Book lover + nerd = ebook

Yesterday, I bought a Sony Reader – the electronic book reader that uses E Ink’s electronic paper.  The electronic paper display on the reader is very nice.  It uses encapsulated white and black pigments that can be brought to the surface of the page.  The only power consumption involved happens when you make a change.  Once the change is made, it requires no power to keep the image.  The upshot is that you’ve got a very long battery life, a decent contrast ration and a display that can be read in any light – in fact, the more the better since it’s reflective (like paper) rather than backlit (like a monitor).  Moreover, because it’s not backlit, it’s easier on the eyes when reading for a long time.  I read for a couple of hours last night and it was no different than reading a paper book.

The Sony Reader hasn’t gotten quite the notoriety of Amazon’s Kindle, even though they both have the same display and the Sony came out a month earlier.  I suspect that’s because Amazon hyped the Kindle and after all, it was tied to the largest (or is it second largest?) book seller in the world.

So, why did I go with the Sony and not the Kindle?  A handful of reasons:

  • Price – the Sony is $100 cheaper.  I’m hoping that this isn’t the last version of electronic paper to come out and that things will continue to improve.  That being the case, why should I spend the extra money.
  • Linux use – okay, technically, the Kindle doesn’t require any computer to use it, but I suspect that I would want to attach it to a computer anyway.  If for no other reason than to save the transfer cost for anything I send to the device that isn’t purchased from Amazon.  Beyond that, libprs500 is very nice software.  It handles file conversions, can download RSS feeds and convert them to the reader’s format, etc.
  • Books – I almost certainly won’t buy electronic books for the reader.  Not that it’s not a good device for reading, but I’ve got two concerns:  1) I don’t want the books I buy (or music for that matter) to be locked up by DRM software, things change quickly and I want my books to follow; and 2) the price point for electronic books isn’t right.  Why would I pay the paperback price for an electronic version that has essentially 0 duplication and distribution costs?  Instead, I’ll probably start piping the newspaper to the reader and will catch up on a lot of the content of Project Gutenberg that I’ve been meaning to read.

Last night, I added about 100 books and short stories to the reader.  I think that’ll be enough to keep me for a while.  🙂

Happy reading


  1. Luis said,

    April 29, 2008 @ 10:27 am

    Oooh… do keep us up to date on how that works out. I’m very curious. (He says as he sits next to a cardboard box with 25-30 books in it to be shipped to California for summer reading.)

  2. Eunice said,

    April 29, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

    i contemplated the sony reader for a lot of reasons, but mainly one, which is, it enlarges the font of any book/paper/media. there are lots of wonderful paper books that i would love to read but put me to sleep because the font is miniscule and too closely spaced together for me to enjoy it (i think everything should be in harry potter font. really.) but i’m not crazy about books not really being owned by me.

    that and i’d love not to have to drag my laptop everywhere to read my nytimes. 🙂 let me know if you still love it or find other great uses for it.

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