Friday, 14 January 2011

Guess Who Got an E-reader? Yes me, a Sony PRS-350 to be precise…

image  Despite once thinking that E-readers were products of the devil, some time after Christmas I decided to get myself one. All I can say is that I have been taken over by the Shiny New Gadget disease that’s going around town. I just had to have it… and now I have one. Yay!

The Sony PRS-350 is a 5" Pocket version of the 650 – which is 6" and considerably more expensive.

So, after forking out one hundred and thirty four (including postage) quid to I (im)patiently waited for my device to arrive, feeling slightly apprehensive. Why was I getting myself an E-reader? I like books, I like the smell, the feel, the touch… now I was going to be resigning myself to a cold metal thing that smells of nothing. It’s surprising how quickly I became used to it though. I do not think I’ll ever get over my love for a real book that you can hold and touch – but it has it’s advantages.

I decided to go with the Sony because I liked how sleek and smart it looked – without too many buttons and things to distract me from the fact it is a cold electronic device. I can hold it and turn the pages by simply wiping my finger across as if I was actually turning a page. You swipe your finger to the left to go forward, and right to go back. It has a very responsive touch screen and e-ink technology really does make you feel as if you’re reading paper. Also, as we do not have a huge range of E-readers in the UK yet I thought that it was the best option available. The Kindle felt like it was forcing me to use Amazon exclusively and I’m not interested in that. The others out there did not appeal and Sony has high ratings all over the place, so I felt it was a pretty safe buy. Plus I’ve always liked Sony products – my current MP3 is a Sony Walkman and the only thing that is going wrong with it is the W. logo is starting to peal away from the front.

I really like the built in dictionary and being able to highlight text, annotate and draw silly pictures. It comes with its very own little stylus so you don’t have to put grubby fingerprints across the screen. All in all, I think I like it.

I have never had another E-reader before, so I cannot compare it to any others. All I can say is that I really do like my Sony Reader and it doesn’t bother me that it doesn’t have wifi, 3g or whatever like the Kindle. Not being able to download books on the hoof isn’t a major concern for me. I think that the Sony Reader is a good little contraption and as of yet, I haven’t found any faults.

I’m still kind of in mixed minds about E-readers on a whole. Half of me really loves my own E-reader, but then there’s the other part of me that feels kinda weirded out by the whole electronic book thing. Am I a traitor to print? What would Johannes Gutenberg, the bloke who invented the printing press be thinking now? Would be be rolling in his grave?

On E-reading as a whole… there’s the ups and the downs. I hope they don’t signify the end of print books. It’s hard not to think like a fuddy duddy sometimes about all this ‘new technology’ stuff. Will it be the downfall of books? Will the quality of books go down? I notice that many of the books I do want are not actually in the electronic format! Popular or more recent books are available, but not always older ones. In time, I guess, in time.

So, E-reading in general… is still a kind of mixed bag for me, but it definitely has it’s plus points. It’s much easier to pick up a book now then before.


  • Free classics from the Gutenberg Project and Feedbooks. I prefer Feedbooks for having a better designed website and better ease of use – also the ebooks they provide I find are much better quality. I feel I have access to many books that I’ve been interested in, but not willing to buy – so I will be able to read lots of different books I would have otherwise.
  • Light and easy to hold – very good for those bricks that weigh an absolute tonne. I’m no longer going to get neck ache leaning over a brickish book or find it heavy or awkward to hold in bed.
  • Less distracting. I’m a fiddler and a picker. If there’s something to fiddle with, I fiddle with it, including book covers and fanning pages. Maybe this is just me, but I also find that I’m no longer so concerned with how much of the book I’ve read or got less – I am less conscious of the length and so very long books no longer seem so daunting.
  • It is visually easier to read. I was unsure about the pocket version – thinking it would be too small. I only got it because it was the cheapest - £119 on the Waterstones website where as on Amazon it was £150 and the 650 even more at £214. However I find it easier to concentrate on a smaller ‘page’ and what with being able to change the font size it does make it easier. I’m no longer going to have to squint at small text unless I want to. With some books, my eyes tend to wonder or get tired but not so much with my E-reader.
  • I love looking through the books on my shelves, but there is something about being able to lie down in bed and look through all the books on my E-reader, feeling excited about reading them all that is difficult to do with my other book shelf considering how wedged in they all are. (Not to mention the box that I can’t even get into my room.)
  • I can now keep on buying books indiscriminately without worrying about space.
  • I do not have to dig through every book in my shelf to get to the one at the very back… it is easily accessible with no trouble at all on that score.


  • I haven’t taken it outside yet because the weather has been crap lately what with it raining cats and dogs – a slightly damp book is no problem. Wet E-reader however is another kettle of fish. I look forward to showing it off (it’s my new baby!) but at the same time don’t want to flash a rather expensive bit of equipment about. I don’t think I’d be able to replace it anytime soon if it were damaged, lost or stolen.
  • It doesn’t feel or smell like a book. There’s something about the smell of the pages, the ink… you just don’t get that. It takes away the satisfaction of getting a new book. The rush happens quickly because you get to look at it instantly – but that’s it. It doesn’t fill that space of excitement when you get a new book. Nothing can beat picking a new book of the shelf or receiving a little white package from The Book Depository.
  • There are no book covers. The E-books I have bought have both been quite plain – understandably enough. Although my E-reader can show images – it is only in black and white and there is just something about the work and the art that goes into a book cover. Nor is there the description on the back, and when I read a book there’s always this ritual that I do. I look at the back cover, the front cover and flick through the pages and get a feel. When buying ebooks online – or any book online I suppose – you don’t really get to look through it first. Online previews (most only easily available on Amazon) just aren’t the same and I can’t always get a feel of the book.


The cons weigh more heavily on my heart then the more uplifting pros, but overall I think I do love my new E-reader and am very pleased I got one.

I also bought myself purple Cover up to keep my Reader safe. imageIt’s really good quality and cost £20 which is quite a lot, but I think worth it. It’s a really good fit and the E-reader slips into it snug and safe. It smells of leather which isn’t quite a booky smell (anymore anyway, I suppose in the past it might have been), but at least it smells of something other then nothing. It’s still very light and comfortable to hold – a little bit more like a book, although I’ve become quite used to not having to hold a cover open!

I really like the detail of the stitches around the edges – it gives it a very nice sort of authentic feel – smart, but bookish at the same time. It could easily be mistaken for a journal, or a pocket diary now and I’m going to feel safter carrying it around now – knowing the screen won’t crack or get dirty.

I’m still quite nervous about carrying over a hundred pounds worth of equipment around. At least with a paper book if you lose it, or if it’s stolen you know that it’d be easy enough to replace – and whoever stole it will be pretty disappointed, unless they’re an avid reader. However, I’ve never heard of people pinching bags just to get hold of the book inside. If someone wanted the book that bad I’d just give it to them!

purple chop

Who else out there has an E-reader? How do you feel about yours and why did you choose that particular make? Or do you think that E-readers are the spawn of satan and should be burnt along with all the book traitors who read them? Are they the end of books as we know them? Ebooks have become more and more possible, in the US I believe they even took over traditional books… is this a new era of literature?

Also, what makes me think – do you think that having E-readers will change the books themselves – will they have an affect on style, writing, story – publication? I think publishers will have to start operating differently as it will be much easier to publish books now – even without all the marketing power. Will this be good or bad?


  1. I have a Kindle and I've been enjoying it for being able to get some free YA amazon books, netgalley had a connection with them, but it just got foiled (sad sad on that end...) and I like to have the option to accept e-books knowing that I will read them now with a reader - the ones on the computer are kinda hard to concentrate on. I don't plan on spending a ton on ebooks and still love the feel of books, but it's nice to be up on reading technology and have options open for review books.

  2. I have no e-reader, but I would like to have one someday. They would be handy for reading nonfiction particularly, because I wouldn't get intimidated by their thickness. :p

  3. Yes - NF books were one of the reasons I wanted my ereader. Unfortunately, the NF books I want to read aren't available as ebooks! Woe.



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