Just like Scott Pack (indeed, in exactly the manner he describes, including nice email from Huw from i-level), I have received a freebie Sony Reader. I understand Steve and DGR are each getting one too.

Well, it's very nice! Free stuff is always nice. As a device it is pleasant enough but, I have to admit, I'm a little underwhelmed: I can't read under my favourite reading light because of reflected screen glare; page turn is slow -- and one forgets that with real book one flicks a lot e.g. to see how many pages before the chapter ends thus whether to read on or not; also, reading two books simultaneously, only the last one you were reading is conveniently saved, you have to search for other one (I think); and the alphabetical of authors is so wrong -- Melville is under H for Herman!!

However, it is very slim and tidy, and having a hundred-odd books within such a neat, wee package is very exciting. I'll live with it for a bit and report back anon.

Personally, I think e-readers represent a cul-de-sac technology: they'll go off on their own merry way for a bit, improve screen and e-ink technology, iron out their other glitches, and get really good at what they do -- and then the technology will be bundled back into the third or fourth generation i-phones and their competitors. The standalone e-reading device is only ever going to be a minorty-interest toy. However, if good e-reading technology is bundled back into mainstream devices (notebook laptops and phones) I can see it acting as a gateway drug that might lead some innocent young thing from the relative safety of reading on a screen to the hardcore activity of reading actual, real books. Too much hot air has been guffed about e-readers killing books -- I think they might lead a new generation back to them.

Update: Rob over at SnowBlog has some interesting things to say about the device too.

Readers Comments

  1. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it. I already read books on an iPod Touch, and read them on a Palm PDA before that, so I probably have less of a tie to dead tree technology than many, though this house is inexplicably groaning with books all the same. The problem with feeding the e-ink technology back into iPhone-like devices is that it is (for now at least) very specific in its capabilities. iPhones have to do everything, from text, to photographs, to UI, to video. Moving pictures in particular defeat one of the key benefits of e-ink, namely that it is static and uses very little power. Who knows at this stage though? You are right I think to imply that a single-purpose device is going to struggle unless it is very much better than the alternatives and from the limited time I've spent with these things they are not (I can read in the dark on the iPod, for instance, as well as in bright sunlight). I see the real benefit of this technology as being for people like doctors on ward rounds, for students on courses that require big heavy text books, and possibly for newspapers and magazines. E-ink is good for road signs and advertising billboards too. But what about libraries? Your e-ink device gets access to the entire library holding if you are a member and you can download any of the books up to a certain number, not just those that are available. New borrowings erase the old ones as you wish. The actual books can be kept in properly climate-controlled archives and loans could be tracked easily for author payment purposes.

    Nice shiny gadget all the same and better looking than the Kindle.

  2. *cough* - I'm getting one too, and I'll be reviewing it and my experience of reading Imre Kertész's Fateless(ness) on it in due course. It may not be compatible with my Mac so that might be all I ever get to read on it...

  3. I received one too, and have posted a few first impressions on my blog, but am yet to read a book on it. Somehow, I don't think I am going to fall in love with the thing.

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