In an effort to compete with the Kindle, Sony has announced the availability of several major newspapers and periodicals through the Reader Store and for wireless delivery to the Sony Reader Daily Edition. Though the Daily Edition was announced back in August, it wasn't until the other day that Sony finally revealed the publications that would be available for the device.
"We obviously fell behind Amazon," admitted Sony CEO Howard Stringer. The addition of this library of periodicals to the existing ebook content offered through the Reader Store is obviously their attempt to catch up.
Available periodicals will include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Reason, the New York Review of Books, and several more. Even more will be announced over the coming weeks and months.
A few publications are already available online: the aforementioned Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Financial Times. The latter three are available for subscription at $9.99 per month while The Wall Street Journal is priced slightly higher at $14.99 per month. I checked the subscription fee for The WSJ against the print and digital options available direct from the paper online. The Sony Reader editions are priced quite a bit higher than the current options, though it doesn't appear to offer any exclusive or enhanced content.
Price is still a major sticking point for me with ebooks. Contrast, for instance, the gorgeously typeset, elegantly designed hardcover of Chip Kidd's novel The Learners with the dull EPUB version available through the Reader Store. Both editions cost around $18, though the hardcover offers far more value.
Since a chunk of that $18 price tag includes the printing of the book, it seems to me that the ebook version should be priced much lower. Similarly, since reading the Journal on your Sony Reader defrays the printing costs (and thus is greener, a fact Sony really ought to pushing as a selling point), shouldn't the subscription price be lower?
With newspapers across the country folding, the ebook delivery format is—alongside existing web delivery options—a good alternative to traditional print. When it comes to reading a book, I still vastly prefer the printed page to an ebook, but newspapers seem like a pretty terrific candidate for the format. As these readers become more ubiquitous, developments like this may be what finally saves the ailing print news industry.