Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

The Library in an E World

Last week, Sony announced two new features to its ebook reader that makes it one of the more attractive options for ereading. First, it announced a book light overlay that mimics the LightWedge. I’ve always thought that eink devices were physically missing an important feature – a backlight. E-ink technology actually prevents a backlight so the only way to adequately light the unit is a front light. The Lightwedge-like booklight is a step in the right direction.

The second piece of news is that Sony adapted its software so that Sony Reader owners of the PR505 (second version) could now read Adobe PDFs and ePubs. This is really a seismic change because readers are NO LONGER TIED to shopping at the Sony Connect store. Readers can now buy books from Harlequin who provides every single one of its series books one month before their paper release date. Readers can purchase books from Fictionwise and take advantage of the micropay rebates or they can purchase books from BooksonBoard which often has the cheapest ebook prices around, even better than Amazon.

More importantly, Sony’s latest development in e technologies allows readers to take advantage of the libraries that offer digital downloads of books and audio. For those who might not be familiar, Overdrive supplies the technological capabilities for libraries all over the world to lend digital copies of books. You can check and see if a local library of yours offers downloadable materials by searching the Overdrive database. Even if you don’t have a local library, you might be able to take advantage of a non-resident program.

For example, the New York Public Library allows an adult who is not a resident of New York to access its digital library for a fee of $100 per year. To date, it has over 1500 romance books available to “borrow” digitally. For selection is a bit haphazard. For example, there are three Jo Goodman books available:

Goodman’s most recent release, If His Kiss Was Wicked, is not available, and even the titles that are available are sometimes only in the Adobe format.

The Cleveland Public Library has over 8000 books in its digital library, 2600+ of those are romance books. They do have If His Kiss Was Wicked. Any resident of Ohio is eligible for a free Cleveland Public Library card.

The District of Columbia has slightly over 1,000 romance ebooks in its digital collection. It also has a selection of books available for hold that are not yet released such as Stephanie Laurens, Edge of Desire. The District of Columbia also allows for a non-resident card application. I wasn’t able to locate that online application but it would be worth calling to find out.

Even if you don’t have an ereading device, you can take advantage of these library offerings to experiment with ereading.

Sony is showing a commitment to eReading and that it’s willing to rethink its positions in response to consumer demand. With the new booklight and the ability to read ePUBs and encrypted PDFs, Sony has pulled at least even with the Kindle, if not slightly ahead of the Kindle. Kindle’s main advantage is the buy anywhere feature that allows the Kindle to be self contained. Sony has yet to achieve that kind of mobility.

Overall, though, I like how major corporations are investing in e-reading. They must believe there is a future here for them and for us ebook readers.

On a side note, this will be the last of the ebook tech articles for two weeks. I am taking a break to enjoy Nationals this upcoming week.

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. Stephanie
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 08:57:49

    Yay! I have a Cleveland Public Library card! (Actually, it’s a Cuyahoga County Public Library card, which is not the same thing, but it can be used at the Cleveland Public Library through this ‘Greater Cleveland Area’ thing.)

    They’ve had e-books for YEARS — at least since 2003, possibly before. They also have audiobooks you can download via the internet, and keep for 3 weeks.

    Glad about Sony becoming a bit less . . . stiff about their formats.

  2. Teddypig
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 09:14:42


    That is major news the first eInk eReader to finally break the PDF lines and it is affordable. I am so buying one now. Kindle better catch up or Sony will win.

  3. Anonymousie
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 09:43:59

    If eReaders had backlight, lots of people (me included) wouldn’t be interested. Backlight causes me major reading difficulties, and it’s the reason I can’t read any long text on the computer. Until eInk, the whole concept of ebooks was lost on me. It was only the invention of eInk that made them possible. I love the light wedge, and think it’s a great inclusion for Sony.

    Unfortunately, Sony–whose been this way for years with their obnoxious memory sticks that don’t work with other people’s devices, etc–is not willing to break the one barrier to purchase that loses them so many potential customers…they don’t play well with Macs. You can’t even organize your library on your Sony Reader. You have to use your computer to do it, and your computer has to be running Windows.

  4. Meriam
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 10:06:37

    …they don't play well with Macs. You can't even organize your library on your Sony Reader. You have to use your computer to do it, and your computer has to be running Windows.

    Bah! Back to the iphone. I’m getting one next month(!)

  5. roslynholcomb
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 11:57:11

    Oh, damn. Not like I was going to suddenly have several hundred dollars to spend on this, but I can’t deal with stuff that isn’t Mac compatible. Sure, there’s always a runaround, but they seem to be strictly for Rube Goldberg aficionados. My mind just get grasp it. I’m not big on backlit either, but would like to have the option for reading in bed.

    they don't play well with Macs. You can't even organize your library on your Sony Reader.

  6. Ann Bruce
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 14:13:33

    Sony…[doesn’t] play well with Macs. You can't even organize your library on your Sony Reader. You have to use your computer to do it, and your computer has to be running Windows.

    Until Sony changes its mind, I recommend Boot Camp or Parallels.

  7. coral
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 18:23:37

    Kindle's main advantage is the buy anywhere feature that allows the Kindle to be self contained.

    Not true – only applies to American residents so I will be sticking with my Palm TX. Must check out my local library to see if it has gone digital.

  8. Karen Templeton
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 09:42:21

    Slight correction re: Harlequin — they release both the e-book and the paperback on eHarlequin a month before the paperback’s available in stores…

  9. Jessica
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 11:47:48

    I lived in Cleveland for five not very enjoyable years, but it had, hands down, the second best (after NYC) public library system I’ve ever used. After living in Los Angeles for seven years I still miss it DESPERATELY. If I lived there, I might just get an e-reader.

  10. Gandalf
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 02:13:05

    I love my PRS-505!! I can’t wait to get the light… I found 1 review that said it wasn’t that great, but I’m still doing my research…

  11. BooksOnBoard
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 18:44:14

    BooksOnBoard is proud to offer a wide selection of PDF and ePub eBooks compatible with the Sony PRS-505 (here is our official PRS-505 announcement). We also provide support for PRS-505 users who may need assistance. We applaud Sony for making their reader compatible with a wider range of formats, as this benefits PRS-505 users. Any time a major industry player steps away from their proprietary format, all eBook readers profit.

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