The Sony Reader is set to go onsale next month for £199 inc VAT. It will go on general sale in the UK from 4 September.

The Reader is a handheld electronic device that is designed specifically for bookworms who want to be able to take whole collections of books with them in a single convenient device.

The Sony Reader went onsale in the US last year and met with much acclaim. It has an onboard memory capable of storing up to 160 books and is able to accept Secure Digital memory cards for additional storage.

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Challenges in creating such a device include providing a backlit screen that is clear enough for comfortable viewing and prolonged reading but that is both portable enough and has batteries that can last as long as the reader’s attention span.

A Sony spokeswoman told us that the Reader has a low-power battery that will last long enough between charges for someone to read War & Peace five times over – a claim we defy anyone to disprove.

Unlike a rival e-book device sold by Amazon, known as the Kindle, which supports over-the-air downloads, Sony Reader customers will need to transfer e-books from their PC or laptop to the device using a USB cable.

Yesterday, Sony announced the imminent UK launch of its much-anticipated Reader e-book device. Its initial deal is with Waterstones, which began taking pre-orders for the Sony Reader at its e-books site this morning.

Waterstones says the Sony Reader will also be available in selected branches of its bookshop chain. Customers pre-ordering the £199 device before 3 September will be given 500 Waterstones Reader points (equivalent to a £5 discount) to put towards e-book purchases.

Waterstones already has a considerable archive of bestsellers and business-focused titles that can be bought as e-books. From the wording in yesterday's Sony Reader announcement, it is gearing up to bolster the available titles by some margin as customers clamour to get hold of devices that can read them.

Sony, meanwhile, says it is opening up its Sony Reader sales model to allow more bookshops to sell the device. Until this week, customers in the US had to buy titles from its own e-book store.

"This upgrade opens the door to a whole host of paid and free content from third-party e-book stores, websites and even public libraries," said Steve Haber, senior vice-president of consumer product marketing for Sony Electronics, told the Associated Press.

Click here for our first look review of the Sony Reader.