This link has some information on the one I have, the REB1200.
My wife gave it to me for Christmas about 3 years ago. At the time, it cost about $350.00
They were available for about 3 years, and then RCA decides the market just wasn’t there and quit making and supporting them.
They were a pretty cool item. The display size was a little larger than a standard paperback book, so it was much nicer than using your PDA.
You could buy and download books, magazines, newspapers, etc. For the periodicals, you would connect to the bookstore through the internet and download the current issues of the ones you had subscriptions to.
They were actually pretty nice to use to read. And reading in the dark in bed was cool! You could hold the book in one hand, hit the page button with your thumb, and go for hours completely one-handed.
Color screen, full text searches, auto bookmarks, highlighting, dictionary, were also nice.
The battery in the 1200 would run about 10 hours on a full charge, and would re-charge in a couple of hours.
If you had purchased more books and periodicals than you had memory for, you could store the excess on the Gemstar site on your own “bookshelf”. You needed a password to access it, and you could upload or download any books you owned at any time.
I believe the bookshelf website is due to shut down this year, but I have enough memory in my book that all my purchased books fit in the unit, so I never actually used the online bookshelf.
Although RCA didn’t initially support it, some of the users found a way that you could convert text or doc files to a format that could be downloaded to your book. In this way, pretty much anything you could get in electronic form could be loaded on your book and carried around. Once RCA quit selling books, they released their programs to create and load your own content, so it’s even easier to do now.
I have about 30 or 40 full novels and a few tech manuals and miscellaneous stuff that I converted on my reader. With the 96 meg memory card, I could probably store three times that much easily.
You can still buy used REB-1200s and other e-book devices. I’ve seen them go for anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on condition, memory card, charger, batteries, etc.