Reader Wars: Sony vs Kindle

Nothing makes me crazier than wasting hours on the phone with a customer service representative.  Especially when he/she finally discovers that the corp has a fault with their e-store, which they attempt to blame on an external publisher.  Well, almost nothing makes me crazier.

But first: the hardware.

Touch is cool.  Sony’s e-reader has s shiny pen that lifts neatly out of the side and allows you to navigate or take notes right on the touch screen.  That’s truly great hardware, but unfortunately that’s one of the very few things that Sony does better than the Kindle.

I’ve got them both in front of me.  The Kindle has better contrast, sharper text and less glare from the screen.

But the real difference is content.  The Reader Store’s featured fiction today is mostly around $13, where as at Amazon’s Kindle Ebook store everything is $9.99 US or less, including the Man Booker 2010 prize winner The Finkler Question at $7.84US.  With the Canadian dollar essentially at par, and soon to be worth more than the US dollar if the pundits are right, this is superior pricing.

Kindle also wins for freebies.  Be it a mystery novel or the complete Sherlock Holmes, we’ve downloaded a lot of free books from the Kindle Store that were later offered at regular pricing.  Nothing is free at the Reader Store.

I admit that the e-pub format for the Reader is open source, which means there is content out there for free if you want to go sifting around the internet, but one stop shopping fits better into my schedule than visiting a dozen sites.

Apple’s i-pod took off not just because it was a spiffy gadget, but because the i-tunes store provided cheap, legal content–and lots of it.

Which brings me back to Sony’s Reader store.  The last book I tried to buy from them wouldn’t download even though I had clicked on Canadian edition.  It took two one-hour-long phone calls over two days for a customer service rep to announce that the publisher had done something wrong and the book wasn’t available to Canadians yet.   Now I bought this book because the Reader Store sent me an e-mail showing off the deals of that day.  Sure, maybe the publisher F-ed up, but the Reader Store needs to take responsibility for their content rather than just shrug their shoulders.

It took another phone call a month later to have the charges (that they claimed wouldn’t go through) reversed on my credit card.

So in my books (pun intended) Kindle wins over the Sony E-reader.  Kindle even has a better name.

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