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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Sony Reader

The Sony Reader has arrived. If you follow the link you can see a demonstration. About the size of a paperback it has enough memory to hold the contents of around 80 books, and it will take an extra memory card if that’s not enough for you. You can also play mp3 and audio files on it, and the device comes with a cradle to enable you to download files from your pc.

Sony claim that the Reader‘s screen is like paper and that it is as easy to read as normal print. The screen is not backlit and uses new technology which makes it usable in dark or light conditions and from almost any angle. The device has the ability to read personal documents as well as e-books. At the touch of a button you can reformat the text to increase or decrease size or to make it read in landscape or portrait mode.

Battery life is claimed to support the viewing of up to 7500 pages. Initial price will be around $350.00.

19 Responses to “The Sony Reader”

  1. Hi John,
    You’ve reported on the development, but you’ve not given an opinion. I wonder what you (personally) think of this development?
    Do you think it will work and be adopted?
    Are you happy to see your own novels read in this way, especially from the commercial point of view?
    I’m interested to know your thoughts, should you choose to divulge…

    jb says: OK, I’ll tell you tomorrow. But what about other people, surely there are different views out there?

  2. Napfisk says:

    Arrived at your place or just generally, in the shops?
    I’m not sure I’d ever buy one of those. I can’t see myself reading in bed with a cold hard thing like that, for instance. Might be good for business people who need to read up on huge amounts of files while travelling.
    In my case, I think if I wanted to travel light, I’d just buy a book and tear off the bits I already read. Saves space and if the book’s any good, I’d buy it again on my return.

  3. john baker says:

    I believe they go on sale in the States on the 1st October. A month or two later in Europe and the UK.
    What do I think? Ambiguity strikes again.
    First of all, I’m not against the new technologies. As a writer, computer technology saves me hours of (physical and tedious) labour. I can remember the typewriter, though not the quill, and I would not wish to return to typing out five drafts of a novel in order to get a clean enough copy to present to a publisher.
    I have a fairly high tech mobile phone with a largish screen and the ability to display high resolution text. On train journeys I sometimes use it to read short stories and poetry, and I have used it from time to time to edit a novel. The device has a large memory and can hold copious amounts of text, and its also possible to synchronise the results with my desktop computer.
    I’ll buy one of the Sony Readers when and if they hit a price I can afford. Although I tend to think they will be more useful for ‘textbooks’ rather than novels, I’m open to the possibility of being wrong.
    Nostalgia comes into the picture, of course. Like the rest of you I treasure the look and feel and smell of books. But my first concern has always been content and I don’t see this changing much because of the form in which the text is delivered. And I anyway tend to keep my book collection as small as possible because of the dust factor and my seeming inability to keep on top of it.
    I don’t want it to happen overnight. All the books disappear and we’re left with something made of steel and plastic that doesn’t quite work right. But I do anticipate a slow change, less paper books and more electronic Readers.
    And I’ll go with that, both as a writer and a reader.
    ‘Commercial point of view,’ did you say? Only a few very rich writers will really be concerned with that. Traditionally, the cash that is made from books enters the realm of the publisher and book-seller, where it remains.

  4. Thomas says:

    As a tennis coach I ask questions of my students that truly aren’t rhetorical. They always assume that I have the answers to all my questions in my back pocket. I do not have a clue what the right answer is to these questions.
    This is what I assume is happening here.
    Maybe the author of johnbakersblog is reaching out to his audience, looking there for answers. When you phrase things in an oblique way you confound our expectations.

    jb says: Hi Tom, You may be getting somewhere near the mark, here. The undercurrent was a faint hope that someone would give me a Sony Reader as a gift. But I don’t suppose that someone is going to be you? Maybe a little coaching for my backhand?

  5. the narrator says:

    This seems extravagant. Microsoft Reader installed on a good PocketPC looks great and does the same things, plus… I don’t know, there’s this big move to alternate format books created via proprietary systems – see – but I tend to think the future lies more with multi-use ubiquitous devices.

    Of course I work heavily with people who cannot navigate ink-on-paper books, so I might be looking from a different angle.

  6. Thanks John for answering. Personally I hate the thought of a hand held device where I have to read a screen. That might prove to be my push into audio books!

    At the moment, price is irrelevant to me. I just don’t want to go there! But I also expect that I’ll come round in a decade or so…

  7. Mark Chisholm says:

    Ended up here via the convoluted path of searching out the new Sony Reader. Seems that many people are a little negative about the Reader and I find that somewhat short sighted and every so slightly snobby. First off how about looking at why this item may work. It uses eInk, which is a new technology that replicates the real view of ink. If it’s as good as some of the reviews then bring it on. Secondly I’d like to put in a word for us travellers who will probably buy this in our droves. I work offshore and generally pretty much everyone reads like its an obsession. If you can go through four or five books a week then you can only imagine what it’s like carting enough to read for six weeks or six months. I would put money on the fact that by next year most of the regular long term travellers will be using an ebook Reader. And that’s just the thin edge.

  8. NICOLA says:

    I want one. Do you know where I can buy one in UK??

    jb says: I think they go on sale in the UK some time in December. You could try the Sony website.

  9. […] Over at Chekhov’s Mistress, another review of the Sony Reader: At the fashionable yet oddly cold Sony store on Madison Avenue I checked out the much ballyhooed e-book reader. It’s light – much more so than even a paperback book – it’s readable – much more so than even a paperback book – and it’s amazingly functional – much more so than even a paperback book – but I’m afraid you can’t sit on it. […]

  10. skint writer says:

    Well, I’m impressed. Of course there are similar devices, but it looks like this could be the ipod of the book. It’s all about branding and focussed functionality.

    In the end content is king, books are great, but as long as the reading experience is good, this looks like the beginning of something at last.

    Also it could well increase the overall pool of readers because it’s more in synch with the way people live now.

    Then there’s the environmental benefits – less paper books = less paper = less chemical processes and less energy used.

    At the very least it will add to the ways in which we can get our words out there. What harm can it do? Except maybe to printers and trucking companies.

    Still open-minded about it but I’ve a feeling this is a landmark product.

    jb says: Yes, I also feel upbeat about it. I can’t wait to get my hands on one. But I think the comment about not being able to sit on it is very important.

  11. […] Over at John Baker’s blog, a discussion about the new Sony Portable Book Reader […]

  12. Lee says:

    I like your emphasis on content, John. There are pros and cons to the e-reader, my own main worry being compatibility and commercial proprietorship. I’m sure to buy one eventually (like you, cost!), but I want to be able to read all things on it.

    I have a largish collection of books, but to be honest, there are many that I hardly ever go back to. I keep them for reasons that have little to do with reading. And I would certainly welcome a search function, for it’s often that I remember a phrase or metaphor, but not where in the novel it’s found.

    jb says: Hi Lee. Yes, compatability is a high priority. The eventual device will have to be able to read all electronic text, not just tie us into some mammoth ebook-provider’s customized (i.e. exclusive) version of what is good and safe for us to use.

    And a search function for my favourite texts, in fact, all of my texts, would be wonderful.

  13. debi says:

    Just joined in here belatedly. Seems like this one will run and run and quite right too!

    There was an extended discussion on the exact same subject on my blog a while ago …

    jb says: Hi Debi. Strange what gets us going isn’t it? I suppose this is such a hot topic because we all know that the Sony Reader or something else very much like it is coming if we want it or not. We’re not going to get the chance to vote on it, unless you count voting as paying for it. They had a house full of books, they’ll say, our children. Special rooms, just for books.

  14. Lee says:

    Imagine, they also had special rooms just for people…

  15. anne says:

    If the Sony Reader goes on sale in December, is that 2007 or 2008 because we were told in 2006 that it would be a few months after it became available in the Sates. I have been trying to buy one directly from the States ever since it became available but NO LUCK yet!! Help!!

    jb says: Sorry, Anne. I can’t help with this. I’ve put out some feelers about buying the Sony Corporation, but haven’t heard back from them yet. If they come up with a reasonable figure I’ll buy them out and try to make them more efficient.

  16. ben says:

    What happened to the Sony Reader? does it actually exist? Not in the UK seemingly

    jb says: I think you’re right, Ben.

  17. Saira says:

    It is available in the UK now, and I have one! Took me a while to get it set up and figure it out, but this helps:

    I love it!!!!

    jb says: I’d like to play with one for a while.

  18. Svitlana says:

    Hello everybody,

    my name is Svitlana, I am from Germany (Berlin) and a student of communication management. I am writing for the time being my thesis about the Sony Ebook Reader.
    I would like to make an virtual interview with people who allready own that product (maybe via skype, you have only to write).
    Please contact me as fast as possible, tomorrow if you want?? ;))
    I would be so happy!!!

    If you are interested, send me a mail to

    Thank you very much!!


  19. James says:

    This conversation is really good. While I am nostalgic for the days of quill on paper, e-Reader technology is really a blessing in disguise as far getting more published works in the hands of everyone.

    So far, I have read good reviews about the Sony Reader, how has it improved or changed your reading experience?

    As a writer does it worry you about illegal downloading of your work as musicians lose money through mp3 hacking?