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Initial Thoughts on my Sony Pocket E-reader

26 February, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to splash out with the last of my wages from my bookselling job and buy an e-reader. I’d wanted one for a while but had set myself a point I had to reach before I could get one: I had to have accumulated free e-books that would have cost more to buy in paperback than the cost of an e-reader.

I’m talking about completely legal free e-books here, for the record. It’s taken me between six months and a year to amass so many, from author websites, giveaways and particularly the Suvudu library. I also cheated a little bit – the price of all these books would probably come to about £100 and the e-reader was a little bit more than that.

Anyway, I want to talk a little bit about the device itself and what I’m making of it. It’s a Sony Pocket, one of the cheapest on the market from any manufacturer. Physically, I love the way it looks and feels – sleek and lightweight (a bit heavier than a small paperback, admittedly, but also lighter than a big hardback, so a very reasonable weight), with a slick metallic finish and a back that feels slightly velvety when you rest your fingers on it. There’s also the added advantage of being able to read and drink a cup of tea at the same time. You can hold the Pocket in one hand and still turn pages, something I could never manage with a paperback. (Okay, I know this sounds stupid, but I drink a lot of tea when I’m reading!)

Other advantages of the Pocket include its ability to read all the major e-formats (PDFs were a big concern for me and although changing the font size does alter their formatting sometimes, they are still easily readable on the device), its long battery life (I’m estimating about a month with my personal reading habits) and its ability to store multiple bookmarks on multiple books (mine’s keeping my place in four books at the moment!).

There are drawbacks, of course, so let’s get them out of the way. You don’t get to see the beautiful cover art or interior layouts of your books – pictures are all in black and white, whilst many free e-books don’t come with covers at all. An e-reader has to be recharged, although on current usage, I think the battery on the Pocket will last about a month for me, as I’ve said. Turning the pages isn’t instant: the screen flashes black before it clears, although this is something I’ve got used to. Most annoyingly, the device does occasionally freeze and have to be reset, which a physical book is clearly never going to do.

For me though, an e-reader has a very specific function, which outweighs all of these complaints. I use it to read free downloaded e-books and short stories, which I would never have read otherwise (I hate reading on a computer screen, which has meant that my consumption of short stories has been very low recently). I can try out authors I wouldn’t have tried any other way with only the cost of the initial outlay for the e-reader – a cost which has already been paid, no matter how many more e-books I acquire. When it comes to actually paying for books, I’ll still continue to buy physical copies, even if I read the first book in the series in electronic form.

Overall, the Sony Pocket is a nice little device, easy to use and much more practical than reading on a computer screen, if you’ve got a lot of electronic reading to do. E-readers obviously aren’t for everyone, but if you’ve got a use for one without having much money, the Pocket is a great low-price alternative that doesn’t limit you to reading one file format.

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