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Sony Reader Now Available

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the my-book-is-out-of-batteries dept.


Yaksha42 writes "The Sony Reader, which debuted at CES in January, is now available for purchase on the Sony website. The six inch screen uses E Ink, rather than an LCD, to display the text, reducing strain on the eye while reading. While you can buy books on Sony's Connect site, you can also load eBooks and other text onto the Reader in a variety of formats, including PDF and TXT files. It also comes with the ability to receive newsfeeds, display JPG images, and can play unsecured MP3 and AAC music files. Additional information can also be found on the Learning Center site."

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stfu (-1, Troll)

Fido 14 (1005097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210897)

stfu bitches. slashdot fags. gnaa rocks. you guys suck cocks.

hi i want to send hearties out to timecop and gnaa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211023)

been very busy trying to get money and stuff ok ttyl love h3n

The bookstore has more than just "regular" books (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210903)

For example they have manga too(albeit a small selection right now). If Sony doesn't fuck it up totally it could be an interesting distribution model. But given their history in this type of thing, I don't have too much confidence.

Re:The bookstore has more than just "regular" book (2, Insightful)

parislemon (1003144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210919)

I'm kind of excited about this thing but at $350 you could buy A LOT of paperbacks before making up for the cost. []

Re:The bookstore has more than just "regular" book (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211017)

eh... at say $10 a paperback, you could buy 35. project gutenberg alone has 19,000 books, add to that innumberable articles available online, etc. etc. i think it's a good value.

Re:The bookstore has more than just "regular" book (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16210955)

Yeah... They even have downloadable rootkits.

At $350 USD, it's already doomed. (4, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211059)

I predict that the Sony® PRS-500 Portable Reader System® featuring innovative E-Ink® technology will meet the same fate as the Kamen Segway® Human Transporter featuring the innovative S-Feet® and S-Walking® technologies.

Good books need good typography (5, Insightful)

DeborahArielPickett (336742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211173)

I do hope that the supplier of the ebooks for this device take a little more care than do the current crop of ebook producers. Most of the books I read now are ebooks through eReader or Fictionwise, and they often are so poorly converted into electronic form that it hurts to read them.

The one I'm currently reading is obviously an OCR job, because there are occasional soft-turned-hard hyphens peppered through it, and some lines where the wordspacing was evidently tight in the original, leadingtoareallylongwordin the ebook. Another one used hyphens for dashes too-which is extremely jarring in a proportional font-as this sentence demonstrates. Quotation marks and apostrophes are usually just the ASCII ones, which really isn't very professional-looking in print.

Then you see situations where the culture shock just got too much for the converter and they gave up. The sample book in the SonyStyle web page, The Da Vinci Code, has some pictograms in it. Those probably just get included in the ebook as a low-resolution bitmap. They certainly did on my copy from Fictionwise. I've lost count of the books which have hard-coded page references ("see page 321"), which is useless considering that pagination is up to the device itself. Forget about tappable hyperlinks; I've only seen one such ebook in the dozens I've read.

Don't get me wrong. I love my ebooks, and they compare well to Australian dead-tree books in price. But there's more to releasing an ebook than spitting out a plaintext file. If the parent poster is right about manga, hooray, finally. But history doesn't make me optimistic.

PG (1, Insightful)

vonFinkelstien (687265) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210905)

Imagine a Project Gutenburg DVD loaded on one of these.

Re:PG oblig. (2, Funny)

RMB2 (936187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211231)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these.....

eBooks still to expensive! (5, Insightful)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210911)

See, I love the idea. I even might be willing to pay $350(!!!) for the damn thing. But the eBooks are still too damn expensive! Looking at Sony Connect shows, for example, "Marley and Me," "I Feel Bad About My Neck," and "Ricochet" as a 'bundle' for $42.03 as opposed to the list price of $53.89. *WHAT*?! With music I still think iTunes et al are often overcharging, but at least music has an inherent production cost, even if digital distrobution becomes cheaper. Don't lie to me and say books have the same production cost when distributed digitally and I should save a 'whopping' 11 bucks and change. Books distributed digitally become (almost) pure profit in a way music or movies can't, simply due to the nature of having to produce the damn things.

Even the 'better' deals (Angels and Demons for $5.59) still seem absured.

Jeeze, Sony. It's so like you! Create a really cool product, technologically, then have shit media for sale. And I want so hard to like e-readers...


Re:eBooks still to expensive! (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210931)

Then buy your ebooks as PDF's.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (1)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211089)

Where can you do that?

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211133) and many, many others.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (3, Informative)

eviljav (68734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211389)

Try fictionwise for pdf versions of (some) books: [] , and select "multiformat". I've bought a lot of books through there.

Creating still toO expensive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16210967)

Well since you brought the issue up. Why don't you tell us how books and music are produce and please don't leave any of the dollar amounts out. I'll check your handiwork tomorrow.

Re:Creating still toO expensive! (3, Insightful)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211129)

Ignoring for the moment the actual sentence structure, I'll assume you meant, "Yes, but books aren't free to produce either - how to you want to pay people to create things?"

What I meant is that while movies and music require physical equipment to produce - microphones, instruments, video equipment, etc - books require a single person and - if you really want to go bare-bones - a pen and paper. Even a nice computer is going to be cheaper than a recording studio rental for any significant period of time. So, while movies and music can reasonably say "Sure, distributing digitally means *distrobution* costs go down, production costs are still expensive! We'd love to sell you cheap movies and music online, but we can't afford to!" Now, they may still be lying (about wanting to) but they can make that argument and not be complete liars. Once you lose the cost of distrobution for books, on the other hand, you've cut out the vaaaast majority of your built-in costs. Obviously, you'll still want editors and (presumably) type-setters and layout designers and such, and you should probably pay the author at some point, but the assumption with books was that you were paying a good chunk toward the physical 'stuff' the book is made out of. With that cost gone, it would seem books should be dirt-cheap, but clearly they're not...

All I'm saying is that it looks like, once again, media distroution companies are trying to wring every last cent out, rather than selling at a point that is both profitable and reasonable.


PS - In all fairness, it may be the book publishers, not Sony, who is requiring the consumer to get screwed. They may have deals about minimum book prices or some such BS. I'd tempted to blame Sony, but the main point is that *someone* along the line - Sony, book publisher, etc - is being a greedy bastard and it makes me sad because the tech seems so cool.

Re:Creating still toO expensive! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211301)

You left out one very important part. The type of book. An encyclopedia will require both more, and a different set of people than say the latest romance novel. Plus cost is also a function of demand. That's why a book for pediatricians is going to cost more than say a mass-produced dime store novel.

"All I'm saying is that it looks like, once again, media distroution companies are trying to wring every last cent out, rather than selling at a point that is both profitable and reasonable."

"Profitable" and "reasonable" aren't the same thing. For some things, "profitable" and "reasonable" are close enough to satisfy the majority. But don't assume that will always be the case.

Re:Creating still toO expensive! (4, Insightful)

tapin (157076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211353)

books require a single person . . . you'll still want editors and (presumably) type-setters and layout designers and such

Ah yes. Slashdot: Where uninformed opinions, flawed logic and factual inaccuracies are mere fertilizer to the flowerbed that is yet another ignorant rant.

(PS: "distribution".)

Re:Creating still toO expensive! (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211363)

As I posted somewhere else on here, look at the prices of out-of-copyright classics. Not super-special collectors' editions with gilded pages, but just plain paperbacks and hardbacks.

The actual price of manufacturing in distributing ANY book is probably just south of that price. So, under $2 for a mass-market paperback, and that's if they don't go with the very cheapest paper, and maybe $5-$8 or less for a hardback.

Which means that the author, the store you buy it from, and the publisher's staff are taking a total of over 75% of what you pay for most books. 25% or less is the cost of physically manufacturing the book.

That, or all the big chains are selling huge numbers of classics at a loss for some reason, which I doubt.

Hell, in the early and mid 90s Wal-Mart used to sell classics in paperback format, mostly adventure-type books, Robinson Crusoe and crap like that. I think I have a copy of Dracula from them, somewhere. Anyway, they were 50 cents a piece, IIRC, and I guarantee that both the printer and Wal-Mart were making money at that price. They were, however, printed on really awful paper. But it goes to show that the costs for physically producing a book can be extremely low, indeed.

Re:Creating still toO expensive! (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211391)

you're not taking into account the IMPOSSIBLY WASTEFUL distribution model for books. The distributor sells the bookstore X copies, and the deal is that after some time the bookstore can rip the covers off the ones it haasn't sold and sell them back for some large fraction of the original sale price. These books are then, I presume, dumped into the recycling vats. So that $4 book also has to cover the manufacturing costs for the other 9 copies that didn't sell.

ps: I'd welcome any corrections on this, I just have this info secondhand.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (1)

Nik13 (837926) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211105)

Same thing here in Canada. Last book I checked I wasn't saving 10%.

But that alone wouldn't be too bad, as one can likely find some other stuff to load it up with.

What I'm worried about is how good the software will be to read PDFs and such (not like the whole page can fit on the tiny screen, and what about graphics? etc). They say you should resize them yourself if you want them to look better on the tiny screen - not something I like to do. And if there is conversion required, how good will that be (for say, CHM files perhaps - which are used by many publishers). If it doesn't display the PDF & CHM files in a readable/useful format, then I really have no use for it.

Battery life seems OK, build quality might be good(?), but memory? I'd expect more than 64MB at 350$ - I have some PDF files bigger than this! One will need to spend more on a memory card for it to be useful. And like they say, it plays music, but it's not like there's much space for that either along with your book(s). I'm only hoping it's not their own weird memory card format, but this is Sony we're talking about... And seemingly it uses it's own proprietary/closed BBeB format for some things (and can be DRM'ed) - I like my information to be Free (as in speech).

Anyhow. I really wanted one of those a couple years ago, but at 350$ + memory card + shipping + tax (over 500$ Canadian), and coming from Sony - the rootkit guys, I think I'll skip. Hopefully someone else comes up with a similar device.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211127)

BOOKS are too expensive. New ones, anyway.

You know those Barnes and Noble hardback classics? The ones that are often in the $6-$10 range? Dostoevsky, Melville, that kind of thing?

They are still making a profit on those!

Now, think about the paperback classics you see around sometimes. Not uncommon to get one for $2 or $3, not on sale. And they're still making money at that price!

Think about that the next time you're about to pay $14 for a trade paperback, or $9 for a normal one. Hell, I saw a shitty, mass-market paperback of Thucycides "History of the Pelleponesian War" that was selling for $14. Not even a trade, printed on awful paper, and with print so tiny as to be headache inducing. But it's a new(ish) translation, so they charge that much.


I've completely stopped buying new books, except out of clearance bins and off of bargain shelves. I can get a standard hardback of almost any book for as much or less than it'd have cost me to buy the mass market paperback, and I often get super-nice hardback versions of classics for what I might have paid for a new trade. The new book market is ridiculous.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211149)

Haha, butchered the spelling of "Peloponnesian". Sorry. Heh.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (2, Informative)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211291)

alt.binaries.e-book might have content. I've heard. But don't download it.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211367)

What you are really paying for in a sense are the ones that don't sell well. It's easy to say just print the ones that sell well but that's often determined by the reader. A fair percentage loose money. The film industry has been trying to cut out loosing films so we get remakes and sequels. I'd hate to see publishing go through the same process. Actual printing isn't that expensive if you are printing large volumes. Transportation and archaic things like taxes on inventory eat up a lot of the costs. Ebooks are cheaper to distribute and avoid the inventory and transport expenses but there is some greed obviously involved. If they can get people to pay list prices for ebooks there's a nice profit to be had. Are they getting rich off ebooks? No, for the simple reason so far the sales had been so poor most are loosing money on them. If they were selling like hotcakes traditional print would be fading like CD sales or worse. Publishing has a much narrower margin than you might think on most books. They'd love a way that would avoid the risk of printing books. Printing 10,000 hard covers is a big investment and a huge risk. Ebooks scare me in a sense because printed books can last hundreds even thousands of years if they are on archival paper and stored properly. Ebooks will have a short life span simply because formats and readers change. Vinyl records can still be played decades later but several intermediate formats are already gone and getting hard to play. A glass cylinder recording might be playable ten thousand years from now. How long do you think your MP3s will be good for? If you care for a 35mm print it'll still be in playable shape a hundred years from now. A good share of my DVD collection is already dodgy on some players. All my VHS with Macrovision are trash. Several died after the first time or two I played them. A lot of history is being lost to shortlived formats.

Re:eBooks still to expensive! (3, Informative)

Knothere (1006355) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211401)

Check out places like I've bought quite a few of thier ebooks the day the hardback was released 5-6$. Seems like the old publisher, may he rest in peace, really wanted ebooks to take off. They also have a free library with a lot of titles. Go, read, feed the addiction.

It's great (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210923)

for some things, like manuals in the field or for work elements or long bus rides and such, but not for casual home use. If I'm gonna read a book, I like to sit in a recliner and actually turn pages. The only thing I would use it for is for traveling or having reference on the fly.

Re:It's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16210939)

Yea it's great until you find the rootkit you get from Sony...

Re:It's great (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211109)

Or it breaks and you have to file a BBB complaint (or threaten to) to get them to fix it.

It's great-Siphlonurus rapidus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211055)

"The only thing I would use it for is for traveling or having reference on the fly."

A fisherman aye?

Wow... (1)

joetheappleguy (865543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210935)

A recent Sony product I actually want??

That's unpossible!

I need to see one live, but I like what I see so far - The ability to also display pdf, word and txt are a (finally) smart move by Sony, and the mp3 AND AAC capability is a nice bonus.

The GUI for the Connect app looks awful familiar though...

Re:Wow... (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210951)

The GUI for the Connect app looks awful familiar \though...
The display, based on technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff E Ink Corp., is composed of tiny capsules with electrically charged particles of white and black ink. When a static electric charge is applied on the side of the capsule that faces the reader, it attracts the white particles to the face of the display, making that pixel show light gray. Reversing the charge brings the black pigments floating through the capsule to replace the white pigments, and the pixel shows as dark gray.

Re:Wow... (1)

Mr. Jaggers (167308) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211245)

Yes, but the poster was refering to the GUI on the Connect app, not e-ink technology; you know, the Sony "iTunes" for books...

Why does it look familiar? BTW, if it's an itunes reference (thus making me look dumber than I am, due to my clarification above), then I should note that I've never actually seen itunes. I just know what it's supposed to do.

Re:Wow... (1)

dryekindrew (1002653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211337)

I hope the GUI of the Connect app is better than Sony's Sonic Stage (Sony's connection software that comes with their Walkmen). It's painfully slow, ugly and non intuitive, and it handles lower quality mp3s very badly. Not to even mention DRM.

Re:Wow... (1)

ArghBlarg (79067) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211051)

Let's starting counting the days until they offer a firmware 'update' [] that turns off the free PDF/txt/MP3 reader bits :-p. I'm sure they'll wait six months or so, until they think they've got everyone hooked..

... and no Ogg! (1)

Markus Registrada (642224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211243)

And, of course, no Ogg/Vorbis audio support. Next!

Seriously, this thing cries out to be hacked. Although one with stylus input would be a lot more useful, hacked.

Re:Wow... (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211091)

A recent Sony product I actually want??
That's unpossible!

I was thinking the same thing ... then I looked at the specs:
System Requirements
Operating System: Windows® XP (Home Edition/Professional, Media Center Edition, Media Center Edition 2004, Media Center Edition 2005)

Thanks for the DRM Sony (2, Interesting)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210947)

From Sony's ebook store []
We will offer titles on a pay-to-own basis - similar to the way a user expects to purchase and own other digital media today. The user will have the option to purchase this content and read it on up to 6 different activated devices (computers or Readers).
So I'll own the books so much that I get to put them on a whole six different player. Thank you very much Sony, your generosity is awe inspiring.

Re:Thanks for the DRM Sony (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211399)

I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but i dont see my self ever needing to read something on more then 6 devices. hell, just my desktop, laptop, and reader would be enough. Would you have 6+ copys of the same (real paper) book?

DRM (0)

openright (968536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210961)

sure, they market pdf, and txt for now, but the goal of most media companies is to use only DRM, so the media would be re-purchaced more often.

Low quality, high price? No thanks! (0, Troll)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210963)

I hate to say this, but the reader looks horrible. First off, the quality seems low. It certainly isn't stylish, and you aren't going to see people pulling them out in public to show off their gear (like iPods were back a few years ago). The material also looks poor.

Hrm, so no color screen.. and the pics don't show much backlighting. So no really good things to say so far. At first glance I'd say it's a flop.

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16210997)

Of course it's not backlit, you idiot. It's an e-ink based reader. And this is for reading, not for showing off. If it works, why do you care what it looks like?

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211003)

... this is the first time ive posted because of the shear stupidity of the parent post.

Its not supposed to be a full color backlit screen... its supposed to resemble printed PAPER!! You wouldnt want a backlit screen in this application because of the eyestrain associated with reading off a bright screen. Its supposed to essentially be digital paper.

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (2, Interesting)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211027)

Let's see, mod a troll, or respond... Never the smartest one in class:

Clearly you've never seen e-paper in action. No backlight, stupid, it's just dark print on a white sheet. Just like... paper, just as easy to read.

Glad to see Sony has finally released one of these in the States. Been out for years in Japan, though more expensive.

None of the reasons you list will be the downfall of the device. It'll be two things: Sony's crappy Connect service. Sony has never been able to make any software worth a damn. And two: The same reason ebooks have never gained popularity, namely they're too expensive for what you get, and there are not enough titles to make it worth buying a $300+ device.

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211145)

The lack of interesting titles may be an issue, but I doubt that the main usage would be reading books on it.

I am considering buying this thing just to be able to read documents (pdf docs, presentations etc) on a very easy to use "tablet" that has excellent contrast and battery life (expressed in page turns instead of minutes/hours). Instead of resorting to printing them on paper.

One thing that's intriguing is how does it support the Microsoft Word format. Any idea?


Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211317)

No backlight? That's a deal breaker for me, I'd like to be able to read in bed in the dark.

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211033)

Oh wow! Why didn't the Sony Marketing Division consult you first?

Re:Low quality, high price? No thanks! (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211177)

Hey, it is made out of E Ink. It is a type of refelctive display. The next big thing in the display industry. It is suppose to mimic paper, hence no back light. That is why you turn on the light to read a book or ebook. It is much more natural and easier on the eyes. Check out []

You did not RTFA,or even the intro on top!

Sony's not locking it up.... (1)

buxtehude (965185) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210973)

This is a nice move from Sony. Something they make that isn't solely operable with their own proprietary formats a la Betamax or Minidisc. Even though encouraged to purchase from Sony's store, it sounds as if you can load any sort of printmedia you desire. Though some recently published books are still too expensive, Project Gutenberg opens up a whole world of classical literature. I can't really justify the pricetag, but as soon as it drops into a reasonable range....maybe.

Academics (5, Insightful)

quarrelinastraw (771952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210977)

This looks great for people in academics. I read 100 pages or so per week of articles in PDF that I may never read again. Reading them on an LCD screen is a huge pain, so I usually end up printing them out (and of course using both sides and recycling). This would save me a lot of paper.

Re:Academics (2, Insightful)

RMB2 (936187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211261)

You're absolutly right; I spend thousands of pages on technical documents. It would be unbelievable to have them all on a card. I could have all my research sharing flash memory with my music.

One important thing that sounds to be missing... I wonder if there is any way to annotate on the documents? While I read papers, I usually mark them up, references and formulae and such. Is there an E Ink equivalent?

Re:Academics (1)

adrianmonk (890071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211269)

I read 100 pages or so per week of articles in PDF that I may never read again. Reading them on an LCD screen is a huge pain, so I usually end up printing them out (and of course using both sides and recycling). This would save me a lot of paper.

Yeah, but $350 worth of paper? :-)

also technicians (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211295)

datasheets are always PDFs.

I have a serious hankering for this device. I can fit a giant shitton of PDFs on a 1GB memory stick. As long as I'm not forced to run some shitsack software to get stuff onto it, I may actually get one of these. I guess it's a choice between this and a Wii. :(

Finally.. (3, Informative)

anethema (99553) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210981)

I've been following these e-ink readers since I've first read about the technology. I'm an avid reader and re-read all the books I enjoy many times. Having all my books available on a SD card in a reader which lasts like 20 books worth on a single charge, all while looking a lot like real paper is like a dream come true for me.

The main competition to this sony reader seems to be the Iliad from I-Rex. I think it is a much nicer reader for a couple reasons.

It has a nice page turn interface, it has a proper paperback A5 sized screen, and runs linux. There has already been quite a bit of hacking on it. Can code your own readers for various formats etc.

The downsize? It is like $850 instead of $350 of the sony :(

Guess I'm still stuck waiting till the iliad comes down in price or another reader comes out at a lower price point. These things are way to specialized for the price they are demanding.

Source code to GPL'd components (3, Informative)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210985)

Is on Sony's Source Code Distribution Service: ry3.html#2 []

The older, Japan only model is there too. As well as various other interesting products. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211375)

Please enable Cookie and JavaScript to download modules.

What a bunch of complete wankers! Apparently they expect me to send this cookie with my request...

function SetCookie () {
    var expdate = new Date();
    expdate.setTime (expdate.getTime() + (365 * 24 * 60 * 60 * 1000));
    document.cookie= "cesp_module_download=Approved; path=/Products/Linux/";

Can I be bothered opening cookies.txt and adding this cookie? No, I don't think so. Why don't Sony (consumer) make the source code availiable without demonstrating their famed outright contempt for customers?

Fuck you Sony!

It's not LCD, dumbass (2, Insightful)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16210999)

The disconnect for e-book isn't LCD eye-strain. It's the tactile connection to a book.
The ability to tote a book anywhere and curl up and read it: either under a tree or in front of a fireplace or at a friend's house...the actual weight of the book, the thickness of the pages....thats a book. Thats why people buy books.
Not the lack of eye-strain.

Re:It's not LCD, dumbass (3, Funny)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211157)

are you sure? That sounds very quaint to me, but merely habitual, like saying people would never switch to computers because they like the weight and motion of a typewriter.

Re:It's not LCD, dumbass (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211273)

Of course typewriters and computers are mostly used for work, whereas most people read books for pleasure (even the pleasure of learning, outside of an academic setting). So the "habitual" part of the effort is quite understandable - people don't normally run the bulls in Pamplona for the sporting value, even though jogging or riding a bycicle could potentially be considered "quaint" as well.

In any case, we've been using books for almost a thousand years now. They're not going anywhere. Readers like these will be niche solutions for a long time to come. Still, it's good that the technology gives us the choices.

Re:It's not LCD, dumbass (2, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211277)

Seeing as books/writing are artificial constructs to begin with, that seems to me to be a pretty shaky point.
What's to stop you curling up with this reader?

.txt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211019)

Just to clarify, this can read .txt files? (a la Gutenburg?)

If so, I've been waiting for this for so damn long.

Just say no. (3, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211025)

I like being able to share books with friends. I doubt that Sony's going to allow me to lend my book license to someone else, nor am I likely to find electronic books in a used bookstore. Libraries probably won't be allowed to offer them, either. It's easier to just say "no" and rely on the old battery free paper versions. At least no one can deny that I "own" it if it's sitting on my bedside table.

Just say online books. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211191)

"Libraries probably won't be allowed to offer them, either. "

The Indianapolis Public Library offers online electronic books.

"It's easier to just say "no" and rely on the old battery free paper versions."

It also represents a good solution against piracy. Certainly better than what the MPAA/RIAA are offering.

"At least no one can deny that I "own" it if it's sitting on my bedside table."

You own the "original book", not the words on the pages.

Re:Just say no. (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211227)

Good point. I can't speak for anyone else, but the majority of the books I read are from the library. Without some way of "borrowing" a book, I would be extremely unlikely to be interested in this.

That said, there really isn't any huge obstacle in the way of a library system for these. They already have a system to "authorize" a fixed number of players, so it doesn't seem like it would be that much more of a stretch to allow libraries to buy licenses to have the books checked out. The library would only be able to check out a certain number of copies per license they own, so it really wouldn't be any different than a library is now. If the file format is going to get hacked, then the books will show up online anyways. If it doesn't, then it would pretty much work the same as a normal library. Either way, it doesn't increase the publishers' risks, and it would greatly benefit the device makers.

Hopefully, they will consider setting up such a system, but I'm not optimistic. After all, when's the last time Sony acted rationally.

Re:Just say no. (1)

takev (214836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211407)

Don't worry they will plug that analogue hole when everyone is reading digital books.

$ 349.99? Yeah no. (0)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211085)

Especially considering that I can get a new laptop for $399 without having to play with rebates...
Sale is dead now, but wait a week or so and there will be another []

Really. Is this really a choice that you have to think about?

Re:$ 349.99? Yeah no. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211211)

Yeah? Let us know when you find a 9 oz laptop with a e-paper display that can last 7500 pages between recharges for $399.

Jesus, what a retard.

Yeah, becuase that's exactly the same thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211229)

The Sony Reader weighs 9 ounces. The laptop you linked to weighs 85 ounces. Also compare size. The least you could do is compare it to a Pocket PC, which might be considered a similar item. A laptop is in a completely different category.

Yeah, I'd probably rather put the $350 towards a laptop, too. Or a nice Pocket PC. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's fair to compare it to those items. I'd also rather put the $350 towards upgrading my desktop PC for gaming, or a new TV, or a hundred other things.

If you have the disposable income, this is a fairly nifty item that fills a niche in the market. I can think of a lot of situations where this would be handy to have, especially when combined with free eBooks from sources such as Project Gutenberg.

Who buys this thing? (1)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211103)

It sounds to me like they have, once again, given it far more features than it needs, resulting in, as usual, exorbitant prices.

For example, playing music seems a secondary feature here, but they found it necessary to do so resulting in the need to give it a load of extra hardware. If I was in charge, I would have left it at pictures, PDFs and plain text.

Their extra features also make this device hopelessly complicated looking, which can easily scare away lots of potential customers.
Why not just have a single port to plug into the computer... maybe a flash card slot somewhere? And what's with all the buttons? I can't see an eBook reader needing more than 4 (and preferably on the side), and it should really be going with a touch-sensitive approach if they want to capture the "book" feel. On here I see 10 mysterious number buttons, a Next / Previous button, a Size button (or are those just lights?), another Next/Prev thing written beside a shiny metalic circle (what does that thing do?!), a giant logo consuming valuable space which, from my perspective, could be used for more screen, a Mark button (bookmark, I'm guessing?), and another 5 very out of place buttons which seem to be specifically for controlling a menu.

Re:Who buys this thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211215)

Actually I'll bet that all of the extra features like playing music were possible without any extra hardware. The processor was probably designed for music players (and they probably chose to use it because it was cheaper than an ARM core without an embedded DSP).

There are a lot of buttons, but more screen space and touch sensitivity would only serve to drive the price higher.

Shipping On or Before October 31 (1)

Time Doctor (79352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211123)

Does not mean "now available".

Re:Shipping On or Before October 31 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211349)

Mod parent up - very valid point! "Now Available" is very much an overstatement.

Re:Shipping On or Before October 31 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211405)

Mod both down! It said "Availabe for PURCHASE"

PDF-s !? (0)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211161)

I'm truly disappointed at Sony for supporting proprietary formats like PDF, instead of introducing a better, mandatory *Universal E Book* format that any Sony Reader can open!

Oh btw, maybe their marketing isn't totally worthless if they offer more than 250 star trek books [] to their early gadget adopters. It's kinda obvious, but it might as well work!

Welcome too the future, btw! Party at my house.

Simple benchmark for consumer morality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211165)

"Does what I am about to do involve giving money to Sony?"

'Nuff said. []

Can you imagine.... (0, Offtopic)

sfeinstein (442310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211187)

...reading an article about Beowulf clusters [] on these things!!?!

(it had to be said)

CHM (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211189)

I wonder if they will end up supporting Windows Help format CHM files. I have a vast library of PDF's and CHM's. I would get this device if I could find any info that it supported CHM :/

I have been wondering when a device like this was actually going to see the light of day. I look forward to the day when I can take my entire library on a device like this... and afford it.

Now how much would you pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211193)

Don't answer yet, because the next 50,000 buyers to call in and order gets a free Sony Root-Kit at no extra charge!
Hurry. Supplies are limited!

Before We Get More Comments... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211195)

About how you can get cheap laptops or PDA's, let me remind you of why this device was made: eye strain! Staring at a screen is like staring at a lightbulb, a dim one but a lightbulb nonetheless.

But it's not a reeeeeallll book! (4, Interesting)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211209)

I do virtually all my reading on my PDA (Palm T3, 1/2VGA) and have for the last couple of years.

This Sony device has some of the same advantages; potential for large number of books in hand and ability to buy books online at any time.

However, it still misses some of the point of an e-reader vs a dead-tree book!

Portability: it won't fit in my shirt pocket like the Palm does. Why is it the size of a dead-tree book? Because that's what people who haven't used ebooks much think that they want!
The paperback size is a compromise between having enough words to balance the effort and inconvenience of page turning, and having a reasonable thickness for an average-length book. When turning a page requires just a minimal thumb pressure, fewer words per page is less of a consideration.

Backlight: Sure, it shortens the battery life, but being able to read in bed without the light on is great. Or in any other environment where the light levels are low enough to cause your mother to worry about you going blind!

Dictionary: being able to tap on a word on the screen and have a dictionary entry pop up is so useful, especially with obtuse and erudite writers. I always _mean_ to go look up words, but with ereader and a 150,000 word dictionary loaded, I actually _do_!

Availability: my PDA is a general-purpose device and I use it as an alarm clock, an organiser, an MP3 player, a movie viewer, a calculator, a map (with BT GPSr), a note-taker, etc., etc. Because I use it so much, I always have it with me. Because I always have it with me, I always have my current book(s) and magazines available for those unexpected spare moments (or hours!) Since even a long novel is rarely more than 3-400kB, they really don't make much of a dent in a 1GB SD card.

I often hear fellow bibliophiles say that they wouldn't like an e-book reader because they really like the smell and feel of real paper, and the tactile experience of turning pages, and so on.
I imagine that their great-great grandparents thought that automotives were never going to be popular, because people would miss the feel of the reins and the clip-clop of the hooves...

Re:But it's not a reeeeeallll book! (2, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211259)

Ian raises some points, but I have to disagree...

(1) Yeah, it's big, but if it's popular I'm sure you'll see variations in multiple sizes from multiple producers. Also, I don't think your PDA has 20 gig of space. Also, the Apple Newton was rather large, and there are people who STILL swear by it.

(2) I don't think you can put a backlight on an e-ink display. Even so, it'll be of high enough contrast to read in most situations you can read an ordinary paperback book. You could always use one of those little LED book lights, and you wouldn't burn the main batteries either.

(3&4) I don't think it'll be long before people start hacking this doohickey and turning it into a general-purpose computer. I'm pretty sure the concepts will eventually merge and you'll have a reader that'll also function as a PDA.

Re:But it's not a reeeeeallll book! (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211409)

I do most of my reading on a PDA too (Sony nx80, because the jogdial is a must-have for ebook readers, IMHO) and while it's immensely useful for tech docs, it's not something I can read for hours. Maybe you have younger eyebones than me, but after 30 mins or so, I have to give my eyes a break for a while.

I do agree that I'd like to see something smaller, but I guess I'd have to actually see how it looks and feels in person. If the device is decently durable and I can throw it onto a table like I would with a (paper)notebook, I don't mind a larger format. It'll make for less scrolling around.

What about images? (2, Interesting)

ofprimes (174237) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211253)

Even though the website says the reader handles "Unsecured Text: BBeB Book, Adobe® PDF, TXT, RTF, Microsoft® Word; Image: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMPit", not on one page did I see an image displayed on the reader. This is the most important feature for me as I read many IT books on PFD that include numerous diagrams, pictures, charts, pieces of code as a graphic, etc. I noticed it said it displays 800x600 resolution with 4 shades of gray, but why are there no examples of anything other than plain text? Are images something you do not want to even display on these? If anyone has more info, your insight is appreciated. That would be the difference between me buying one or not.

Re:What about images? (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211345)

I've seen an image of images (!) on the devices. From what I can tell it looks fine. Or as fine as any image will in 2-bit grayscale, anyway.

Battery (1)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211285)

The Battery is a Lithium-Ion. Are these the re-use apple and dell batteries? sorry couldn't resist. Although it has a black and while screen. How really useful is it that it displays JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP? Min requirements: Hard Drive: 20MB9 Minimum availible Hard Drive space Spell check please. I am surprised it supports SD as well as Microstick. I figured it would only support MS.

Re:Battery (1)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211323)

err i forgot something. I looked up a sample. Freakanomics. its cheaper to buy the paper version then the digital one. That doesn't make any sense. I want to email Mr Levitt and find out if he makes more profit with the digital one. I bet he doesn't. The bandwidth space would be about equal price for a website posting information of the book. Digital conversion of the original would be very little (when was the last time a book was written on a typewriter? Its already in Digital format somewhere. So BASICALLY, The cost of the e-book should be MUCH cheaper than the paper version, which its not. Go Figure.

"Ultimate digital reading experience" (4, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211289)

Ultimate digital reading experience? I thought that was braille.

What's this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211297)

> PC Management Software

A rootkit? Does it actually run on my (non-windows, non-x86) PC?

Wahuh? (1)

GimliGloin (642963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211309)

Why does this text file reader REQUIRE a Windows PC??? Wouldn't it be better just to have it act like a USB drive that can also image the contained files (text. BBEwhatever, etc...)... GSG

Seriously... (1)

RMB2 (936187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211311)

... but will it run Linux?

No, seriously. I know Eric Smith already mentioned a link to the source code [] .... I wonder what people will be able to do with this thing... What are the refresh rates i.e. could we make it do some kinda TI-83 style video? And so on....

Neat concept, hacking your book.....

Foreign language books? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211315)

I wonder if they will ever stock books in other languages. I want to try to learn Korean(because Korean women are hot :P) and I think that being able to download books written in Korean(childrens books at first, then getting more advanced) would be an interesting way to learn the language. I can always go to which offers some decent prices, but being able to integrate e-books with dictionaries and whatnot would be really cool. Plus you can be much less limited in your selection.

OpenDocument files? (1)

vinsci (537958) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211339)

How do you put OpenDocument and other format files on the reader? I noticed even PDF files have to be converted to the Sony proprietary BBEB format before being loaded to the device...

How do you perform the file conversions when loading PDF:s from a Linux host?

I didn't see anything that looked like a conversion program among the published GPL files [] for the device.

Re:OpenDocument files? (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211365)

Its a good question. The four questions about it are:

1) Can you read your own books in native mode, and get them in and out using normal file transfer tools?

2) Can you read books bought at the store on other readers?

3) Can you read other ebooks bought at other stores on it?

4) Can you buy the ebooks using an ordinary web browser or do you have to use proprietary software?

Otherwise we are headed down towards a rather familiar place. In this place you are locked into both bookstore, reader and download/management software, and have given up the ability you currently have with both books and cds, to buy them in a variety of ways, from a variety of people, and play/read them on a variety of devices. Which is bad enough in music, but when it comes to books, its truly terrible.

Re:OpenDocument files? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211403)

>>I noticed even PDF files have to be converted to the Sony proprietary BBEB format before being loaded to the device...

No. From the Sony site "Adobe® PDF, JPEG, BBeB Book and plain text formats natively supported. HTML and other text formats require conversion using included software."

I'm excited at least (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211361)

The Sony Reader looks really neat and I am excited, and I noticed a few things about storage on the Reader. For instance, I think it is good that Sony made SD card support available, in addition to Memory Stick compatibility. This is nice and all, but PDF files can get large and being able to add even more storage would be good. From what I understand MS cards on the PSP top out at 4GB at least with the older firmware, which leads me to believe the MS "standard" only supports cards 4GB (2^32 bytes) in size. SD 1.1 cards are limited to the same size, 4GB. However there is a new standard for SD cards called, SD 2.0, which is also known as SDHC. I like to know if Sony has plans to or already supports SDHC cards on the Reader. I would also like to know if the Reader supports USB host mode like certain hard drive cases and the Apple iPod do. One model of hard drive case by AMS that supports USB host mode has an internal Li-ion battery. While I do not know the battery life of this case with the drive running, it should be at least one to two hours. This would be long enough to copy a couple of files from an external hard drive to the internal memory of the Reader. If the Reader does not support USB host mode, Apple could add a file browser to the iPod and with the Camera Connector which enables USB host mode on the iPod, files could be loaded on to the Reader. Then again maybe Sony could maye a larger version of the Reader with a hard drive and a larger battery.

Can you imagine? (2, Interesting)

dryekindrew (1002653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211369)

If this thing had audio support, it would be interesting to see electronic books with soundtracks included. Can you imagine reading a horror book, and as your turning the pages the music gets creepier and creepier. You could also hear al sorts of ambient sounds, depending on where in the book the charecters are. If I had money i'd patent this idea ;)

Doesn't appear to be Mac compatible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211371)

"Operating System: Windows® XP (Home Edition/Professional, Media Center Edition, Media Center Edition 2004, Media Center Edition 2005)" from []

Shame - I was seriously considering one of those as well!

eyestrain on lcd - what? (0)

LosManos (538072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16211395)


>The six inch screen uses E Ink, rather than an LCD, to display the text,
>reducing strain on the eye while reading.

Since when did LCD strain your eyes?
I have read many books (full scale novels) on an ordinary PDA and thought paper lacked contrast when I switched back. Compared to LCD I would say that paper puts a strain on eyes.

Maybe EInk is even better than LCD. (don't know, don't care - sony has used all their credibility [] with me)



Could be good, but its sony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16211411)

It will be see how this turns out. I like the idea (although doubt I'll be investing anytime soon... I love my dead trees, and the accumulation thereof). It could have it uses, but... it's a sony product, so (a) it will have to wait till a less evil corporation produces a competitor and (b) you have to wonder how badly crippled it is.
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