Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sony Reader arrives in Exeter

As predicted, both Waterstones have stocks of the Sony Reader. Not much excitement though. There were no queues, no special events. The Apple Store would have made a bit more of it I think but maybe consumer electronics is a bit unusual for a bookshop.

Other e-book readers are available, but not in Exeter shops. The Amazon Kindle is not expected anytime soon outside the USA. It is pretty much a mobile phone so loading files in is fairly easy. After a few hours trial at Life Bytes I find that downloading titles is not too hard. The Adobe Digital Editions library shows the Sony Reader in the Libary where "drag and drop" works ok. There is also eBook Library software supplied by Sony with similar functions, also a Reader for the content that works on the computer.

The Sony sortware is only for Windows. Also there is no credit I can find for Linux, though the Wikipedia claims that is what the Sony Reader is using. The impression is that the complexity is all in the loading of content. The Reader itself just runs. There is a well hidden hole in the back for a reset, something we will never need.

I was worried about how to create an ePUB file but it turns out that (Rich Text Format) RTF works ok. The public information states that Word files are accepted but it seems they are translated to RTF. I saved some text from Open Office
as RTF and it displays ok. It would still be good to find out more abouthow to go from open documents to ePUB. But meanwhile PDF is ok for the Digital Editions on most computers and RTF is ok for the Reader. Sorry if the words are overlapping in meaning. It may make more sense later.

WHSmith are stocking the iLiad online but no promotion in the Exeter shop. This has wifi like the Kindle and also a keyboard. It is useful to make notes on a text or order more titles but at the moment the Sony Reader seems ok just as a Reader. The only interaction I have found is the option to add a bookmark. There could be notes added on another device later.

Also it works for sound and viewing photos. The greyscale is lacking something but it will be interesting to see what combinations become available. The books could come with photos and sound.

These are still early days. There will be devices later with more direct links to wifi or whatever links to content. But this is an interesting phase. A laptop with wifi is enough to speed things up but it seems to go against the point of an e-book. I think I will next take just the Sony Reader and find out what they thnk at WHSmith, the Apple Store and the Phoenix. The Phoenix Arts Centre usually attracts Mac fans so I don't suppose they will like the Windows bias. Steve Jobs has suggested that eBooks will struggle as many people have moved on anyway to sound and video. The Sony Reader is mostly text in shades of greyso this may explain the limited interest.

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