Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.
Last week''s Switched On discussed some of the similarities and differences between Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader. Where the Kindle really sets itself apart, though, is more in the buying of books than reading them..
The sleek Sony reader costs $100 less than the Kindle and relies on PC software for book purchases.The model for the Sony Connect integrated software and bookstore was the pairing of the iPod and iTunes, a system that has worked so well for Apple's digital music players that the Cupertino-based company made it the basis for all media downloads with an inherently connected device, the iPhone. But just as Apple brought the sensibility of desktop software to cell phones, Amazon has brought its legacy of convenient online retail experience to bear on its reader.
As with its Web-based store, Amazon has stressed the value of a broad selection of content. This is critical in a device that features access to books (or commercial video), since consumers don't have easy and legal access to this content the way they did with CDs for the iPod. The Kindle store has about 90 percent of the New York Times' top 100 bestsellers, and over 90,000 titles in all. This dwarfs the selection available in Sony Connect bookstore. And the purchase process is as smooth as a paperback book cover. Amazon has been such an innovator in online commerce that Apple licensed its patent for one-click purchases on its Web-based store and in the iTunes store.