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How to Decide Between the Sony and the Kindle eInk Readers

Disclaimer: Sony has supplied Dear Author with Sony Readers in exchange for an ad space and links to the



Sorry for the picture quality.   I will replace later on today.   I receive a lot of emails from readers asking me what device should they buy between the Sony and the Kindle.   (FN1).   This post is to help answer that question.   Given the price of these devices, it’s no surprise people keep waiting and wondering where their money is best spent.     What I’ve tried to do is examine the pros and cons of each device and help readers know what features to look for and how to prioritize each feature.   No device is perfect and therefore, the answer to “What should I buy” depends on what features are most important to the reader.  

The Sony has two models:   505 and 700.   There is only one Kindle device available through the main Amazon store but  Kindle 1.0 can be purchased on eBay  or at  Amazon Marketplace.      The features that a reader should consider include the following (this is a non exhaustive list).   I’ve deliberately not numbered them because ultimately the reader needs to prioritize the list herself.

  • Screen clarity. All the devices have the same screen, but the software and controller output something slightly different in each device. The device with the whitest screen in natural light is the Sony 505. The Kindles (1 and 2) have the next brightest screen. The Sony 700 has the lowest screen clarity.
  • Screen refresh. The Kindle 2 has the fastest screen refresh and the Sony 700 is slightly slower. This doesn’t seem noticeable to me when reading. I think that the only time that it makes a difference is in the note taking. The note taking of the Kindle 2 is fairly zipping while the notetaking of the Sony 700 and the Kindle 1 is very slow. The Sony 505 does not have note taking capabilities.
  • Size. The Sony 505 is a gorgeous red and comes in grey and navy. The Sony 700 is slightly larger and thicker with a slight beveled edge in brushed metal. I think it’s supposed to mimic a paper book’s slope. Both the Sony 505 and Sony 700 are made out of metal and feel very sturdy. The Kindle, both 1 and 2, are made with quite a bit of plastic and the Kindle 2, with its thin size, feels brittle. I’m afraid to take it out of the house without a cover.
  • Covers. Speaking of covers, the Sony 505, the Sony 700, the Kindle 1 all come with covers but the Kindle 2 does not. The Sony 505 and Sony 700 attach to covers via small holes in the tip and bottom “spines” of the devices. The Kindle 1 did not have any way to attach a cover, instead small leather corners held the Kindle inside the cover. The Kindle 2 has two slots on the side or spine so that a cover can lock in the slots. The Sony 700 and Sony 505 covers have small magnets in them so that they “stick” to the device when closed.
  • Memory. The Sony 505 and Sony 700 both have SD slots and Sony Memory Stick. The Kindle 1 has a SD slot but Kindle 2 does not have any external memory slot. What’s with that Amazon? One reason to have memory cards is for collections. I.e., I have a work SD card wherein I put caselaw and PDFs of cases and I have a Romance SD card.
  • Dictionary. This is a feature that you don’t think you need but is way fun when you have it. The Kindle 2 integration of the dictionary is very slick. You simply move the jog dial next to the word you want to look up and the definition shows up at the bottom of the screen. It’s very sweet. The only thing that would make it better is if the dictionary that the Kindle accessed was the Urban Dictionary.
  • Controls. The Sony 505 has buttons along the right side and two small circular controllers. The Sony 700 has a touchscreen and a row of 7 buttons right under the screen. The Kindle has two large buttons on the left side and set of controllers on the right hand side with a jog dial. The jog dial maneuvers most of everything on the device. I prefer the Sony 700 touchscreen. SB Sarah says that the benefit of the touchscreen is that the user decides how to manuever through the device based on what works best instead of how the device manufacturer thinks the reader uses the device. I found the jog wheel to be difficult to use, but that could just be a familiarity issue.
  • Folder Management System. A big surprise for readers of the Kindle 2 was the lack of folders. If you have any kind of collection, the lack of folders is really problematic. The Sony 700 and the Sony 505 support “collections” and using a program like Calibre, you can edit the “tags” for each book creating folders or collections that will help you find the books you want to read in the future. For example, I have a list of ARCs by date. I also have tags for paranormal, fantasy, contemporary fiction, etc. Another nice feature of the Sony 700/Sony 505 software is that you can list the books by date added as well as Author and Title.
  • Price. The price is a bit deceptive. For example, the Sony devices do not come with a wall outlet. If you want one, you’ll need to order one separately (buy the Sony PSP adapter. It’s cheaper but works). The Kindle 2 does not come with a cover. The cheapest cover is $30. I do not advise taking your reader anywhere without a cover.  
  • Content. If you are only going to buy new releases and you buy a lot of hardcovers, the Kindle store is a great resource. Buying through the Kindle device itself is easy and very convenient. You don’t need to be tethered to any computer and so it doesn’t matter if you have a MAC or PC. The drawback, of course, is that you can’t read a Kindle book on your desktop computer, only on the Kindle device or now, the iPhone/iTouch. Further, unless Amazon opens up the Kindle format more, you will need to continue to buy Kindle devices (or the iPhone/iTouch and other cell phone enabled devices that Amazon deems worthy of the Kindle program). The Sony advantage here is that you can buy books with other DRM such as Adobe ePub. This is particularly nice if you buy books from the UK where many books are in the ePub format such as all the Mills & Boon books.
  • Non Proprietary Content. I thought that emailing stuff to the Kindle is quite neat but the formatting is often wonky and the title and author are often incorrect with no way to change that from the Kindle device itself. I prefer to use Calibre to convert and then send the converted material to the Kindle or the Sony. The Kindle’s ability to receive email content does not extend to the iPhone/iTouch.
  • Page display. The Sony 700 and 505 display how many pages are left depending on the size of the font. For example, a book with a smaller font will have a smaller page content for the entire book. It says at the bottom that you are on page _ out of _. The Kindle uses “locations” and every book has 3000+ locations. The purpose of the “location” is to utilize the whisper sync technology. The whisper sync technology is how the Kindle syncs up with a mobile device. If you are reading on your iPhone at night, the next morning, if you open up on the same book on the Kindle, the Kindle will know where you left off. This is a very neat feature.
  • Customer Service. I’ve not had to avail myself of the customer service of either the Sony or the Kindle. I do know that the Sony has only a 6 month warranty and that friends have had struggles with the Sony Customer Service.  
  • Ability to take notes/Highlight/Annotate. Only the Sony 700 and the Kindle 1 and 2 have the ability to take notes. In the Kindle 1, it is virtually useless because the slow rate of refresh. The Sony 700 is not much better. The Kindle 2, however, is very responsive. I’m not a big fan of the bubble keys. I never had a blackberry so users of the BB might find this comforting. Instead, I find it difficult to use. I am sure with more practice, it would become second nature, but early use finds me misspelling alot of words as I fumble with the keys. This is a thumb keyboard and my hands are a little small to be able to grip the device and use my thumbs to type.
  • Library compatibility. If you are one of the lucky ones that live in a region where libraries are lending digital books or you wish to avail yourself of the NYPL digital library program, then you have to get a Sony 505 or 700 because the Kindle 2 does not support any of the library downloads (without cracking the library download DRM).
  • Lighting. The Sony 700 is the only device that has a built in light. This is what makes the Sony 700 device superior to me. I read almost exclusively at night and therefore having an integrated light is a necessity for me. When I owed the iPhone and the Sony 500 (my first eink device), I ended up not reading on the Sony because I needed a booklight with the Sony but not with the iPhone. Now that I have the Sony 700, I haven’t read on my iPhone in three months. Since I’ve had the Kindle, I’ve only read on it twice and each night I take the Sony 700 to bed with me.   The light is a big deal for me.

My suggestion is to prioritize the features. Is the direct, always available bookstore a priority?   Maybe it’s the screen clarity.   Maybe, like me, it’s the light. In deciding what to buy you need to think about where you read, how often you buy books, and where you want to buy the books.   You need to decide whether note taking is important to you or having a memory card.   I don’t consider price a huge factor because they are generally the same price (all expensive) but price can be an issue.   Here’s an example of how I would prioritize the devices:

There are five features of the  Kindle  that are superior to the 700

  1. Screen quality   (the refresh speed difference is negligible in my opinion)
  2. Note taking ability (except when it comes to taking notes)
  3. Dictionary function
  4. Buy on Demand
  5. Interoperability with the iPhone
There are four features of the  Kindle  that are superior to the Sony 505
  1. Speed of refresh (the Sony 505 has a superior screen quality)
  2. Note taking ability
  3. Dictionary function
  4. Buy on demand
  5. Interoperability with the iPhone
There are five features on the  Sony  700 that are superior to the  Kindle

  1. Built in light
  2. Touchscreen
  3. Collections/folder management system
  4. More than one format ability
  5. Ability to edit the meta data (the Calibre program works with the Kindle so if you use Calibre, this “feature” is negligible).
There are four features on the  Sony  505 that are superior to the  Kindle
  1. Screen quality
  2. Collections/folder management system
  3. More than one format ability
  4. Ability to edit the meta data


Hope this helps the decision making process.   Don’t miss the Smart Bitch eReader Olympics and Angela James initial Kindle 2.0 impressions.   Both SB Sarah and Angela James have Kindles 1 and 2 as well as Sony 505 and 700s.   

FN 1.   It should be noted from the outset that  all eink devices on the market today have the very same eink screen. The only current manufacturer of  E Ink screens is Vizplex. All current Sony and Kindle devices (along with the Jinke based ebook readers like Hanlin, Cybook, Jetbook, and the like) use the same 6″ screen. What differs is the controller and software behind the screen.

There is a competitor to Vixplex and that is  Plastic Logic. There is no Plastic Logic device yet on the market. Fictionwise ispartnering with Plastic Logic  to create and run the Plastic Logic econtent store which will include newspapers, books, magazines, and other electronic printed matter.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. library addict
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 04:55:38

    Thanks, Jane.

    Now if only I would win the lottery and have that much spare cash on hand – LOL (it doesn’t have to be multimillions, just enough to justify such a big expense).

    I’d be inclined to go with one of the Sony models. I covet them each time I go to Borders or Target. The eInk screen really has to be seen in person to be believed.

  2. Katharina
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 06:07:21

    Thank you Jane, you convinced me that none of those readers is ideal for me. I still think the 300€ what you pay for the Sony here in Europe are ridiculous, though I would be willing to spend that kind of money on a truly great reader. My biggest draw back from the Sony reader is the screen refresh. A friend gave me her reader to play around with and as I am a compulsive note taker, I was seriously disappointed with its quality. I remember having a PDA with too little RAM and until the next page had loaded I could have read one more. Also, the half year of warranty is a bit measly, I think. Usually, you get a year with electronic devices, so no surprise that I am wondering at the quality of the reader.

  3. Evangeline
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 06:13:52

    I’m still torn. I spend a lot of time on amazon, so the Kindle is more convenient, but the Sony Reader is much more attractive and I like the multi-formats allowed. But maybe the best bet is to get the iPhone and have the best of both worlds?

  4. Seneca
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 06:25:48

    It does not look comfortable to hold, though. One of the best things about my ebookwise is the grip on the side so that I can hold it one handed. I always read while nursing my youngest to sleep so that grip is key. Is the Sony comfy for one handed holding? And can you flip the screen so that you can hold it in the other hand? (not flip the device, but flip the screen?) That is also very important for me. I use that feature almost every time I read.

    I was under the impression that the Sony was not backlit which is one of the reasons I have not been switching over. Is that built in light different than a back light?

    What about the delay when you switch pages during reading? I’ve heard from several people that the pause is long enough to annoy.

    I always think about switching to a Sony because I have trouble getting books onto my ebookwise. I’m constantly having to convert them so that they go on and most of the time it messes up the formatting. But then I speak to people who have a Sony and I find out that it lacks a back light, there is a delay… plus that comfy grib on my ebookwise and option to flip the screen is very important.

  5. E
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 07:31:54

    I’m still a fan of reading ebooks on my Palm T/X. The screen size doesn’t bother me, not with the convenience of being able to slip the thing into a pocket. Plus, the cost. I can’t justify spending that much on a device that ONLY reads books. With the PDA, I get wifi, and a whole lot of other handy programs. I once told a friend of mine I’d buy a Kindle if they sold for $50. YMMV

  6. Kimber An
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 07:39:01

    Great post! Enormously helpful. Thanks.

  7. hydecat
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 08:42:59

    Thanks for the great review. This is the kind of information I’d really want to know before purchasing an e-reader.

  8. sloane
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 08:44:26

    A marketing and branding blog singled out Amazon and Kindle as last week’s “brand winner” in stark contrast to the newspaper industry (the week’s brand loser, discussed in the same post. The marketer, John Tantillo, also points out that it’s ironically the Kindle that might go a long way toward helping the newspaper industry to stay relevant, as subscriptions to newspapers sell in Kindle form. (Full post.)

    Do you know if the Sony Reader also supports newspaper subscriptions?

  9. jmc
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 08:46:19

    Re: customer service, in case anyone cares.

    I inherited a gently-used Kindle 1.0 when a friend upgraded to Kindle 2.0. Followed the instructions online about registering, etc., but still kept getting the message “There are no books/items to show”. Called Amazon’s help number, and the problem was solved in just a few minutes. Very helpful and practical, very little wait time, despite the fact that I called at peak business hours. It was by far the most pleasant help-desk response I’ve ever gotten.

  10. jmc
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 08:57:06

    @sloane: The Economist shared similar thoughts about Kindle and other e-reader’s potential for saving the newspaper industry. While other parts of the article bothered me (glib treatment of ebook piracy, insistence on comparing publishing to the music industry), the idea of subscribing to a paper via Kindle interests me. And I write that as someone whose paper subscriptions have dwindled almost to nothing.

  11. Linda
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 09:12:52

    My hubby bought me one of the very first Sony e-readers, and I simply cannot read a regular book on it because the font is too small – even when I “boost” it. Of course, the books already previewed on the thing have large enough fonts. But after buying a book from FWise and downloading it from my computer, the font was tee-niney. Four more books, and all have tiny font. Which leaves me to believe the Doubleday book teasers already uploaded on the thing had their fonts deliberately boosted to compensate.

    Because of this, I don’t like the Sony, and I am willing to give it away. And until I can find an e-reader with large enough fonts, I’m going to peruse the pocketbook-sized mini-computers coming out now.

    BTW, I think Kindle’s biggest saving grace right now is its ability to download immediately off Amazon. But give it another year or two, and I firmly believe FWise and most epubs will have that same capability to send ebooks directly to any standard e-reader.

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  12. Danielle
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 09:22:04

    Linda, have you tried saving your books in the Rich Text format? If you do that then you can save it with a bigger font size, that’s what the customer service rep from Sony told me to do with PDF formatted books. It worked for me.

  13. Linda
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 09:37:00

    @Danielle: Okay, color me “duh”, but how doth one convert PDF to RTF? LOL! I had seriously considered getting one of those overlays Sony offered last year, which really was no more than a giant magnifying glass. But the two times I called (and the one time I was actually at the Sony store at the outlet mall in San Marcos) I was told they were out and to call the factory.

    I’m sorry, but in my weak opinion, if they want me to have a critical component for my Sony, shouldn’t they be keeping them in stock? Or at least offer to call the factory for me?

    Sorry for being an unhappy camper. :(

  14. Sunita
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:10:02

    Great review, Jane, as always. I lovelovelove my Sony Reader, but I can certainly see why some people prefer the Kindle (SandyAAR has a great blog post about her love for her Kindle 2 at the AAR blog). ITA that it depends on what features you most value. For people on Macs who don’t want to learn how to work around the Sony software issue, people who don’t mind giving Amazon control of their library, and people who really want to be able to download a book at the drop of a hat, the Kindle is better. I would say that the notetaking feature is better too, but I think the Kindle is sufficiently worse than the iLiad that if notetaking is a big deal, buy the iLiad.

    On the newspapers and magazines question: there is no subscription feature for newspapers and magazines on the Sony. However, Calibre has a news/magazine subscription feature that is awfully good for being a DIY. You can subscribe to a number of newspapers and magazines, and if you are tech savvy you can make your own subscription. The quality of the feeds ranges from superb (the Economist looks just like the magazine) to adequate (Newsweek has weird font and directory issues). You “subscribe” within Calibre and then set the frequency of the download. You have to leave Calibre open on your computer for the downloads to work, but you can also manually download whenever you want. I have a number of magazines I download weekly and a couple of newspapers I download every day. If you have a subscription to a mag or paper (e.g., NY Review of Books, FT), you can put that information in and get access to download the material behind the paywall.

  15. Danielle
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:12:38

    Linda, this is how I do it and I hope it works for you. Open the book that you want to save….click on File, scroll down to Save as Text. After it is saved as a Text — open the book and click on Format, then click on Font and then change the font size to the one that you want.

    I hope this helps you.

  16. Linda
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:16:32

    @Danielle: Thank you! I’ll try it! :D

  17. Jane
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:18:30

    @Linda Linda, I’ve heard those overlays scratch easily and dilute the quality of the screen. Angela James had one and doesn’t really like it.

  18. Jane
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:21:39

    @Seneca I find the Sony 700 (that’s the device I use) very comfortable for one handed hand holding. I’m not sure what you mean by flipping the screen. Do you mean can you change it from portrait to landscape because you can with the Sony. (I don’t know about the Kindle).

    The Sony 700 has a front light. There are four tiny pegs of light on either side of the Sony screen that lays over the top of the eink screen. Technically it is not backlit.

    The Sony 700 and the Kindle 2 both have very speedy refresh rates so that when you turn the page, I don’t find any noticeable delay, certainly not longer than it takes to turn a page.

  19. Sunita
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:24:01

    Jane, do you change the font size on your caselaw and other work PDFs? Because I find that some of the scholarly articles and working papers I download have really tiny font, and I don’t have a “save as text” option for those, only jpg and other image file types. Flipping the screen to landscape helps on a lot of them, but not all. I don’t know if I’m missing something in the options, or if it’s because I use Apple’s Preview rather than Adobe.

  20. Jane
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:31:01

    @Sunita the work PDFs are just small. Caselaw, I download that in Word and save as RTF in 16 point font. That seems to work well for me. I love putting case law on the device and have actually used it during a hearing.

  21. Mary-Frances
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 10:34:57

    Thanks for this excellent review. I just started using my Kindle 2 about a week ago and I love it. I haven’t had it long enough to be dissatisfied with anything. I think I’m quickly becoming an eReader convert.

    Obviously, people are going to have a preference regarding the Sony vs Kindle. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter whether you have a Sony, Kindle, or printed book. We’re all on the same team because we all love to read!

    Besides, I think this is just the beginning of eReaders. Who knows, in ten years both the Sony and Kindle could be obsolete and we will all have moved on to a different device. I know I’ll want another one some day. Especially when they make the move to color screens.

  22. Wandering Chopsticks
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 11:07:52


    Have you actually gotten credit back from purchasing Kindle on your Amazon Associate link?

    I’ve never been able to do that. What happens is that the purchase might show up in the orders and initial earnings report. But when it comes time for payment, Amazon deducts my own purchases off from my expected earnings. Sometimes it might take until the next month’s payment, but it always corrects itself.

    So unless there’s an exception for the Kindle, people won’t be getting a 5 or 6% discount by signing up and then purchasing it off their own links.

    Just thought a clarification might be needed.

  23. Jane
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 11:19:06

    @Wandering Chopsticks: I didn’t realize that. I know that I get discounts off my purchases of gift certificates for other people. I’ll take that out of the post.

  24. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 11:57:07

    I still think the Kindle is ugly. :)

    # Customer Service. I've not had to avail myself of the customer service of either the Sony or the Kindle. I do know that the Sony has only a 6 month warranty and that friends have had struggles with the Sony Customer Service.

    My Sony was broken about 9 months after I’d bought it-broken thanks to the foot of my toddler. My fault, no error on Sony’s part. However, they replaced it free of charge.

    Then the next one had a button pop off-Sony’s error, not mine. Again, replaced, with no troubles. My experience with Sony has been excellent.

    I’m pining for a red one though. I think I’m gonna give my blue one to the dh and buy me a red one.

  25. Debra Hyde
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 12:04:54

    Great Summary, Jane.

    I’m going to pass the link onto my local RWA chapter’s loop. I’m always getting questions about reading devices at the monthly meetings, so this will be perfect for them!

  26. CourtneyLee
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 12:14:41

    Thanks for this, Jane. For me, the cost of any dedicated reader is prohibitive, but I try to keep up with what’s available on the off chance four hundred dollars falls into my lap. LOL The Sony 505 would work best for me (I rarely buy from Amazon and I have a large pdf library on my laptop), but I’m often asked about ereaders in general. I’ll definitely be sending the link to this article to many people.

  27. Robin
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 12:23:55

    @Sunita: Preview robs you of a number of things that Acrobat allows, so you might want to try opening the docs in Acrobat instead. I notice, especially, in scholarly articles that Preview erases graphics, changes formatting, and performs other changes and excisions I did not recognize as such until I began to open the files in Acrobat instead.

    And one more thing about the Kindle that makes it unappealing to me is the white color combined with the plastic material. Even if you’re not eating Cheetos or something like that while you’re reading, or even if you wash your hands obsessively before taking up the reader, don’t the natural body oils in the hand smear and mark the reader after a while?

  28. Sunita
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 12:58:18

    @Robin: Thanks, Robin, I’ll definitely give Acrobat a try. I like Preview because it’s a nice compact program, but clearly the compactness is coming at a price.

    As for the keeping the white pristine on the Kindle, I assume that it’s like Apple’s white plastic, which cleans up really well in my experience. My iBook G4 has been through the wars, but despite the scratches, it responds very well to the appropriate cleaning materials. If the Kindle isn’t like that, though, well …eeuw, as one who eats Cheetos.

    I like the heft and weight of Sony’s metal, and I find it really easy to hold in a variety of positions; and since I keep the cover on it all the time, the cover is what gets dirty rather than the Reader.

  29. Chrissy
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 13:14:15

    I bought the new one from Foxir just to be belligerent.

    I love it.

  30. Kayleigh Jamison
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 13:20:46

    I have a Sony 505 and love love love it. I use one of the wedge lights for night reading – the overlay – and I quite like it.

    Jane, is Calibre easy to use? I’ve never heard of it, but something that will let me tag and organize my books would be fabulous.


  31. rebyj
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 13:49:25

    The decision will be easy for me. I’ll buy whichever one of them has a half price sale first.

  32. Cauterize
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 13:50:11


    I think how you should comment on Kindle availability outside the US, since we’re not all Americans but we’re still trying to decide what to get. I’m Canadian, and I know it’s possible for me to get a Kindle through the States with a US credit card, but we don’t have Whispernet or EVDO and therefore cannot use the most attractive feature of the Kindle: wireless connectivity and Buy on Demand. I’ve had to explain this a few times to my less tech-savy friends (but who still want one) why a Kindle is not a good buy for us.

  33. Mischa
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 14:17:47

    Some PDF files do not actually have text in them, they just have a JPG picture of the text. It depends on how the PDF was created.

  34. GrowlyCub
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 15:20:44


    Lisa got one last week for $150 at one of the liquidating Circuit City’s in Memphis. If yours hasn’t closed yet, you might want to check… I wish I could have when I was up there yesterday, but I was sicker than a dog and had to have hubby come pick me up from the airport.

  35. Robin
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:07:44

    @Sunita: The Mac is actually polycarbonate, which, as someone who also has the white G4 Macbook, I know to be very durable and not at all porous. I got the impression that the Kindle was just plain porous white plastic, but I could be wrong about that. Sarah’s review at SBTB made it seem as if the Kindle is super-fragile, which the Mac poly definitely isn’t.

    Also, would you mind emailing me at [email protected]; I have a Parallels question for you. Thanks.

  36. SonomaLass
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:26:11

    I agree with Robin about the white Apple surface. Both my DP’s original iPod and my iBook G3 are still shiny and look great (even though the iBook doesn’t work since my darling daughter borrowed it for college and dumped beer on the keyboard). I’ve seen devices by other manufacturers that were designed to look compatible with the various Apple white products, and none of them has a surface that holds up anything like that. So I would be wary of the Kindle on that basis. (Not that I would ever let myself have a Kindle, because I can’t be trusted with that “buy it now & read it now” feature. No way.)

    Thanks, Jane, for this comparison!

  37. Robin
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:44:44

    @SonomaLass: I once spilled coffee on my Mac, and I immediately put it upside down (open like a book placed on a table spine up), in front of a fan. After letting it sit like that for 24 hours, I used the blow dryer on it (gently), and did not try to turn it on for two days. It worked, and slowly, almost everything came back, although I had a light spot on the display forever and my CD/DVD drive was ruined. For the first couple of months afterward, my screen didn’t have all the colors, but eventually they all came back. The machine eventually had to be replaced because the keyboard started to go, it would get hung up, and the fan made this horrible noise, but I think that was only because it was 4+ years old (two years past the spill) and underwent heavy use.

  38. Becca
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:49:02

    @Sunita 14: Could you tell me more about how to get newspaper subscriptions in Calibre? My dad is allergic to newsprint, and got a Kindle2 specifically to be able to read newspapers on it, but he says that the subscription leaves out all the interesting articles and mostly concentrates on sports (in which he is sterling uninterested). Your post here came at a good time – I’ve fwd’d the url to this comparison, but I’d like to know more about the newspaper feature. You can contact me off-list if this is too OT.

  39. Becca
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:50:12

  40. Angela James
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:52:36

    Jane, I think you left off something about the 700 that might be important to some people, and I think it should actually be a pro point in favor of 700 over Kindle: the ability to view your book collection by cover art, not just text/title.

    @Seneca, I’m a former Ebookwise user and I got the Sony 505 and Kindle 1 within a week of each other last summer. I took both out to play with them but continued to use the Ebookwise because of the 1) backlight and 2) comfortable hold. But once I started actually reading on them I realized several things very quickly. The first is that reading on an eink screen like that of the 505 and Kindle (I leave the 700, which I also have, off because the screen quality is not as great) is an experience not comparable to any other device. To the point that, I’m thinking of going back to the superior screen quality of the 505 and giving up the light/touchscreen aspects of the 700.

    The second thing I realized is that I was able to quickly adapt my hold to the other devices and it was kind of nice to have the lighter Kindle/Sony instead of the heavier Ebookwise, especially in my purse! But also just holding it.

    Also, the sheer ease of use of the Sony/Kindle made me finally ditch the Ebookwise and not look back. I still frequently recommend the Ebookwise as a cheap, entry-level device but if people have the $ I don’t feel it’s even got a competitive edge with the quality/user friendliness of the other devices.

    @Linda Jane’s right, I do have that light. I’m not a fan of it. It was marked up within a day of having it, just from being in my purse (in the cover) and I found that it created a glare over the screen if I didn’t want to use the light, and there’s not comfortable way to keep it out of the way without just taking the Sony out of the case.

    On the other hand, I think SB Sarah also has one and she might have a different opinion, but mine is that it’s not worth the $60+.

    @Kayleigh Jamison I think Calibre is easy to use. It’s awesome not just for those with a device, but for anyone with ebooks, to help organize your ebook library. To add to that, I think Jane did at least one “how to” post on Calibre here on DA sometime in the past few months that you might look for.

  41. Kayleigh Jamison
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 16:57:31

    Thanks, Angela. I don’t recall that post, so I will go hunt for it.

  42. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 17:30:41

    Welp, I’ve been trying to restrain myself, but this post has pushed me over the edge.

    I’ve had a Kindle 1 for almost a year, but I just ordered the Kindle 2 and can.not.friggin’.wait!

    Eh… I guess I’ll try to sell the Kindle 1 on Amazon or Ebay. Or if anyone here is interested, lemme know. It’s a wonderful device.

  43. rebyj
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 17:51:00

    @GrowlyCub: Wow! I will check on that tommorow. Everything’s closed already tonight. Thanks

  44. Might a B&N-branded e-reader be on the way? Or e-book-and-paper syncing? Meanwhile here’s a TeleRead video of the Plastic Logic machine | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 18:19:34

    […] of hardware: Check out DearAuthor’s detailed comparison of the new Kindle and the Sony Readers. Jane likes the Sony better because of its sidelighting, among other things. But she correctly […]

  45. Tae
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 18:45:35

    does anyone have a BeBook?
    A co-worker ordered one and will get it this week and I’m almost jealous. I have a Sony PRS but the bebook looks like it supports more formats and it uses e-ink as well. I’d never heard of it until my co-worker mentioned it

  46. Brenna
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 18:48:12

    Buying through the Kindle device itself is easy and very convenient. You don't need to be tethered to any computer and so it doesn't matter if you have a MAC or PC. The drawback, of course, is that you can't read a Kindle book on your desktop computer, only on the Kindle device or now, the iPhone/iTouch.

    An important point I think, since if something goes wrong with your Kindle, until you have it repaired or replaced fast, you cannot access any of your Kindle books in the meantime because it doesn’t comes with any PC reader. With A Sony, you can access your DRMed books despite the temporary loss of the device because your files are also in your computer and can still continue reading.

  47. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 18:59:33

    An important point I think, since if something goes wrong with your Kindle, until you have it repaired or replaced fast, you cannot access any of your Kindle books in the meantime because it doesn't comes with any PC reader. With A Sony, you can access your DRMed books despite the temporary loss of the device because your files are also in your computer and can still continue reading.

    Yeah, that’s a good point. Although, for me, I don’t want to read on a computer. Ever. So it wouldn’t matter which reader I used. I wouldn’t read on a computer. Hate that.

    Again, it’s a matter of preference. I guess I’d just have to deal with the horror of paper books for a while.

  48. J L Wilson
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 19:30:36

    I was a beta user of the Kindle 1 and still use it (my dh bought me one the day they went on sale). The white surface looks pristine, but I bought a good cover for it (I splurged). I use a clip-on reading light and it’s great. I love that I can read out in the sunlight if I want to (a gripe I have with the Ebookwise, which I also have and will probably give away soon).

    I don’t have problems with the organizational issues that others have because I sort my books by storage: I put some on the card, leave some on Amazon and have only a few on the Kindle (a dozen or two) as my “Current” list to read. So sorting a catalog of books doesn’t bother me much and is not a quality I’d look for in a device.

    I’ve had exceptionally good customer service from Amazon for the Kindle. I replaced a battery and had a tussle with the back cover (the K-1). They stepped me through it.

    And if my Kindle dies, I can download my Kindle books to my Itouch thanks to the new app, which I love. I now have a complete library of books (Fictionwise & Amazon ones) all in one place. Finally.

  49. Christine M.
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 19:44:16

    Can anyone tell me about the battery life of those devices? how many hours of reading can a battery charge last? And how long does it take to fully charge an empty battery? Are they all the same? How many charges can the battery take before its duration shortens drastically? (I’m thinking of my iPod which now lasts about 5 hours per charge…)
    Thanks for any and all input!

  50. Brenna
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 19:49:38

    And if my Kindle dies, I can download my Kindle books to my Itouch thanks to the new app, which I love. I now have a complete library of books (Fictionwise & Amazon ones) all in one place. Finally.

    Good for you that you can afford to have other gadgets aside from a computer. For others who can’t, it could be frustrating. My Sony reader display had a problem (my fault, having dropped it) so I ordered a new one. The wait was frustrating and I had just bought two new releases. Reading on a laptop was odd as I was so used to the size of the Sony device, but I simply have to read Promises in Death. No way am I going to put it on hold till my other unit arrives. I can only say that I was so glad I have the file in my computer as well.

  51. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 19:52:37

    Can anyone tell me about the battery life of those devices?

    Christine, it varies. I have a Kindle and if I read a lot in a couple of days , I need to charge it every 3 or 4 days. Other than that, once a week maybe.

  52. Angela James
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 19:56:49


    Eink technology devices use bi-stable batteries, which means that they don’t measure by hour usage but by page turn, because when the page is “stable” (not turning) no power is being used. However, both the Kindle and the Sony 700 have extra things that do suck the battery power (on the Kindle it’s the wireless and the 700 it’s the light) so usage time is also going to depend on how much you’re using those two features.

    I think, of the three–Kindle 2, 505 and 700, that the 700 has the lowest battery performance time. I find I have to plug mine in nearly every day. The 505 and Kindle I have both traveled with and not had to plug in until after about 12-15 hours of usage, have never worried about running out of battery life during the day(s) of flight and airport time. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable doing that with the 700.

    As for charging time, to me they’re all pretty quick (under a couple hours).

    Anyway, sorry I wasn’t more specific, but I think the answer is going to really depend on the user in many cases.

  53. Linda
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:02:11

    I have a Sony 700 and I adore it (and my husband, who bought it for me for Christmas). I do wish it had wireless capability, but then again, that might make buying books just a little too convenient (if you’re a bookaholic, you know what I mean…). I find quite a few titles offered for free or discounted prices on the Sony ebook store, and the selection is always expanding. The light is wonderful for reading in bed at night. Also, it is a sharp-looking machine, much nicer than the plasticky Kindle, and it’s just the right size to hold (the Kindle seemed a bit on the bulky side). I recommend it highly.

  54. Christine M.
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:06:18

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Angela, you gave me a pretty good idea of what I might face. I’m a fast reader and at my actual job, I read on average one to two novels a day (about 300 pages each) so I guess the 505 would be better for me in these conditions. I can always buy a LED reading light to fit on top of it if needs be but I I don’t usually read in the dark, as my s.o. can sleep with the lights on.

    I also wondered if the battery can be replaced once it doesn’t hold its charges anymore or is it like the iPod nightmare of splitting the device opened and risking killing it?

  55. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:14:48

    I read on average one to two novels a day

    Yeah, you’ll need to recharge every day then, I’m thinking.


  56. Angela James
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:15:48

    To the best of my knowledge, you can replace the batteries on both Kindle and Sony (though not extremely cheaply, and I think not always very simply, but it still can be done). I haven’t heard/seen a lot of stories for battery problems with either, though. I think because of the type of battery (bi-stable), battery replacement is not as big a concern as it is for a device like the iPod. Which is not to say that the devices never have battery problems just that it doesn’t seem to be something that hasn’t either been covered by warranty by both places, or is something that happens very infrequently to date.

  57. Robin
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:24:46

    @Christine M.: With the 505, recharging on my Mac takes quite a while, although I hear that the USB isn’t as strong on the Mac as on a PC. If I were you, I’d purchase the Sony wall charger and simply plug it in at night once you’re finished using it for the day. The battery life on my 505 seems interminable, although I keep the text at medium for the most part, and I don’t read all day every day with it. But charging it also seems interminable, so I will probably invest in a wall charger pretty soon, especially as I start using the reader more, now that I have Parallels (with which I can authenticate my reader at the Sony site and at Adobe, allowing me to access more books!).

  58. Christine M.
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:40:19

    @Bonnie: I am a fast reader, but then I work an 8-hour shift in a souvenir shop and at this time of the year…. There’s almost no one in town, which leaves me alone with my books.

  59. Bonnie
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 20:57:33


    I am jealous. I wish I had that much time to read. Seriously.

  60. azteclady
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 21:17:31

    Oh how I lust…! *sigh* the Sony 505 sounds just like what the doctor ordered.

    Now, if I could find a few hundred dollars laying somewhere… :wink:

  61. Alice
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 22:29:24

    A very comprehensive review, Jane. I have to say you are missing one of the pros for the Sony one though – a major one for those of us that lives outside of USA, are unable to purchase and use the Kindle to its fullest capacity. The machines are not shipped anywhere outside of US, and even if you get a friend or relative that lives in US to do so, you have to have a US bank account/credit card to purchase Kindle books. This was the reason I purchased the Sony reader (505 model).

    I compared the 505 and 700 models and decided to get the 505 one because of its crispness and clarity. Indeed the 700 has the interactive touch screen and annotation aspects, but in my gadget-filled world the 700 will never be a iPhone, nor do I need to make notes on the books I download to read. In fact I could have done without the music and picture functions of the 505, instead, would have appreciated the ability to have a light attached for night reading and the ability to flip through a book faster (btw, press the side arrows down firmly to go 10 pages forward or backwards at a time, or just type in a page number and press ‘menu’ is possible now). In addition, the 505 was sure sexier and slimmer looking than its new bulky cousin!

    The sorest point for me is Amazon’s lack of insight or thought towards its international market. It has been 2 years since Kindle came to the market, and the company has not once provided any communication to its international clients about Kindle – like why its not available ooutside of USA, what is being done, etc. Their silence has made it loud and clear they don’t put too much worth to markets outside of USA in the ebook market arena, therfore I have made a decision not to purchase from this company anymore.

    I purchased my red Sony 505 two weeks ago and currently have 56 books downloaded. Most of the books from Sony ebook website – there will be more from them as part of the purchase deal for the machine was 100 Classics ebooks free download – I believe the deal finishes at the end of March. As well, for you Canadians Chapters is also stepping up to the ebook bandwagon, and other websites like, samhain, and other smaller independent publishing companies.

    READ ON!!

  62. Anthea Lawson
    Mar 08, 2009 @ 23:10:28

    The Smart Bitches are in the middle of the e-reader Olympic Playoffs. Both versions of Kindle and Sony readers are going through intensive testing and evaluation. I highly recommend following their progress, too!

  63. » Read an E-Book Week
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 07:45:03

    […] The ladies at Dear Author regularly post about e-reading technology and their most recent post, How to Decide Between the Sony and the Kindle eInk Readers, is merely the latest in an ongoing […]

  64. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 08:57:45

    How come the CyBook never gets a mention in any of the roundups? I have one and I LOVE it!

  65. Alice
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 09:04:41

    Publishers must surely know the ebook of today is not going to disappear like it did on its first attempt a few years ago – for a lot of people the decision in going from paper to digital is not just because of the convenience and ability to carry almost a bookcase full of books in a unit lighter than a regular paperback – the decision also depends on whether a) e-versions are cheaper than the paper version and b) the timeliness of new books being available in the e-version. I am lucky to be able to afford feeding my habit of getting e-versions of favorite stories and/or authors from the past, I like to revisit stories more than once, and also having the option of buying the paper version of a new release if it is not offered in both formats initially, and getting it again in an e-version if I like the book. I know not everyone can do that and hope publishers are aware of their important role in this second ebook revolution – could either be a superstar or left eating edust!

  66. Dear Author on how to choose between Sony and Kindle | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 10:28:04

    […] is one of the most comprehensive articles I've seen on the subject. I am posting the beginning and the end, but the middle is well worth […]

  67. Sheryl Nantus
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 12:39:40

    still not going to buy either until the price comes down, WAY down and they manage to get color.

    I can buy one of those mini-laptops for the same price and slap Calibre on it and see all my ebooks in color!

    great review!!!

  68. Seneca
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 13:01:29

    Thanks Angela and Jane :)

    I wont ever buy a Kindle because I don’t want to support Amazon in any form, but I do lust over the Sony just a little bit.
    I wonder if I can find on in pink?

    Perhaps I need to go to the Sony store and play around with one for a bit.

    I do love my ebookwise a lot, though.

  69. Miki
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 18:21:46

    @Seneca: Sony likes to offer deals now and again with “skins” – the Deb Macomber “skin” was a light blue textured one.

    I have a hot pink cover for my Sony…does that count?

  70. Miki
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 18:24:26

    @Kalen Hughes: bleh

    I bought one of those before the Sony 505…wish I’d sent it back. It’s currently being lent out to a co-worker.

    I thought the page-turn was too much work – the button doesn’t always register that you’ve pushed it. From comments over at, I understand this is not consistent – some Cybook owners notice it, some don’t. I got one of the “lemons”.

    I think one of the things that will make ebook readers more popular is the ability to see it in action at the store. I’d have never bought the Cybook if I’d had the chance to test it out first…

  71. Maili
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 00:54:34

    From Alice: The machines are not shipped anywhere outside of US,

    I really do find that bizarre because ebooks are supposed to be “countryless”, but I suspect they want to test on the domestic market first to iron out all potential teething problems before they would go international.

    I think the biggest problem is the foreign rights. Availing the machines internationally could bring on a set of problems relating to foreign rights. This is one aspect that hasn’t been sorted out.

    The grey market exists via online bookshops including Amazon where international readers can buy (physical) books that aren’t otherwise available in their countries, but at least in a way, it’s still controlled. This is not the case with ebook versions because in theory, ebook versions should be available only to where it can be sold. But how do you ensure that?

    One way is to have a country-specific credit card and/or address, but to ensure this further is not availing the devices to those outside the country. Otherwise foreign publishers may object as it could affect their own book sales (physical and ebook versions).

    I think that’s why they are restricting the Kindle and the like to its own country until this particular issue is sorted out. This is my speculation, though. At best it’s an educated guess.

  72. anon
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 03:36:45

    The one thing I’m still griping about is the delay they put on all ebooks. 2, 3 weeks delay after the physical books is sold everywhere.

    I live in a third world country and the dead trees english books are quite hard to get. Romance? Forget about it. Ordering doesn’t work either because I will get it 2-3 months after I do.

    Imagine my shock when I registered on BoB and ready to flash my credit card to buy some new books released last December, and found out that I couldn’t buy it until weeks later!

    If this is to somehow cripple piracy, it’s really not the answer. I found the pirated version a few days later – and read that. I’m sorry but I’m not a good enough person to wait – or buy the book after I read it. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. Yes, I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to make me buy the book still.

    Maybe I will get a lashing here for not being a better person and just wait – or buy the book afterwards. So be it. I want to provide a view point of people who just have no way to get ahold of physical books, and so ebooks are the answer, but oh wait not really because we can’t buy and read it the same day other people privileged enough to live in countries where the physical books are available the day it is released.

    To be honest? You dangle the new Nora/J.D Robbs, Kresley Cole, Balogh, the new Nalini in front of me, and I don’t care if I pay for it or not, I *will* read it. And I am not the only one doing it.

    Piracy will always be around – and right now, whoever decided on this delayed release thing is making it easy for people like me to support the illegal industry.

    But of course, this comment will be dissected and stomped and spat upon and disregarded by the “big” voices around – here, SBs, Karen, etc etc. And you will say I didn’t mean to pay anyways, and I just wrote this to justify myself. Yeah yeah. I wonder how many people will wait. Or buy after they read.

    I am not trying to justify myself. I know it is wrong. No matter what the publishers are doing, it is wrong to read/watch/listen whatever you didn’t pay for, I know that. I feel that. I just really, really want this to be solved. I’ve been reading ebooks for 4 years. How much longer do we have to wait? Will someone just listen?

    If you think that people who meant to buy will buy it even after they read, and ppl like me will never buy anyways – think again.

    But of course. Since I read pirated books anyways, you’ll just say I’m a scum and my opinion does not reflect the big picture. If you prefer to be blind, no skin off my nose.

    And yes, I’m small enough to be an anon.

  73. Danny
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 09:22:16

    Jane, thanks for this blog.

    I am going to get the Sony 505 when I am in the States next month for the RT convention. I was thinking about getting the 700, but now I know that the 505 is perfect for me. Especially now that my pda died.

    Although the sony reader is now coming to Germany it is more expensive than in the States and they won’t offer the red one.

  74. Chrissy
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 13:55:58

    Not one single person is using an eslick but me?


    I have to admit, I think part of the reason Sony and Amazon have everyone by the cahoonies is… well… err, nobody has tried saying “please release my cahoonies so that I might partake of other things.”


  75. ms bookjunkie
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 14:55:49

    Chrissy, is Calibre of any use with the eslick?

    I’d almost decided on the Sony 505 but now I’m finding out about all these other devices. The BeBook looks interesting… very versatile. Some days I’m sure I’m getting a device, other days I’m sure I can do without. I’m on the verge of pulling hair -my own- with all these choices and decisions to make about what I want and how much I would be willing to invest. Gah!

  76. Chrissy
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 16:21:14

    The eslick is strictly PDF, but so am I.

  77. I’m not buying this Kindle hype « iSearchlight
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 14:31:24

    […] be, there are other options and there will be more of them coming soon. Some people might prefer Sony Reader, others might want to read e-books on their PC or Mac, iPhone or Android, etc. One thing I know is […]

  78. Stumbling Over Chaos :: *insert annual whining about springing ahead for Daylight Savings*
    Nov 18, 2009 @ 18:46:15

    […] Author has a nice point-by-point comparison of the Kindle and Sony ebook […]

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