempts to turn the page

A new Sony Reader hits shelves this week. But Sony faces stiff competition in the e-reader market. 

The new Sony Reader.

Sony today took the wraps off a new e-reader called the Sony Reader PRS-T2 – which, let's face it, makes the thing sound a lot like a Russian-made tank from the mid-1980s. But the PRS-T2 is an admirably full-featured device: witness the svelte, squarish chassis, the nice big buttons (a significant step forward from previous Sony Reader models), a six-inch touch screen with Pearl E-Ink technology, and 2GB of storage. 

The new Reader will include Facebook and Evernote integration, meaning that users can both archive chunks of text and share snippets of their favorite titles online. Sony says the e-reader, which begins shipping today, will retail for $129 at Sony Stores and online; if you're a fan of the Harry Potter series, you can scoop up a free copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as part of the bargain. 

The big question, of course, is how the Sony Reader PRS-T2 will stand up to its competitors over at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. As Bonnie Cha of All Things D points out, the "Amazon Kindle Touch costs about $30 less [than the PRS-T2] and includes text-to-speech technology and a book-lending feature. Meanwhile, the $100 Barnes & Noble Simple Touch has access to a catalog of more than 2.5 million publications."

Earlier this spring, the Book Industry Study Group, or BISG, published a study showing that the Amazon Kindle remained the most popular e-reading device among American readers. BISG put the Kindle market share at about 40 percent, with the Nook under 20 percent. Tablets gobble up most of the remainder, pushing Sony Readers off the chart altogether. In general, BISG predicted, all e-readers could soon be in trouble, as users shift to multi-use tablets instead of dedicated e-readers. 

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