Sony Book Reader ?

Anyone got one? Here is a manual linky:

It is not yet available for the Mac OS, so I will not be getting one this trip. I presume this will be corrected. Still, it seems to be thenew toy on all the long-haul flights lately. It is way cool, thin and light.

So what do you all think of them? Ready for prime time?

Looks nice. As soon as someone other than Sony releases it, I may get one for myself.

Looks like Sony has done it again: created great hardware and crippled it by adding unnecessary restrictions in its use.

It’s a book reader! Why can’t they just make it a USB Mass Storage device, as thumb drives and cameras are, and let it read all the common file formats? There is absolutely no reason for it to be restricted to Microsoft, or indeed any specific, operating systems.

Edit: looks like it takes memory cards and can display PDFs and ‘personal documents’. And the cradle has a USB port. Maybe the proprietary software is only for buying books… but I’d like to see a browser or at least a plug-in architecture so that people could add read-capability for their own formats.

IMHO the only thing I can see this being useful for is if you are going on a long, i.e. greater than a month long or so, backpacking type trip. Otherwise, I just don’t see the use. If you are going on a trip shorter than that books aren’t that heavy. 5 paperback books will easily be enough for almost anyone for a month long vacation. I’ve never weighed them, but I’d estimate that 5 books is the equivalent of a pair of shoes in your bag. That’s nothing. Unless you are trying to do some ultralight treking the Book Reader is unnecessary.

You have to look at the disadvantages of the Reader too. For one, books don’t break. Well, at least they are very unlikely too. Drop your Reader? There goes a 300 dollar toy. Drop your book? Pick it up and continue reading. Spill your drink? Bye, bye Reader. You get the picture. The other thing is that books never run out of batteries.

I’d say its much closer to e-jewelry than an improvement over the classic paperback book.

I have a PDA and it has an ebook reader, along with many other functions. It is convenient, because you can carry a library of books around in your pocket. If you carry a PDA anyway, it’s no extra burden to have books on it. You can then sit down to read a page or two whenever you have a minute to kill - it’s a perfect way to plough through a long Victorian novel or two.

But this Sony thing - I don’t see the point in having a gadget for reading ebooks that can’t do anything else.

I think you’re mistaken about the utility of this item.

If I’m on a month-long trip and there’s going to be a good deal of travel time, five books is far from being enough. I read before going to sleep at night. I read in the bathroom. I read almost any time when I’m not doing something directly vacation-y. Add in travel time in cars or airplanes, and in a month-long vacation, and I’d easily go through between fifteen and thirty books. I’ll admit I’m a book-a-holic, but I don’t think it’s a unique condition.

More to the point, though, comparing this book reader to a paperback book isn’t really the point. It should be compared to other formats of reading ebooks. There are already reasons I buy ebooks, not least of which being that the ones I buy are signifigantly cheaper than the hardcover ‘dead tree’ edition that came out at the same time. But the lack of portability does bother me, so the idea of having a reader that’s this convenient is tempting.

I finally got to the Sony bookstore site. The prices of the e-books is darn near the dead-tree editions. Another Sony mistake.

It’s not just a Sony mistake. Most publishers putting out ebooks are putting them out at 70-90% of the dead-tree price. And not always dropping the price when the paperback edition comes out. Both of those decisions strike me as asinine, and short-sighted.

The only publisher I know of, who is also represented in traditional book markets selling 'dead tree editions, that sells its ebooks at what I consider a reasonable price is Baen Books’ Webscriptions. They also don’t encrypt the ebooks - another big bonus.

So, I only buy ebooks from one publisher. But, because of the convenience of buying and the reasonable prices, that one publisher has been getting most of my book budget lately.

Be patient, non-proprietary incarnations will be popping up shortly. The critical innovation here that separates this gizmo from today’s PDAs is the reflected light paper-like display, which makes a spectacular difference when it comes to eyeball comfort when reading text. B&W only but touch-sensitive capable. Suitable for a different range of applications than iPhone/browser/media viewer.

But perfect for reading text and B&W graphics.

Most publishers would really like to stop printing content on paper. Some of you may be old enough to remember when software came with complete printed documentation. I used to manage technical publications for a large software company. Our product came in two big boxes and cost about $80 to manufacture. Customers would order 50 copies and needed a forklift to unload it. We added features and produced upgrades every couple of years, requiring another truckload for each customer. Now, the same product contains at least ten times as much code and is delivered in a Netflix-like envelope (or increasingly, no manufacturing whatsoever: downloaded).

The primary obstacles to this transition have been screen portability, the fatigue problems associated with luminous screens, and the inherent limitations on random access that a single screen imposes compared to being able to ruffle the pages of a book. The first two are now nearly resolved but the third problem remains. For serial content like fiction and certain categories of non-fiction this is no problem, but for reference material it’s still a significant limitation.

Look for iTunes/mp3 style format wars for a good long while to come. But these devices will quickly evolve into thin plastic mats that will be easily portable and utterly ubiquitous.

Paul in Saudi, I worked in Saudi Arabia back when Sony introduced a little gizmo called the Walkman. I had to have one and traveled a long way through the desert to get one. The original boxes had a picture of a cute girl in shorts on roller skates, which had been obscured by black paint to protect the citizenry.

If you’ve got disposable income, get one of these and enjoy the convenience of carrying a lot of content around in a compact package. But you’ll be an early adopter and will consider this an antique very quickly.

As with cell phones vs. land lines, publishers are eager to eliminate the expensive infrastructure but don’t expect them to pass the savings on to us. Indeed, once the convenience of these devices is experienced we’ll be lured into ratcheting up our “cost of living” just as surely as we have been with our phone service. Did you notice that AT&T offers a $240/month call plan for the iPhone?

The Sony Reader isn’t locked into a proprietary format, other than for reading commercial encrypted e-books. But you can buy this thing, use it perfectly well, and never buy an e-book.

It will read Word documents. So right there you could download almost any book from the Gutenberg project, load the text into Word and save it, and then read it on the Sony Reader.

You can read PDFs, which means you can directly read many Gutenberg books - quite a number are in PDF form.

It has a newsreader built in. You can set it up in its docking station and let it pull stuff from all your RSS feeds. So basically you could just grab it each morning, then read the news on the bus or train.

And while I agree that the pricing of their new releases is ridiculous, they do have a lot of books in the Connect Store that are $2.00 to $4.00. They also have some book bundles that can be even cheaper per book.

And those who say there’s no point to it because they can read e-books on a PDA don’t get the point. It’s all about the display. This thing looks as good as reading text on paper. There’s no eyestrain. The words are crisp and sharp. And it’s got tremendous battery life, because power is only used to turn the page - displaying a page consumes no power whatsoever. That means you can be reading, put your ‘book’ down, pick it up a couple of hours later and start reading again without having to reboot, open the document, scroll to the right page, etc. That makes it way more useful as a book. You can just grab it and start reading when you go to the bathroom, or while you’re cooking supper, or any time you’ve just got a minute to sit down. Little differences like that matter a lot.

I have one and I absolutely love it. I am in the military and I deploy a lot so it is very useful. I don’t have to worry about carrying lots of books; with the Reader I have a nearly endless supply of reading material.

The screen is very clear and sharp, just as easy to read as a paper book.

The battery life on the Reader is amazing, if you aren’t listening to music it lasts a very long time before needing recharged.

I’ve bought a few books from the Sony Connect store, but most of what I read is free from Project Gutenberg and other sources.
You don’t even have to use the Sony software, you could just drag files to a SD card or Mem Stick Pro Duo. So you could use it with a Mac.

Check out the MobileRead Forum if you would like to find out more about the Reader.

Yes, the display is the breakthrough in this device.

Just make the docking station work with (at the minimum) Mac and Linux. as well as with Windows, please. And make the e-book purchase site work in all browsers, too. Do NOT make it rely on ActiveX, for instance, because that is specific to Microsoft Internet Explorer.

What other owners have written. Also, you can have four sizes of type for those with vision problems. You can put in your own documents (address book, for example) from Word or just from text files. Doing this, you can pick your own font size.

You can read it vertically or horizontally. It’s much thinner than a book, lighter, and will hold up to 80 books. It is super when waiting in doctor’s offices, airports, or while waiting for my wife who is shopping in stores. Where ever you use it, people will ask what it is, and when shown, they are all enthusiastic.

You can buy it from Sony, but Borders and others are selling it now, some at discounts.

I love it. The only downside is that the Sony book website is the absolute pits, one of the most aggravating and clunky have ever seen, as almost all owners agree. Compared with amazon or Netflix, it is laughable.

Oh, yeah, while it takes PDF files, they are not really that good, and you can’t change the font size, or do much to make them more readable, but hey, it **does **take them.

What many of us do is browse amazon for books in which we are linterested, than go to their site to search for them. To their credit, they send a weekly email with new books that they keep adding at a steady rate.

On the MobilRead site there a huge number of Project Gutenberg books that other readers have tweaked (with suggested software available there) so they are better formatted and can een show pictures.

Speaking of which, you can download pictures to the Reader, albeit only in black & white, as well as MP3 music files.

The e-ink display is amazing, but like a pBook, it looks better in bright light. It is not backlit. There are a bunch of LED clip-on lights that can be used for use in dimly-lit places, however.

It is a great device!

I’ve been sorely tempted to buy one, mainly to read books off Gutenberg. I currently keep a few books on my Treo for when I’m stuck in line somewhere or waiting for my wife while she shops. It works surprisingly well but it would be nice to have a slightly larger device.

$300 is a bit more than I’m willing to spend though right now. Maybe after I get my summer house projects done.