Sony is set to take a punt on consumers switching to digital reading. They are hoping that the take off will be as quick as the take up of iPod Music.

The Company will launch later today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a portable e-reader device. The new gadget will let users store and view digital books and will sell for around $600 which is about the same price as an iPod.

During a sneak visit to the Sony stand a large e-reader device poster showed the device. We have leant that Sony has agreements with at least three major publishers to sell digital book downloads on its Sony Connect online store similar to the way Apple sells music. To date several people have failed to deliver a consumer acceptable e-reader device device.

Business Week has questioned as to whether Sony is up to the challenge? Sony’s late arrival to the digital music business and its proprietary approach let Apple dominate a category Sony once owned.

In 2004, Sony launched an e-book reader in Japan that also failed to take off. Called the Librie, it won plaudits for design, but its high price and draconian antipiracy technology — users could only “rent” books from Sony for 60 days before the tomes deleted themselves — scared off consumers. Now, in the U.S., Sony has a second chance to build a market for digital books. While few details about the new reader are available, it’s fair to say it will be an impressive piece of gadgetry.

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