Thursday, 25 September 2008
Sony Reader: Stuck-in-a-Book's verdict
The Sony Reader arrives about 11am with the postman, in the middle of a coffee morning/bookshop thing we do in our garage/drive every Saturday morning. I open the package excitedly, and the Reader gets a lot of interest from those sitting at the tables. My first thought is definitely favourable - it's sleek, compact, not too look-at-me-and-all-my-shiny-buttons. I would be able to hold it and still feel like a book geek rather than a computer geek and that, my friends, is an important distinction.
One point. Yes, leather bound (hopefully, probably, faux leather) - is this to match the rest of my leather bound books? Cos I've gotta tell you, I don't have a lot of them. At last count it was none. But I suppose this probably isn't a snobbery thing; they couldn't really put it in a Virago paperback cover, could they now.
I open the enormous instruction sheet - one large sheet, rather than a booklet - and see that my first plan of action is to plug it in and charge it up.
I'm afraid my inital excitement subsided whilst it was charging. Didn't take that long, but the novelty wore off whilst it was charging... I'll be back to it tomorrow...
Hugely impressed by the number of books available on the website - and some for only 80p. And I've loaded Kim by Rudyard Kipling. I've flicked through forty odd pages of introduction and other paratextual bits and bobs, before I realise that I could have gone through the Table of Contents function. My fault for not exploring everything first. Having looked at the Table of Contents, I see that I can select the Intro, the Note, the Map... can I choose somewhere in the middle of the book? Only by typing in that page number. Well, if I know it, that's fine... Can I search for a phrase or something? Not that I can discover. But, then, I can't do that with a normal book.
Reading Kim. Perhaps doesn't help that I'm not *loving* the book itself - more on that in a different post. I read recently that words on the screen encourage the 'power browse' - skimming over a section of text, seeking salient points only. Took a while to stop myself doing that. Once trained, though, the reading experience is surprisingly pleasant - it doesn't feel like reading a computer screen (not back lit) and, though it doesn't feel *exactly* like reading a normal book, it's much closer than I thought. I do have to wear my glasses to read (I think it's my astigmatism which makes anything on a screen go blurry....?) but that is becoming increasingly true whatever I read.
What other functions does it? I like the 'bookmark' bit - I press a button and it folds down the corner of the page, and makes a record of it in a separate section on the menu. This I enjoy because I could never do it with a normal book - but here it's only the pixels being moved around, not a book being damaged. Bonus.
I can make the text bigger, I can see which pages I've looked at recently. There are probably lots of other things it can do, but I've not worked them out yet.
Much better than I expected. The main quibbles I have are slightly silly - I found it strange to read something on the right-hand side only. The screen going black between each page turn, momentarily, is off-putting. But I anticipated finding the experience rather unpleasant and wholly unbookesque - and it was much nicer than I'd imagined. Still the only advantage over a normal book, that I can think, is being able to carry a lot at once (mine came with a CD of 100 classics).
Very glad to have tried it, but the future of the book is in no danger. I shan't be transferring over just yet - but neither will I be quite so sceptical.