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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7595/the-trouble-with-sony-reader/

The trouble with Sony Reader

December 29, 2007 by

At some point in the last 12 months, a Mises.org reader wrote to say thanks again for the hundreds of books on the site, whose value has vastly increased thanks to the Sony Reader, which easily imports PDFs and allows you to carry around a big library in a thin, 6×9 package.

Sounds great! Sadly, however, I’m not impressed with the Sony Reader that I received for Christmas. The processor is way too slow to permit the books to be used to reference. The memory for quick access seems super small. You can’t quickly move from book to book or within books. Even page turning is slow. You can’t search the books. And while I guess this goes without saying but it only stuck me once I started to use mine, you can’t copy and paste out of the text into anything. All you can really do is stare at the text, mostly in a slow paging sequence, one book at a time.

I can see how this might be valuable if this is the way we mostly read–the way people navigate the latest best-selling novel–but I have my doubts that this is the way most of us use books. We like to read to have instant access to the whole book, so we can turn from this page to that, go back and refresh or memories or skip ahead. This is especially true of non-fiction and reference books, which are precisely the kind of books I would tend to want in digital format. If all you want to read is a novel, get the novel!

I can’t say that the screen is very clear either. And if the text appears too small on one page, you can magnify but only one page at a time. When you click to the next page, the text is small again and you have to increase it again. After awhile all these limitations add up to a gizmo that isn’t all that helpful, and, in fact, seems like it is about 10 years behind the times.

I really wanted to like the Sony Reader and I really wanted to hear that Mises.org pdfs would be even more valuable thanks to this toy, but it just doesn’t seem to be there yet. Maybe in a few years…

{ 11 comments }

chris p December 29, 2007 at 10:53 pm

I agree that the Reader is not suited for reference material. As for fiction, I think it works exactly the way I read. It goes front to back well. The delay everyone complains about is in no way severe or even really noticible when turning pages. It takes as long as it would take to turn a page.

The best thing is, I can enlarge font. Good for us with eye disorders. Add the fact that third-party freeware allows me to convert those old MS Reader files I had lying around. I love it.

Dani Nedal December 29, 2007 at 11:50 pm

The Kindle, the e-book reader developed under Amazon, seems to have corrected all those flaws. I haven’t tried it myself yet (it’ll be a while before it gets down here to Brazil), but it seems worth a look.

I believe the only problem is how to convert pdfs to the kindle format.

Cheers.

Social Critic December 30, 2007 at 6:14 am

“I can’t say that the screen is very clear either. And if the text appears too small on one page, you can magnify but only one page at a time. When you click to the next page, the text is small again and you have to increase it again.”

The review is factually inaccurate and unfairly negative.

The screen is remarkably clear.
When you magnify the the screen (select a larger font) on a given book, that become the default for that book; you only have to make the choice once, even if you jump to other books in between.

Steven Ng December 30, 2007 at 8:11 am

The Sony Reader sounds very much like a first generation device. It’s a shame that since Sony is on their second release, the didn’t address these issues. From what I’ve heard, I would have to agree that the Amazon Kindle involves too many steps load a PDF. We’re going to have to wait for a better portable reader.

Robert J Brager December 30, 2007 at 11:17 am

Bezos claims that they’re working on the pdf situation, and I’ve seen that expounded upon to say that Amazon is developing a means by which the Kindle can recognize pdf files either by external software for conversion or an update to the machine. Barring that, currently, Amazon accepts pdf file submissions and converts them, free of charge (the “too many steps” alluded to in another post), to a Kindle compatible file, but I’ve been led to understand that there are some bumps in that process.

I’m withholding purchasing a Kindle until that is resolved – which I have little doubt it will be. Once the pdf hurdle is cleared, the Kindle will be, I daresay, a perfect machine.

The Mises Institute has done so much for economic education, the Kindle will do so much to further assist that generous dissemination. Have patience. The Kindle’s strides in the fight against eyestraining glare is enough cause for optimism alone.

Aakash December 30, 2007 at 11:16 pm

I am wondering – what is the major benefit of reading books using a PDA-type device, rather than reading the actual book?

I suppose if you purchase the book in “e-” format (which I assume comes in the form of a huge PDF file), it would definitely avoid the printing costs… I know how much that can add up to, after being CR Chairman for three years… Even now, I include this piece in almost every direct-mail fundraising letter I send out, and just that depletes ink cartridges, rather quickly; fortunately, generic ones are available at good costs, through Amazon.com and other websites. Come to think of it, I did start sending some fundraising letters in “e-” format as well, in part because of that, and due to postage costs.

But is the price of buying the “e-” version of the book typically less than the cost of buying the actual book? If you buy the book through a “third-party merchant” on Amazon.com, or through eBay or it’s Half.com service, it can be quite cheap.

I suppose there is the portability factor… Is that what drives the e-book trend?

For me, I’m afraid that spending so much time behind a computer screen has made this a moot issue. I don’t know if I’ll be able to use a PDA to read entire books, until I get a better glasses prescription (even then, I don’t know… I feel a headache coming on at this moment, in fact). It’s hard enough playing Solitare or The Sims.

Keith December 31, 2007 at 7:01 am

I think the key word here is “reader”. If you want to cut and paste, or jump around to several references, then I think you need a different tool, like a computer.

I love my eReader. I can carry around in my pocket all those pdf’s Mises has so nicely made available, and read them at my leisure. How else could I conveniently read the Bastiat Collections? It’s a little slow, but the new version is faster. My only complaint is there isn’t any Mac software.

Mike January 3, 2008 at 11:21 am

Darn, that’s a shame. I was thinking of buying one to load all of the great books available here on to. I’m burning my eyes out and suffering tremendous headaches reading them on my pc. Oh well, maybe the next release will be better. And btw, this is not meant as a complaint in anyway, I LOVE all of the great stuff made available here. Thanks.

BlackVoid April 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

Convert the PDFs to LRF format with BookDesigner and speed will improve vastly.
For more information how to do this, search the forums at mobileread.com

BlackVoid April 27, 2009 at 7:25 am

For a more computer-like reading device, get the IRex Reader. The Sony Reader has limited capabilities and it is really not suitable to use for studying. For pure reading the Sony Reader is excellent though.

MuchUpside December 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

In my experiene, the EPUB format is the best for these portable readers. PDF is more of an image file and doesn’t always re-flow in an efficent way for continued reading. The eink on these readers makes reading for extended periods of time much more comfortable than something like an ipad or computer screen…plus they are much lighter and therefore easier to keep with you. My recommendation for Mises.org denizens (like myself) would be the Aztak EZReader Pocket Pro. It has the most flexiblity in handling more non-DRM formats than any other reader, plus it will read some DRM formats as well. It reads: ADE (Adobe Digital Edition), PDF, TXT, PDB, DOC, HTML, FB2, LIT, MP3, EPUB, PRC, WOL, CHM, PPT, TIF, PNG,GIF, RAR, ZIP, DJVU, JPG, BMP. As much as I enjoy and support Amazon.com, I hate and reject the concept of Digital Rights Management as applied to the Kindle product.

I purchased the Pocket Pro with hopes that I could keep with me the hundreds of amazing PDF versions that Mises offers to further advance my education in liberty (thank you again Mises.org). However, I found that the PDF format is difficult to navigate and reflow. The Pocket Pro handles PDFs better than the Sony, Kindle or others I’ve tried, but it is still not what I was hoping for. I was elated when I saw the addition of EPUB to the Mises site and I eagerly add every new title that Mises publishes.

In summary, EPUB is the way to go with these portable e-readers. Thanks again to Mises.org for beginning to make these formats availible. Keep up the great work!

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