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The Sony PRS-505 eBook Reader

My friend Elisia first showed me an ebook reader, the Kindle she bought as soon as they came out. The quality of the screen was jaw dropping - it wasn't anything like a computer screen, but instead actually looked like paper. As amazed as I was with the device, I had no intention of buying one. The form factor was clunky, it seemed like a superfluous device, and it couldn't natively display PDF files, which is the format I tend to read (and publish) in.

A couple months later I was wandering around in the Sony Store and I saw their ebook reader, the PRS-505. It had the same amazing screen that the kindle had, but was much smaller, less than a third of an inch thick. When I found out that it could also natively read PDF files I was tempted to buy it, but was still concerned that it was just a useless toy.

Six months later my friend Vince brought a Sony PRS-505 on the trip to Morocco that he joined me on. I found myself asking to borrow it constantly, just about any time he wasn't using it. If he fell asleep on the bus I'd carefully slide it away from his grip and read on it.

Books - from 1,200+ to 30

On Happy Human

Collecting books is easy to do when you love to read and have a one-click-buy option on Amazon. I know, I had over 1,200 books that we had to bring from England to the Netherlands when we moved here 18 months ago. When one bookcase was full, a trip to IKEA later, I had another to assemble and fill.

You can imagine the physical effort needed to move 1,200 books (it was done by professional movers and they made it look easy, but still you can imagine having to do it yourself). Before we moved I had already given away hundreds of the books, and it was a huge task to sort which ones to keep. It took energy to decide, to pack them up, take them to the charity shop and the experience made me finally realise I needed to change my book-collecting habit. I no longer enjoyed having so many books. Instead of admiring the rows of neatly stacked books, I felt the weight of them was tying me down. I was embarrassed when I realised how much time and money I must have spent and felt guilty for giving them away. I mean - why didn't I just go to the library?

It took time, but 18 months later the original 1,200+ books have been whittled down to just 30 and with a new 'one in, one out' policy in place, they won't increase again. The boxes of rejected books are in the shed, labelled and ready to go back to Amazon to be traded in for vouchers (the ones worth selling), the rest will go to charity (and I still haven't joined the library).

Physical books and libraries will become obsolete as e-readers take over and get better and better. When e-readers were first introduced, I couldn't imagine myself enjoying reading a book on one - I had been reading books for years and curling up on the sofa with a mug of tea and a book was (and still is) my idea of a perfect way to spend an afternoon. I liked the weight of a book (if not too heavy) in my hands and the feel of the paper as I turned the pages. Getting a new book delivered was something to look forward to, unwrapping the packaging and hearing the subtle crack of the spine as you open it to start to read.

I eventually embraced the new technology and bought a Kindle (there's nothing wrong with being a late adopter!), and I haven't looked back - I now prefer to read on an e-reader instead of a book. An e-reader is light, portable, with a long battery life and stores hundreds of books. Taking George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-5 on holiday without it seems unthinkable now.

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