A real page-turner? No, but it may change the way we read

An electronic gadget capable of storing hundreds of downloadable "ebooks" that could do for the written word what the iPod did for music is to be launched in over 300 stores across Britain

For months, rumours have raged that the Sony Reader – already a hit in America – will be coming to British shores.

Waterstones announced that it would be taking pre-orders from today, ahead of its sale in 205 stores from September. It will also go on sale at an additional 130 Sony stores. Tens of thousands of ebooks are expected to be on offer on Waterstones' website to coincide with the arrival of the Reader. Downloads will be cheaper than their physical equivalent.

The biggest publishers are already said to transforming their material into ebook format, including Penguin, Random House and HarperCollins, after taking its lead from America's success. Random House has seen a 100 per cent increase in its year-on-year sales of ebooks across the Atlantic.

It is the first time an electronic reader has been available on such a scale in this country along with book downloads, and it could mark a "tipping point for ebooks", according to industry experts.

Borders launched its own electronic iLiad in May for £399, initially in seven stores, but many felt that such a gadget would only be a commercial hit if sold at a far cheaper price.

What makes this launch significant is the considerably lower cost of the Sony Reader, marketed at £199, twinned with the easy availability of downloads.

Smaller in size than a hardback book and written with E Ink to resemble a traditional book page, it can store up to 160 ebooks.

But while Ian Hudson, president of the Publishers Association and deputy chief executive of the Random House Group, regarded the Reader's UK launch as an important moment, he thought the ereading revolution would not happen "overnight".

"My view is that this offers a real opportunity for consumers who won't have to pack 10 paperbacks because now they can carry around 150 ebooks. In my view, this is the best piece of equipment out there. But research has found that people have a high emotional attachment to physical books... so the industry is likely to be slower to change than the music sector," he said.

A hundred "classic" ebooks such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations will be on offer alongside contemporary titles such as Richard Branson's Business Stripped Bare, Jodi Picoult's Harvesting the Heart and Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

Is the ebook the future?

YES:

Fiannuala Duggan, director of Random House Group Digital

"The first thing you notice is that there's no glare. I wasreally surprised by the screen which is not like any other, there's no reflection so you can read it sitting in the sun. I was surprised because it was so simple to use, you just press a button to move to the next page. The screen offers a very immersive reading experience. It also looks nice. It's got no flashing lights and shiny bits so it doesn't feel gadgety. It's a calm, sophisticated kind of device."

NO:

Tom Tivnan, features editor at The Bookseller

"I was not completely blown away. Aesthetically, it does the business: it is sexy, slim with a surprising bit of heft. The reading experience is surprisingly pleasant. The screen is nothing like a computer monitor, there is no backlight and you need other sources of light to read it.

There are technical aspects that are annoying. Flipping between "pages" is maddeningly slow and when you move between pages the entire text disappears and the next page reappears, which for some reason I found disconcerting."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas