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Sony Reader fails to wow them at WOTS

In addition to the numerous author readings, signings, and stacks of books for sale at yesterday’s Word on the Street festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 people to Queen’s Park in Toronto, there was a new technology on display for book lovers to test drive: the Sony Reader. According to an article in the Toronto Star, WOTS director Alexandra Moorshead extended the invitation to Sony because she felt the device, which is capable of holding the text of up to 160 books and is currently the only e-reader of its kind available in Canada, would appeal to the “avid readers” who patronize the annual festival.

The good news for bibliophiles who still enjoy the experience of riffling the pages of an actual book is that, according to the people inteviewed for the Star article, it appears that she was wrong.

Samantha Lamb enjoyed a few minutes of rest in the shade with daughter Sadie, 3, as they contentedly sat surrounded by a dozen books they had just bought.

A few minutes later, a woman dressed as a cellphone walked by, encouraging her to sign up for a new cellphone book club concept.

“You can win a digital reader if you sign up,” she said, unaware that the incentive did little for these two traditionalists.

“As soon as she had the ability to turn pages, I think that is what made her love books,” said Lamb, of her daughter.

“I don’t see electronics having the same kind of magic.”

Other traditional complaints about e-book technology were trotted out, including the fact that it can’t be taken into the bath.

To their credit, Sony representatives were apparently not promoting the new reader as a replacement for traditional books, but rather as a complementary technology.

Johnny Lam, the product manager for the Sony digital reader, said the company doesn’t think books will ever be replaced altogether.

“A lot of customers still like the true essence of reading page by page,” he said.

Instead, this is being marketed as a practical solution to lugging around textbooks, and a way to survive commuter boredom.

For a detailed look at the Sony Reader and its closest competitor, Amazon’s Kindle, watch for the November issue of Q&Q, which will be available on newsstands mid-October.