Monday, September 27, 2010

Ohhh Shiny! Sony Pocket E-Reader

I have a shiny new toy!

After months of research and careful deliberation, I finally purchased an e-reader. Ever since I attended an afternoon of seminars put on by CAL about e-readers, e-books and the future of reading, I had pretty much made up my mind that I wanted one. Then came the decision making. Unlike the US where it seems there is already quite an established market for and supply of  e-readers, they are still a relatively new device in Australia. Before the Kobo became available at Borders, the other models I had seen were either incredibly high-priced, or didn't have a lot of information and support available for users.

My own reasons for wanting to purchase an e-reader were:
♥ I have roughly a two-hour commute each day and this is when I do a lot of my weekly reading. Unfortunately I often finish a book halfway through my trip which is annoying, and I don't like to carry around more than one novel in my bag at a time (current handbag already weighs a lot and won't close)
♥ I often do manuscript reading and assessment for the literary agent I work for. In a paper form, they are difficult to read without being at a desk and are impossible to transport around with you. If I read them on a computer, I find I'm usually trying to multi-task and the reading process suffers

My limitations when looking for a model:
♥ I really wanted to be able to look/try it before purchasing. I had though about buying a Kindle or something online, but big purchases like that make me nervous, and I much prefer to buy them in person and know that once I've handed over my money, I will be walking out of the store with something tangible.
♥ I didn't want to spend more than $250. I put some of my tax return aside specifically to buy an e-reader and don't have a lot of extra cash anyway.
♥ I wanted to be able to read different formats - particularly PDFs and Word for work purposes
♥ I wanted it to be easy to use and there to be resources available for the product and support if needed.

I came pretty close to buying a Kobo (the price and the 100 free books it comes with are pretty tempting), but then heard that the Sony Readers were finally coming to Australia so I thought I'd wait a little bit longer (at least to check them out in person). I'd heard a lot of good things about the Sony models, especially from people in the publishing industry, and read a lot of very favourable reviews. Even the 'negatives' were things that personally didn't worry me (like no wi-fi). After checking the Borders website all week to see when they were in stock, I hurried down on Friday and was stoked when they had one on display! I had a quick play with it and it seemed to be as awesome as I'd hoped, so I took the plunge and bought it.

Sorry I tried to flip the image about five times but it doesn't seem to want to shift. Grr!
I went for the Pocket edition as I wasn't too phased by the extra features of the Touch. Plus, at $229 the Pocket sat nicely in my price range. I'd also intended to buy a case for it whilst I was there, but they hadn't finished unloading them yet and didn't have a pink case yet (which I kind of had my heart set on. Sad, I know!)
The size of the Sony Pocket Reader compared to a paperback novel - my current read Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati
I've only just started to play around with the model, but so far all is good! It comes with a USB cord to connect the reader to your PC (or Mac) for updating and charging your reader. The set-up was quick and simple, and the instructions relatively easy to follow. The only (minor) issue I've noticed so far is that some of the instructions are still American/European specific and they aren't completely up-to-date with the way e-books are sold in Australia. The Library software is quick to set-up and installs when you first connect the reader to your computer. It's fairly basic (and resembles an early version of iTunes), but has been easy to manage this far.

Argh, why must you rotate?? The Pocket Reader charging.
I haven't purchased any ebooks yet, mostly because I can't decide what to pick! Choices (at least for Australian readers) are still somewhat limited and I've noticed that prices of ebooks here aren't completely consistent - an issue which was discussed at length by panelists at CAL. As I'd attended that seminar, and from an agent's point of view, I can understand a big part of the price issue is ensuring that authors are paid correctly for their work and are receiving a fair royalty, but I do think that at the moment, the price of ebooks may put off some potential users (I was quite surprised at the cost of a few titles - especially as the cost was significantly more than a paper copy).

I did, however, download a handful of titles from Project Guttenberg - which is a fantastic resource that provides free digital copies of titles that are out of copyright. So far, I've got Jane Eyre, Dracula and Frankenstein - all titles I've wanted to read for ages, but have just never gotten around to. I also put on a few files from my own computer, like a manuscript in Word to see how the format read on screen (especially as this was a criticism that came up a lot in reviews for various readers - that Word documents and some PDFs were rendered unreadable due to formatting).

A docx Word file on the Sony Pocket Reader - looks pretty good to me!
 I was very happy with how Word documents (well, the three I tested) came up - as this was one of the main purposes I'd be using the e-reader for. So yay! I suppose that maybe some files won't come out as nicely, especially if they use odd fonts or tables or something, but it seems suitable so far.

Anyway, I've probably rambled for long enough. Overall, I'm very pleased with the quality of the product, and how easy the software has been to operate - though it has only been four days since I originally purchased it. Once I purchase an ebook through a retailer, I'll let you know how the process went. I feel like I should also add that despite this purchase, I am and always will be a huge advocate of the paper book and in no way do I think that e-books will ever replace them (the same day I bought this, I also spent $50 on an order from Book Depository). For me, the two can happily co-exist.

Now a quick question  - do you own an e-reader? If so, which one? How often do you use it? What has been your best ebook purchase so far? I'd love to know - and feel free to ask me any questions about the Sony Pocket Reader if you wish.

Helpful links for buying an e-reader:
♥ A Wikipedia comparison table of e-book readers
♥ Another comparison of different models of e-readers
Good Reader is a useful resource, especially the forum, to get information, reviews and personal experiences with a variety of e-readers.
More comparisons and reviews - I found the video reviews to be especially interesting (a great way to see how the product works and important details like lag time and battery life)


Megan said...

Fantastic post - you've sold me, I want one!

Also, is your camera a Canon? I had similar problems with the flipping!

You have to change a setting on your camera. It doesn't do anything bar flip the photos right, you don't loose quiality or anything else.

Girl Friday said...

OMG, Megan you are a legend!!! Yes, my camera is a Canon, thanks so much for the info and the link (the stupid thing was driving me nuts), that's a huge help.

I've been really happy with it so far - am still in the 'honeymoon' phase and haven't given it heavy-duty use, but it's been ace!

Megan said...

I had the same problem! If you check some earlier posts I have cap's much the same as yours: "stupid thing, can't figure out how to flip them!" lol

True - can you do another post in a month or so and give the non-honeymoon view?! :P

Girl Friday said...

Haha, yes of course, will defs do a follow-up! Am looking forward to see how well battery life holds up with regular use - shall be interesting.

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

Great post! I've been thinking about buying an e-reader too, and the Sony pocket reader (in pink) is top of my list at the moment. I think I might invest soon! I hope it works out well for you! :)

Aimee said...

Ooh, I'm jealous! Looking forward to the follow-up post :)

Chachic said...

Congrats on your new e-reader! I decided to get the wi-fi only, graphite Kindle since it's only $139 but I won't be getting it until mid-October. My co-worker and I ordered it online and her relatives from the States will bring it here to the Philippines.

Hey, have you heard of NetGalley ( You can download ebooks for review over there.

Girl Friday said...

Leanna - ohhh jealous! I would have loved the pink one, but for some reason they only stock the silver one in Australia

Aimee - hehe, thanks - yeah can't wait to see how well it holds up

Chachic - Ohhhh, thanks for letting me know about Netbooks - looks great!!

Rhiannon Hart said...

Oh I so want an eReader. Thanks for the congratulations too!

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