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THE SONY PRS-505'S EBOOK READER VIRGIN

Sony Reader in RedSo, I was the lucky recipient of a shiny new Sony PRS-505, in a very lovely shade of red. I’ve never owned an ebook reader, and in fact my experience in reading ebooks has been fairly recent and rather limited. I have tried both reading on the computer (which is convenient sometimes, but obviously not at others) and printing out ebooks (paper-wasting and cumbersome, but at least I can read them in bed).

I was a little intimidated by the Sony PRS-505 at first, I will have to admit. I think of myself as sort of in the middle, technology-wise – not a Luddite but not a tech geek. I can usually figure out how to do what I need to, but there is a lot I don’t know. I was unsure about all of the various formats that ebooks apparently come in, and what would be needed to convert files for uploading to the reader. Jane was very good about giving clear instructions, and the only slight problem I had at the start was caused by my not reading her instructions carefully enough.

But within a few days of receiving my beautiful Sony PRS-505, I had 27 books loaded onto it. Now, 27 books might not sound like a lot to those of you who have many more loaded onto your ebook readers. But I’m starting out small. As it is, to me, it is an embarrassment of riches. I mean, think about 27 books – how much space they take up. I have all of them on something that is just the right size (small but not so small that it is in danger of slipping out of my hands or getting easily lost), sleek and lightweight. I can take it everywhere with me (except in the bath; that’s a bit of a bummer). It fits in my purse. I can carry 27 books around in my purse! It’s so exciting!

In terms of the user interface, the Sony PRS-505 is quite simple – really pretty intuitive. I don’t mind reading on the screen; the only issue I’ve had so far is with weird line breaks and page breaks, but that seems to occur only when I change the font to a larger size. There may be a fix for that, but for now I’ve just switched back to medium font (which is sufficient and really better for me because even without the formatting issues, the larger font required turning the pages rather more often than I really want to have to).

I don’t have much to compare the e-ink technology to since I haven’t used other ebook readers, but I will say that the type is quite clear and crisp and that reading on the screen doesn’t seem to cause any undue eyestrain.

I do think there is a slight psychic adjustment that is inevitable with the switch to ebooks, but it really hasn’t been too bad. It’s a little less obvious where I’m at in a story (I mean, I can subtract the page number I’m on from the number of pages, but it’s not so instantaneous as just measuring how much of the book is left). It’s a little harder to go back and find a passage if you want to – you can’t flip through looking for something. Instead you have to guess a page number and enter it in and then scroll backwards or forwards to try to find what you’re looking for. On the plus side, I think in this format I’ll be less likely to peek ahead. Peeking is only an occasional problem for me (I used to do it much more), but I really find that it can affect my enjoyment of a book, so anything that discourages the habit is a step in the right direction.

By the way, I wholeheartedly agree with Jan that the "roadmap" format of the instructions was annoying. Maps strike fear in my heart, and it was just plain irritating to have to keep spreading it out and refolding it differently to get to the step I was on. Luckily, there aren’t actually that many steps involved in setting the PRS-505 up.

I ended up installing both the Sony elibrary software and the Calibre program. I installed the former because I could not figure out how to remove the DRM from the books I already had in Adobe Digital Editions. I think in the future I’ll stick to using the Calibre program, since it does appear to have greater functionality.

One thing I’ve been impressed with is how long the reader holds a charge. Compared to cell phones, my other major point of reference, the Sony PRS-505 holds a charge forever (especially compared to my recently purchased iPhone, but part of the blame there goes to me for playing with the damn thing so much!). I appreciate the long charge because it’s just one less thing to worry about. I’ve been taking the ebook reader with me wherever I go, and it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry constantly about a low battery.

I can’t emphasize how exciting it is to have so many books at my fingertips. I have not been much of a book saver for the past five years or so, but I still have about four boxes of keepers from previous years, which have been culled down a few times (sometimes to my regret!). I’d like to get the collection even smaller; since I rarely reread, I am mostly holding onto these "just in case". So I’m going to look into buying ebook versions of some, and perhaps undertake the task of scanning some. I will probably have to buy more memory cards at some point, but it’ll be worth it. Getting rid of clutter excites me almost as much as reading does!

I wasn’t sure how I would take to ebook reading, but I have discovered that the Sony PRS-505 is easy to use, very attractively designed and a great boon to me as a booklover. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Best regards,

Jennie

has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

16 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 12:15:35

    Congrats on your new reader!!!! I have the red one and love it.

  2. Robin
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 15:11:43

    I agree with you about finding things in the book. You can bookmark pages, but still, even reading on my laptop I can use the find feature to locate a word or something in a book (at least in PDF and, I think, eReader).

    When I read on my laptop, I generally use eReader, and what’s super nifty about that is that I can copy text for quoting and then paste the copied text into a review, all quoted and everything! OMG I love love love that feature! One of my single most unfavorite things to do while writing a review is to painstakingly copy text by hand for block quotes. I know that sounds soooo spoiled, but after the convenience of eReader’s copy function, I guess I’m just spoiled, lol.

    And yeah, when you compare the iPhone charge with the Sony charge, it’s an amazing difference. It stuns me, really, how long the charge on the Sony lasts. But then, there’s not a lot of different functions to drain the battery on the Sony, either.

  3. colleen gleason
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 16:52:45

    I have a Kindle, which I love, and one of my biggest ah-ha! moments was figuring out how to use it in the tub.

    I put it in a Ziploc bag and it works just fine, and keeps it safe and dry. I’m not sure how the Sony reader turns its pages, but you might want to try that if you’re a tub-reader like me. ;-)

  4. Kaetrin
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 17:57:13

    I got a Sony reader recently and have installed Calibre. I’m in lurrrve (TM).

    BooksOnBoard had a massive sale this weekend, so my resolution not to buy anymore books until I’d read down my TBR list went out the window…

    A couple of queries though; the Sony reads Adobe and Digital Editions so I haven’t tried to strip the DRM. Is there something about stripping the DRM and changing the format (and if so, to what) that makes it a better reading experience?

    Also, I downloaded some Digital Editions DRM books from Books on Board this weekend. All but 2 of them went into Calibre and then on to my Reader without any trouble. But with Broken and Dirty by Megan Hart, there was some problem. The books downloaded them okay but when I went to send them to my reader via Calibre it didn’t work and only one page went which said “protected”. I noticed that Adobe Digital Editions read my reader so I just dragged and dropped from DE and the books went on to the reader no problem. Does anyone know what that was about?

  5. LinM
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 18:10:44

    It's a little harder to go back and find a passage if you want to – you can't flip through looking for something. Instead you have to guess a page number and enter it in and then scroll backwards or forwards to try to find what you're looking for. On the plus side, I think in this format I'll be less likely to peek ahead.

    Sigh – my family has discovered that Mom has some great ebooks so I’m often without my reader. I need another one but the 505 doesn’t cut it. My ereader must support the way I read books; forwards, backwards, browsing at will, searching for passages. Why read a book sequentially – it probably was not written that way. Does the 700 allow searching through the entire book? (although the price of the 700 makes me wince).

    I have a Kindle, which I love, and one of my biggest ah-ha! moments was figuring out how to use it in the tub.

    The tub is one of the few places where I can read without interruptions (that and late at night). I’ve always just taken my palm into the clouds of steam and it has lasted 5 years without problems. So far, I have not fallen asleep reading – I’m not sure a ziplock bag would be enough.

  6. Tae
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 18:41:34

    I love the charge on the Sony 505. I can go about a week before I need to recharge, and I think that’s about 15 hours for me. I read quickly so that’s a lot of page turning and I know that turning the page is what takes up the battery juice.

    What I don’t like is that it takes so long for PDF books to turn pages. The weird line breaks is also a turn off when I change the font size.

  7. JulieLeto
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 19:13:37

    Colleen, I think I love you. I never would have thought of this!!!

    I have to say, I’m reading a book right now…a paperback. I miss my Kindle. I have to have HANDS to read with a real book. With my Kindle, I can read while blow drying my hair, while chopping vegetables, while eating with both hands. It’s a definite advantage to multi-taskers!

  8. Jane
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 19:40:46

    @Kaetrin: It’s hard to say why those two particularly Adobe books wouldn’t be transferred via Calibre but there is no purpose to stripping the Adobe DRM in order to read with the Sony. It doesn’t improve reading performance. I don’t think, actually, there is a way around the Adobe EPub DRM right now even if you wanted to.

  9. Jennie
    Feb 15, 2009 @ 23:22:22

    One of my single most unfavorite things to do while writing a review is to painstakingly copy text by hand for block quotes. I know that sounds soooo spoiled, but after the convenience of eReader's copy function, I guess I'm just spoiled, lol.

    I know! It’s amazing how quickly one gets accustomed to the little conveniences. I hate having to type text in when I want to quote, too. Not the least because I have to read it about 20 times for typos.

    I put it in a Ziploc bag and it works just fine, and keeps it safe and dry. I'm not sure how the Sony reader turns its pages, but you might want to try that if you're a tub-reader like me. ;-)

    Thanks for the suggestion. I may give it a try, though I’m sure I’ll still be totally paranoid about it getting wet. I spilled tea on my iPhone today and nearly had a heart attack (luckily, it seems fine!).

  10. Lynn M
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 13:13:38

    Looking for some advice.

    I love my Sony reader, but I use a Mac laptop. I’ve loaded the Sony software on my husband’s PC, but I’m wondering if I can load Calibre onto my Mac and sinc my Reader that way.

    Can anyone offer advice about Calibre specifically? What can/does it do that the Sony software doesn’t?

    Thanks!

  11. MaryK
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 14:10:59

    @Robin: The Sony doesn’t have a find feature?!? I thought it did, but I guess I just assumed it.

  12. Sunita
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 14:55:22

    @Lynn M:
    I have an old iBook G4 laptop. I installed Calibre and use that to manage my ebook files more than I use the Sony program on my desktop (which is also Mac but runs Parallels). I cannot say enough good things about Calibre.

    I only had access to my laptop for about a month over the holidays and I managed to put lots of books on it. The only thing you have to do (besides not buy books from the Sony Bookstore) is make sure that you’ve already registered your Reader if you’re using Adobe Digital Editions for DRM Adobe books. Then you can download the ADE for Mac to open the editions and Calibre will pull them from the Adobe folder.

  13. Robin
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 00:10:22

    @MaryK: If it does have a find function, I haven’t ‘found’ it yet, lol.

    @LynnM: I can’t compare Calibre to the Sony software, as I’m still working on getting Windows to run on my Mac, but I can tell you that Calibre is critical to me as a Mac user in converting non-DRMed books to epub and sending them to the reader. When you hook the reader to a Mac, it registers is at an external hard drive, but Calibre recognizes the reader and it is very easy to send books that way. Also Calibre has a wonderful organizing capacity that makes it very easy to view, convert, and send books to the Sony. I would have very few choices for reading on the device without Calibre, frankly, so I’m thrilled with it and highly recommend it for the Mac user. And I second Sunita’s recommendation to register your version of Adobe Digital Editions using the same account on your Mac and your husband’s PC so you can transfer ADE books between the Mac and the Sony. I haven’t been able to do this yet, but I am going to as soon as I can.

  14. MaryK
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 00:30:09

    @Robin:

    If it does have a find function, I haven't ‘found' it yet, lol.

    Bummer! I was looking forward to a find feature when I eventually get a Sony.

  15. Gail
    May 07, 2009 @ 21:17:04

    I am brand new to the sony 505 e-reader. My question is, my friend has one also. Can we share books we download with eachother?

  16. Gail
    May 08, 2009 @ 10:59:18

    Got my answer. We can only share if we are on the same account (e-mail)

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