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.
The final straw in my decision to buy it was the battery life. It uses no power to keep the screen on, and only a tiny bit to flip the page. All told you can read about seven thousand pages before you have to charge the battery. That's a good twenty or thirty books, which is at least a good two months or so.
The one advantage Kindle has over the Sony is the wireless book buying feature. This wasn't a big deal for me since I spend so much time out of the US, if I was someone who bought a lot of books and lived in the US, I might be tempted by it. On the other hand, the Sony is considerably smaller, can still read purchased books, and supports PDF.
Another big plus to the Sony is that you expand the memory with an SDHC card or Memory Stick. That allows you to carry thousands of books in a package far smaller than any normal book.
As you can probably guess, I wholeheartedly recommend the Sony PRS-505. I've had mine for less than a week and I've already read two books on it. It's really a pleasure to read on.
One warning: don't get the Sony PRS-700 without seeing it first. Unlike the PRS-505, the screen is a bit foggy.
Here it is on Amazon (ironically).
@darren: try putting them on an SD card and going to a Borders, pop in the SD card and see if you can open the files. I just got a PRS-505 and haven't bothered with the SD card yet, but it's worth a try.
I have a lot of ebooks which i downloaded from the internet for free but the problem is that most of them are text books with diagrams e.g electronic text books.I am about to buy a sony ebook reader and i need to make sure i can get these books on the ebook reader with all the diagrams displayed correctly. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks
The PRS-700 screen is foggy! Glad we didn't get that then. I still can't believe the battery life- I have not charged mine since Morocco.
Funnily enough I also did a review comparing the PRS-505 and the Amazon Kindle just the other day (link in my sig). The PRS-505 totally eclipses the Kindle 2 in my book.
BTW did you ever figure out the collections thing?
Looks like the new Kindle DX has native PDF support.
Where do you find all your PDF eBooks?
What has kept me from purchasing an eBook reader is I'm not a fan of DRM, but a library of PDF eBooks would change that. I buy music from AmazonMP3 and Amiestreet.com instead of iTunes for the simple fact that they're normal MP3s, with no proprietary technology.
Just bought the 505 as well from the Borders $200 promotion. It's nice! Now need to spare some time to read on it :)
I have the kindle 2 and I love it. The .pdf thing isn't a big deal. The kindle cookbook explains how to convert almost any text file to .azw (kindle native file) for free. I spend a lot of time traveling outside the US aswell. Many books I download for free from websites with books in the public domain. Pirated books can be converted and read on the kindle. Books from the Amazon store can be purchased through the internet on a computer, then transfered to the kindle via the USB connector that comes with the device. I have not seen the Sony e-book reader, but the negatives you described about the kindle are not big issues. I also bought the extended 2-year warranty for $70. This also covers 1 accidental damage/drop and break. Super convenient.
Thanks to my Sony ebook reader I've been reading a lot lately. I've been fortunate to have been recommended great books, so now I'll pass along the favor and recommend them to you.
Gang Leader for a Day
I first heard of Sudhir Venkatesh's work when I read Freakonomics. The gist of it is that he decided to study gangs, so he headed to Chicago's most dangerous projects and wandered through them. The gang members caught him, held him overnight, and rather than killing him, allowed him to tag along for SIX YEARS while he studied them.
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.