July 30, 2009

Changing the Way We Read

Recently Serona and purchased Sony Ereader Books, he bought the 505 model and I bought the Sony 700. I have been following electronic book technology for a few years now, both excited and hesitant at the same time. I loved the concept, thought the price point was too high, and positive I would miss holding a physical book.

The Amazon Kindle has received most of the attention recently but I was much more impressed with Sony, especially by their lack of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and deal with Google Books. I received quite a bit of birthday money recently from family and decided it was time to give it a try and I have no regrets, I love my ebook reader.

I have had it for about 2 months now and have read 7 complete books and parts of another 8 books that are ongoing now. I have noticed some changes in the way I read and some overall advantages and uses I did not expect. During this time I also went on a 2 week vacation on which I brought the reader. The rest of my reading has been done at home, in the car, at my kids swim practice, at doctors offices and other various errand locations.

A few things I noticed right away. I did not miss holding a physical book at all. The Sony Reader has a nice cover that allows me to hold it in the same fashion as a book if I want to. I can also fold the cover back and have easy one handed reading. The ereader has solved two major issues I have had with reading for a long time: reading one handed and the unwieldy size of many of the books I read. After trying to carry and comfortably read Atlas Shrugged (my last read before this purchase) I found the form factor of the ereader to be delightful. I am currently reading another similarly sized book and find it no more challenging than a small paperback. Since I read often lying down I have always been seeking a one handed solution, trying book weights, stands, and everything of the like, never being satisfied. With the ereader I can easily accomplish both single handed and hands free reading with ease and comfort.

The way the reader has changed my reading style is the fact that I now carry so many books with me all the time. I read more and I read more variety and I rarely get bored of reading anymore because I can switch books instantly. My reader currently has 128 books on it, of those I have only purchased 12, the rest have been acquired legally through free means, mostly from Google books and the free promotions on Sony. This has expanded some of the reading choices I am making as well.

Before the reader I typically was always reading a fiction and non fiction book at the same time, a special book read aloud for each of my kids, a family read aloud and my bible. However I could not carry all of those books with me all the time so it would vary which I was reading and depending on the size of the book which I might bring with me on errands. Now I have all of them everywhere I go. I find my bible reading time has dramatically increased as I always have it with me and I love being able to highlight and save notations (side margin notes) I also can read my youngest a chapter from her special book while in a waiting room for the other children and then switch to my book when she is having her appointment. If I get tired of the fiction book I can switch to a chapter of my non fiction. It is wonderful. I always take the book with me because it fits easily into my purse and is so lightweight. It is easy to pull out for just a few minutes reading and the book knows right where I left off in every single book!

Perhaps the moment I realized how much I really loved my ereader was on vacation. I finished 2 different books on vacation and started several others with my kids. Contrast that with my husband who brought his one hardback book and finished it midway through the trip and had nothing left to read. His book was much larger in size and weight compared to my reader yet at the end of the trip he was carrying dead weight. He chose not to purchase another book on the trip but did start reading one of my books on my reader when I was not using it. When we returned we purchased him an ereader of his own.

Serona typically only reads one book at a time besides his Bible so I am curious to see if he loves his as much as I love mine. However he travels quite a bit more than me and I think will love the portability of the book and no longer worrying about finishing the last chapter of his book before he leaves for the airport. One thing is probably true the airport bookstores will be losing money from him :)

Our 10 year old daughter has been eyeing the ereader and as her birthday just passed she asked can I have one of those? She knew realistically she was not getting one as we had spent her birthday in Walt Disney World! They will need to come down quite a bit in pricepoint before I buy her one but she is someone who would also benefit from them and if they hit the $100 or less mark I could see us purchasing one for her. Of course then I have to feed her reading habit so maybe I will add when the device and book prices come down or when the library gets better about offering digital books for reading. Our local library is testing a digital book reader program now and the larger library near us has one in place, all in good time I suppose.

So would I recommend the Sony EReader? Yes but they are expensive and truthfully the technology is going to always be advancing and eventually the prices are going to drop more and more. I would without a doubt recommend it over the Amazon Kindle with its tight DRM restrictions and ability to remotely delete your books, which they recently used. For the run of the mill reader it might be better to wait another year or two until the market sorts itself out with more options and price competition. For the avid reader who is looking to read more, carry less and have multiple books available to them at a single time no matter where they are then I would say absolutely. These also really make sense to replace textbooks in the near future and save all our kids breaking backs, well maybe not the homeschoolers backs :0


  1. I was so interested to read this post. We are avid readers (all five of us) and are preparing to go abroad for a year in Sept. 2010. I will most likely be homeschooling our three children (they will be 9, 7 and 7). I can't imagine being able to take all the books that we will need for an entire year and so have been looking in to EReaders. I wonder how many we might need. My 9 year old daughter is NEVER without a book and my 7-year-olds are quickly following in her footsteps. Any advice or imput?

  2. Sony is the way to go then because you can use the same books for multiple readers which with multiple readers you will definitely want. Also with young children you will be able to take advantage of all the free classics and wonderful childrens stories available for free through Sonny Google Books program.

    As for how many? How much does your budget allow for. Maybe 2 or 3 depending if you all read at the same time. You can put your books and their books on the same one.

    If you are concerned they not have access to some of your books you could store those books on an sd card that can be added to the reader only when you use it. Simply remove the sd card when you are done and you will have just the child friendly books you stored on the readers hardrive.

    Sony just announced a new lower end model that will likely hit the market at $199. I look at that as the price of 20 books at $10 each but you get so many more books then that even just using the free google books.

    I might consider purchasing one model that allows you to add your own pdfs and word documents (not sure if the newer cheaper models will) simply because you might want to use it for homeschooling in that way. You could download materials from Ambleside Online for example to read and use on your reader as well.

    If we were in that position I think we would likely purchase 2 readers for the kids to share, maybe a third for the adults to share and then if all three kids really want to read at the same time the 3rd child can use the adults reader?

    I think you would find it worth your money. Though 2 cheaper models makes more sense than buying a 700 in your circumstances I would think. Wait a little bit until the new Sony's are released would be my advice. You can see the current Sony505 in many Target stores near their ipods. It will give you a pretty good feel for it.