Sony eBook Reader – Err, Maybe

Just a few days ago, I had a mutter about the newly released Sony Reader thingy. I’d decided that thanks to the excessive price of eBooks from Waterstone’s, the device was most unlikely to be added to my toy collection. But as sometimes happens, a little more information has reached me, and I’m beginning to dither a bit. The key is that the device, in addition to its own DRM format, also supports the standard epub book format. Now epub books can be DRM-infested, but they can also be freely available and unrestricted. Most books of that kind will be either old and therefore out of copyright, or released that way because the authors want to do that.

A bit of gooogling yesterday led me to ePub Books, which has useful links to sites where you can download more eBooks, both paid-for and free. So, this whole thing is looking a lot more attractive now.

But what’s really making me get the “new toys” twitch is the fact that I’ve now had the chance to play with one. Waterstone’s in Newcastle have one set up on a stand, loaded with some sample chapters. I looked at it, and at first I thought it was a mock-up, with a printed label where the display should be. I was wrong. It was a real one, in full working order. The eInk display really is that clear and sharp. I played for a bit, found the interface nice and simple and quite obvious – which is good. If devices like this are going to become a partial replacement for real books, they need to be really simple to use, and as much like a book as possible.

So, at this point, I’m definitely tempted. More news if I ever make up my mind…