Goodbye Bookshelves: Sony Reader PRS-505

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I’ve been turning the pages on the Sony Reader for six months now.  The Reader is a solid, nice looking replacement for all the paper books that used to clutter my life.  After grabbing digital versions of all the novels and non-fiction books on my bookshelves, I took an entire truckload of my books down to the donation center.  The only paper books I keep around are books with photos and coffee table-type books.

At the time, there were two choices in the digital book department: the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle.  Although the idea of the Kindle being able to fetch the daily newspaper was tempting, the choice was a no-brainer for me. The bulkiness and ugliness of the Kindle was not worth the convenience of a wireless connection to download content. The Sony is much more compact and I always slip it in my back pocket when I head out to catch a Bart train.  And the all-aluminum finish and leather binding dances circles around the Kindle in the looks department.  The screen is crisp and is as easy on the eyes as words printed on paper.  Diagrams and images display sharp and clean as well.

Two drawbacks to the Sony Reader:

The Sony Store

Sony has created on online store for purchasing book titles similar to iTunes. Sony could have easily developed this store in a platform-independent web-based environment, but instead, Sony decided to make the store available only through a Windows application. Mac and Linux users, the most likely group of tech-nerds to early adopt, are out of luck.  This slap in the face from Sony has forced me to obtain my entire digital library of ebooks through alternative sources.  Fortunately, there is a great open source app for Linux called Libprs500 which syncs up to the Sony Reader via USB.  It can also take documents from other formats and convert to the native Sony Reader Format.

Battery Life

Sony claims something like 10,000 page turns on a single charge.  I’ve never tried to change 10,000 pages at a single sitting, but the Reader definitely quickly loses battery life sitting on the shelf powered off.  In real life, the Reader battery drains all the way down after about two weeks of either being used or just sitting on the shelf.  You start to ponder the benefits of modern technology when you sit down to crack open a book and find that your book’s battery is dead.