Sony Reader: More U.K. Coverage

A boon for journeys

So here it is. Trim and tanned and primed to hold you to all your resolutions for the new school year. Never quite managed to finish reading your library copy of War And Peace before the overdue fees began to bite? Don’t have a handbag big enough to carry Bleak House around with you? Well, here they both are, in five by seven inches of discreet, overstitched buff leatherette, as part of the 100-book starter library offered by Waterstone’s to buyers of the much-trumpeted Sony Reader.

Ebook: The future of reading?

Martin Ramsbottom, from The Scroll book shop, also in Kirkham, added: “These devices are bound to have some effect on the market.

“But the important thing here is that reading off a screen is not as easy as reading from a book.

“It’s just not quite the same and you can’t take in the whole page.

“Also I doubt many people would want to curl up in bed or in a comfy chair with one of these computer devices, it’s much more personal to have a book.

“It may be a generational thing though,” the retired librarian said.

“They could take off with younger people and get them interested in reading.”

Penguin Targets Sony Reader

U.K. publisher Penguin Books have announced that by the end of the year thousands of titles will be available in the ePub format, suitable for the Sony Reader or Adobe Digital Editions on Windows or Mac.

As reported by Booktrade.info, Penguin’s digital publisher, Jeremy Ettinghausen, said, “It’s thrilling to see so much enthusiastic activity around ebooks, seven years after their first incarnation. Our job as publishers is to make authors’ work as widely available as possible — ebooks give readers greater choice as to how, where and when they buy and read books, which can only be a good thing.”

The Sony Reader is now available through Waterstone’s, a U.K. group of bookshops. Promotion has been restrained so far with nothing to compare with other consumer devices. The approach may be to wait on the availability of more content so the announcements from Penguin and other publishers are significant.

Only 13 per cent want eBook reader

Despite everyone here at Stuff Towers getting in something of a tizzy about the imminent arrival of the Sony Reader, it seems you lot just don’t feel the same when it comes to eBooks.

When asked, only 13 per cent of you say you’d snaffle one now, with a massive 87 per cent saying you’d rather wait until more books are available electronically, or just not bother at all.

E-books don’t furnish a room

The eReader comes pre-loaded with an eclectic selection of 14 books and extracts: Patrick Bishop’s 3 Para, Agatha Christie, a historical romance called The Wicked Earl… The menu is easy to navigate, but problems started when I tried to download something to test its legendary battery life. (6,800 page turns, according to Sony – or, in the new unit of measurement, five readings of War and Peace.) The eReader comes with a CD containing 100 classic titles; but I couldn’t make it work. Was it just me? There not being a 13-year-old boy available, I called IT. They didn’t understand it. I tried Sony’s technical support helpline. “To be honest, it’s the same for us,” said a friendly man. “It’s new…” In the time I spent listening to their funky hold music, I could have read War and Peace five times – in a real book. I could have learned to read, for heaven’s sake.

It wasn’t much clearer at the Gutenberg Project website, where eager readers can download 100,000 books – 25,000 of them free. That is, if they can understand the instructions. The site advises: “Palm OS up to release 4… does not support .txt files stored on internal memory. You will have to convert to .pdb or .prc in order to store Project Gutenberg texts on these machines.” Somebody must understand this, because more than three million books are downloaded from the site each month.

I must address three things here:

Also I doubt many people would want to curl up in bed or in a comfy chair with one of these computer devices, it’s much more personal to have a book.

How many times is that utter bullshit going to be trotted out?

And:

When asked, only 13 per cent of you say you’d snaffle one now

I’d like to know if they ran a poll when the iPod was introduced and what those results were. I remember the iPod intro. The geniuses on the Net dismissed it. Now they cry about Apple’s “monopoly.”

Also:

Somebody must understand this, because more than three million books are downloaded from the site each month.

I’m sorry to read that she couldn’t figure out how to load eBooks onto the Reader. It makes me wonder if she has an iPod. As for Gutenberg … yes, dear, it’s not even simple for those of us who are somewhat techies. And that’s a shame.

Previously here:

Rumor: New Sony Reader + Mac OS Software?
Sony Reader U.K. Coverage

— originally published September 5, 2008 at Mike Cane 2008

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