The Saga of the Sony Pocket Reader

Dear readers, I have neglected to inform you of a very important development in my reading life - the acquisition of a Sony Pocket Reader. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen my initial disappointments with the thing (the screen broke after only a few weeks of use), but my blog-only followers most likely know nothing of this saga. [Note: Sony replaced the Reader and even let me keep the extra charger. No hard feelings, although the process wasn't quite painless.]

I've let the issue lie for several months so I could give the thing accurate feedback. So far, I must admit, I am less than impressed. The device itself functions well (although I wish it was Wifi-compatible), and the screen is easy to read, etc, etc. In fact, much to my surprise, I have no actual complaints with the device or the technology itself.

Instead, though, I find I have criticisms of my own reading habits when reading digitally. Case in point: I have yet to actually complete a book on the Reader. I've started several - some for work, some e-galleys from NetGalley, a few downloads from Gutenberg (notice I have yet to actually purchase a book, which is enough matter for a separate post) - but have not yet read a "The End" page in e-ink. I've enjoyed those books I started - including Our Tragic Universe, which I had been itching to read for some time, and the first half of Road to Bedlam, which I ultimately completed in paperback and reviewed a few weeks after starting it on the Sony Reader.

No, when I read on the e-ink screen, I for one feel a distinct lack of connection with the words in front of me. Maybe I'm biased - I'm certainly pre-disposed to love the look, feel and smell of printed book - or maybe it's just my own personal reading style, but screen-reading has yet to catch on for me. I gave it a six-month shot, and remain unimpressed.

Am I just using the wrong device? Am I reading the wrong books? Am I going about this in entirely the wrong way? Does anyone else feel this disconnect? For those that do enjoy their e-readers, any advice? It would carve a significant amount of added space into my house if I could start collecting digital files instead of dusty old hardbacks and ARCs I have yet to read...


  1. It took me almost two years before I finished an entire book on my Sony Reader. It was a book that had just been recommended to me by my wife's boss who is not someone to be trifled with! I was thrilled when I found the book in the Sony store, so I bought it without second thought. (BTW, the book is called 'The Village', about a COIN operation during the Vietnam War. I highly recommend it!)

    By the way, the screen on my PRS-500 (1st gen Sony eReader) died about a month ago, right after Andrew was born. I was disconsolate, so I called Sony's customer service and they offered to fix my old one for $100 or sell me a refurbished PRS-600 for the same price. I jumped at the new one and am very pleased with it. Honestly, I think part of your 'problem' may be that the Pocket Edition is too small. Not much bigger than your iPod, right?

  2. I've been struggling with this problem while I debate getting an e-reader: will I actually use it and read a whole book on it? I've downloaded a couple books to my iPod to try that out and while I don't mind the books when I'm reading it, I don't pick it up like I do a real book. It's a last resort, I'm stuck at the laundromat with nothing to do.

  3. Yes, a disconnect.

    For whatever weird psychological reason, I feel I have a real 'relationship' with paper-and-ink type reading; the e-readers are just too sterile and soulless. No matter how many bells and whistles they include, I'm just not invested in them for anything more than reading a quick text or email. Reading an e-book from start to finish? Forget about it.

    Perhaps the next generation of kids who grow up learning to read on an e-reader will fall in love with them. I'm sure there's a market there somewhere. The paper-and-ink books will probably, sadly, go the way of the vinyl record.

  4. I don't have a desire to get an ereader for some of the reasons you listed above. Like you, I don't know that I would be motivated to read an entire book on an ereader because of the disconnect you mentioned. But it sounds like it might have just been the size of your ereader, not the idea of the ereader itself. I hope you enjoy the full-sized one!

  5. I actually love (love, love, love) my Kindle. From the standpoint of a subway rider, I was really drawn in by the fact that I didn't have to lug a book (or two, in some cases) in my bag and around the city, and it's saved my life when stuck with delays on flights and buses (I'm looking at you Delta and Go2Bus).

    Maybe I don't feel the disconnect as much because I pretty much went cold turkey on physical books -- Comics, magazines, and newspapers are all kept in paper format, but other than that, I haven't bought an *actual* book since I opened my Kindle last Christmas.

    It probably has more to do with the fact that I try to toe the line of hipster and nerd. I love the gadgetry of the Kindle (plus the ease of the Kindle store, the fact that I can read/sync books on multiple devices, unlimited wireless, etc.) and the ease of reading compared to something with an LCD screen, plus I feel like part of a secret society of Kindle readers.

    My Kindle has allowed me to restart series I never finished (Wheel of Time), buy books that I constantly forget to pick up in stores (The Widow Cliquot), and read guilty pleasures without the judging glares of fellow commuters (*cough*Twilight*cough*).

    When my Kindle dies, I'll be picking up another Kindle.

  6. John - It gives me a bit of hope to hear it took you so long to connect to it as well. Maybe it's just a matter of finding the right book. And of course yours was a COIN operation!

    Red - I was the same way with my iPod and figured it was a screen size/glare issue. I did actually finish a book on my iPod while we were on our honeymoon, but it was a really heavily plot-based book, which I tend to read differently than more prose-based stories, if that makes any sense.

    Trish - Good point on learning to read on a device, though I'd be sad to see kids no longer reading paper books at all.

    Brenna - That's what I thought when I started reading e-books on my iPod, but the screen on the Pocket Reader (despite its misleading name) is actually a pretty decent size, and the e-ink technology is impressively easy to read.

    K.R. - Anything that gets people to restart the Wheel of Time can't be that bad, right? :-)

  7. I love my Nook for its portability, for the fact that I can carry 67 books in my purse, and for the instant gratification of downloading a book anytime, anywhere. But I still love books more. Nothing electronic matches the sensory experience of holding a book in my hand--so I have a Nook, but also have an overflowing book collection....


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