New Firmware for Sony Ereader

Since the closing of the Sony eReader store, access to the Sony store is gone, but the firmware on their eReader devices, I have a PRS-T1, still had a button for the Sony store instead of the Kobo store. Last week, new firmware was released that addresses this.

http://esupport.sony.com/US/p/swu-download.pl?mdl=PRST1&upd_id=9912&os_group_id=6

I installed it this morning without any issues. If you have a PRS-T1, go to the link above, download the new firmware, run it, and follow the instructions to update your device.

Sony Reader Store to Close

The e-ink reader that I have, which admittedly, I don’t actually use a whole lot, is a Sony ebook reader. Recently I have been getting emails from Sony about the demise of the Sony Reader store. They have decided they don’t want to support it anymore and, their customers are being switch to the Kobo store.

Some time this month (March 2014), I am supposed to be sent a link that will allow me to transfer my Sony eReader library to Kobo. Because of DRM, I don’t have a Sony eReader library, and this right here is exactly why I don’t. If you buy DRM protected content, you are at the mercy of where you bought it. When Borders closed down, I didn’t have to go to Barnes and Noble to read books I had bought at Borders. In fact, I didn’t even have to know that Borders was out of business. I could just walk over to my bookshelf, pick up any book I had bought, and read it. I didn’t even have to know whether I had bought it from Borders, or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. It didn’t matter, because I had bought the book and it belonged to me. Until DRM can work the same way, I won’t buy DRM protected content.

Overdrive update has annoying bug

I have been using Overdrive to read books from my local library for years. Their latest update seems to have a very very annoying bug. I suspect it is somehow connected to one of their new features, which I have not started using. The new feature is the ability to create an Overdrive account and then have Overdrive sync between your devices. While this is a great feature, and one which would actually benefit me, because I do read on multiple devices, I haven’t bothered to set it up yet.

Now, however, seemingly at random, when I pick up my Android tablet to read, the book resets to the first page. Something seems to be causing it to not remember where I was anymore. Maybe it is syncing with some none existent device or something. I am used to having to find my place on my tablet if I have been reading on my phone and vice versa, but this restarting at the beginning of the book when I am reading on just one device is really annoying.

Update: Even worse than I thought. I was just reading a book. I spent 5 or 10 minutes getting back to where I had been. Then I went to settle down and get comfortable and in the process, the tablet switched from portrait to landscape view and when I turned it back to portrait view I was back at the beginning of the book. This was without it turning off or anything.

At this point, why wouldn’t you have an eBook reader?

eBook readers and tablets have become so inexpensive, there really isn’t much reason not to have one anymore. If you are, in fact, someone who reads, even if you don’t even read that often. An ebook reader can now be picked up for the cost of a handful of paperbacks, or a couple of hardcovers. In most areas, they also give you access to your local library. Since most people have internet access, they can do this without even setting foot in their library. Even if you didn’t have internet access from home, most libraries will let you use theirs. Even if you did have to go to the library to check out your books, you don’t have to worry about returning them, because they will get returned automatically. There are also many places, including here, where you can download books from the public domain for free.

What this means is, the added convenience of using an ebook reader can pay for itself in a very short time. Currently, you can pick up the Nook Simple Touch for around $40 if you look for a deal, and their top of the line tablet the Nook HD+ can be had for less than $100 more at any Barnes and Noble.

Meanwhile, their main competitor Amazon is offering their eink Kindle in their Kindle store for only $45.

At these prices, if you read at all, there is really no reason not to have one.


Overdrive Media

One of the easiest ways to get free legal content for the ebook and audio book enthusiast is to use the Overdrive Media Player. It is great on both Apple and Android devices, but a lot of media like audio books are unfortunately Windows only.

There are ways to get around that restriction, which I may or may not have talked about before, but unfortunately I was recently having a problem where I couldn’t even get it to play those files in Windows in the actual media player application. The solution was apparently to update it but when I would try to do, so the update would fail. I finally found a solution.

First, follow this link http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=166118

It is a media file that the player will not be able to play, but when it fails to play, it will provide a pop up window with an upgrade button that actually works. Simply click the upgrade option, let it do its think and you will be able to play all the media files that wouldn’t work before.

Harry Potter goes paperless

Go to the front page of an ebook store today and you will see on the front page what many people have been waiting for. Harry Potter is now available as an ebook. It took a long time, but on the front page of Amazon is Harry Potter for the Kindle, on the front page of Barnes and Noble is Harry Potter for the Nook, and it is even on the front page of the Sony ereader store, although they technically had access to it previously if you bought a special version of their ereader.

Up until now, JK Rowling had not let the book into the ebook reading world. She once said she though books should be enjoyed as books, but I guess she has had a change of heart. It seems like it was an inevitability that it would get there eventually.

It does seem notably absent from the Kobo bookstore though.

Your best ebook reader might not be an ebook reader at all

I am extremely glad that the last few years have brought ebook readers into the mainstream. However, I am also a big believer that the best solution for a particular need is not necessarily the same for everyone. We are unique individuals and as such one must weigh the pros and cons as they apply to our particular needs. For this reason, despite the current slew of ebook readers on the market, the Nook, the Kindle, the Pandigital, etc., and despite the fact I was reading ebooks long before any of these devices ever existed, I still don’t own one. I can see their appeal, and I can certainly see how they are the perfect solution for many people, and one day, I may very well buy one myself. So far though, I haven’t purchased one because I haven’t needed one. I already have devices that I use to read ebooks on, and they meet my needs well enough that I haven’t felt a need to improve on them.

I first started reading ebooks on a small Palm device with a monochrome screen and low resolution. I read a lot of books on that device. It was part of why when the Kindle ebooks with their monochrome eInk screens came out, I could see they would be a great solution for a lot of people.

Since that time the devices I use for ebook reading have changed. My first upgrade was to a higher resolution Palm pilot, which still worked fine. Then I moved up to a Nokia N770 tablet. Despite having a much larger and much higher resolution color screen, the reading experience wasn’t that much better on that device. More text was displayed on the screen, but it was a bit bigger, a bit bulkier and the screen had quite a bit more glare. I still used it though, because I always had the device with me, so I could pull it out whenever I had some time to read. My current devices for reading consist of two devices, each much the same. One is a fourth generation iPod touch. It makes an excellent ebook reading device. It has an excellent screen and is miniscule in size and weight making it very portable. My primary device for reading now though is my Android phone, an Optimus V from Virgin mobile. Why? Despite the fact the screen resolution and clarity is not as good, I always have it with me and I often end up reading when I have time. It works fine for me, which is not to say it is for everyone, but I find the small size and the convenience of always having it has prevented getting an eink device a priority.

I have often thought of getting an eink device, but even now, where they are so affordable as to make it almost an impulse purchase, I think of the fact that I would then have two devices to deal with. I might use the eink device at home, but I am pretty sure I would never bring it with me, because I wouldn’t want to carry two devices and I know if I want to read, I can do so on my phone, unless I am outside in the sun. Up until this point this has continued to be enough to prevent me from getting something else. As for the tablets, such as the Nook tablet, the Kindle Fire, the iPad, or the various Android tablets, I often think these would be nice to have as well. But they are bigger, they are heavier, and again, for reading they don’t really offer any benefit to me over something like an iPod touch or my phone. The only benefit would be having more text on the screen per page, so you wouldn’t have to tap the screen as much to turn the page. For that advantage, you have to give up the portability a smaller device provides. For that reason, I haven’t bought one of those either. I can certainly see their appeal, but I already have a laptop, a netbook, a phone, and I don’t see how adding yet another device to my life would make it better.

So the point of this post is to simply point out for someone considering reading ebooks for the first time to possibly look at some of the devices you already own. Just because something is not labeled as an ebook reader, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work well for that purpose. Just because ebook readers are roughly the size of existing books doesn’t make them better. Books are the size they are because to make them smaller would result in a book too thick to comfortable handle. Electronic devices don’t have that problem. In fact the device I think might get me to buy a stand alone ebook reader would be an eink device with a screen the size of a phone or iPod touch. One that was easily pocketable and had amazing battery life. Something the size of an iPod touch, but with an eink display. The iPod touch fills that spot nicely for the moment, but if you didn’t need all of its added functionality, an equivalent eink device would be nice to have.

New Nook debuts Competition is a good thing

Barnes and Noble announced yet another Nook tablet today. This adds a third choice to their current lineup of color ebook readers. There is now the Nook Color, who’s price has now dropped to $169. The 8Gb Nook Tablet, which has a faster CPU, and the 16GB Nook tablet with double the storage and double the RAM. These tablets are in a kind of niche category compared to other tablets, because they are marketed less for their tablet ability and more for their ability to be used to read books and magazines. As such they are missing a few things most other tablets have, mainly front and read facing cameras and GPS receivers. They also run modified versions of the Android operating system, but through the use of the SD slot, this can be circumvented. If you just want to use them for their intended purpose though, they are more than capable, even the original $169 Nook Color.

Is advertising a reader based on a book you can’t get false advertising?

I was in a local store the other day and they had all of the current ebook readers lined up. There are quite a few. I was looking at them when I caught my eye that surprised me. The demo on the Sony reader was showing Harry Potter. I was a bit surprised, because to the best of my knowledge, it still hadn’t been released in ebook form. Looking at the demo that was running on the display model would have certainly led me to believe that if I bought that ebook reader, I would be able to read the Harry Potter books right away, because it was already on there it seemed. I went over to the reader at that time and tried to pull up the book. As soon as I did that, any reference to Harry Potter was gone. It was only shown in a couple of screens that flashed for just a few seconds in the demo.

I came home and fired up Google to see if I had missed something. Had Harry Potter been released? This is one of the books I always use as an example when people ask me about ebook readers and which one they should buy. I tell them ebook readers are great and all but just be aware that not ALL books are available as ebooks, for example, Harry Potter, and they are usually quite surprised to discover this and I think a lot of people don’t find out about this until they go to buy the books and can’t find them.

The only articles I could find about Harry Potter and Sony ereaders were from around August when it was announced Harry Potter had an agreement with Sony. I found other more recent articles saying the Harry Potter ebooks had been pushed back and wouldn’t be available until sometime in 2012.

I couldn’t find anything to say that if you bought a Sony ebook reader, you would be able to get a copy of Harry Potter to read on it right now. You might get a coupon so you could download it when it comes out, but it doesn’t seem to be out. Wouldn’t advertising an ebook reader with what is arguably one of the most popular books of all time, when that book is not available for that reader, be false advertising?

So you got a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Android Tablet for Christmas

Christmas has passed, and this was the year of the tablet/ebook reader. The Kindle Fire, the Nook color, the standalone e-ink ebook readers and Apple’s products. Traffic on my site spiked 300% yesterday with everyone looking for information about what to do with their new ebook readers. I thought I would respond with a little post for all the new members of the ebook reading world. Welcome.

First off, despite the fact the Kindle and the Nook color are both built off the same platform, the formats they support out of the box are different. If you want to buy books for your Kindle, then go to Amazon.com. If you want to buy books for your Nook color, then you can go to Barnes and Noble.com. If you have some other ebook reader or tablet, you will need to find out what formats your device supports and act accordingly. Apple devices can get books from the Apple store with the iBooks App, or you can install the Kindle or Nook Apps and use them to buy from either of those stores as well. If you have an Android device, you can buy books from the Google bookstore in the Android market. This website is, and has always been, more about how to get books that are FREE and LEGAL and how to convert them so they can be read on whatever device you happen to have. In that spirit, that is what I am going to talk about today, for the new ebook/tablet owner that is looking for information.

The first thing you will want to know about is the Gutenberg Project. This is a collection of public domain ebooks readily available in a variety of formats for most of the current popular devices. When getting books from Gutenberg, if you have a Nook, you are going to want the ePub format which is an open standard. If you have a Kindle you are going to want the Kindle format, which is really an adaptation of a format called MobiPocket. If you are using a tablet or an iPad, you can download whatever you want as long as you have an App for the format you want to read installed on your device. This is not necessarily just Kindle or Nook or Apple or Google. If you are using Android, I highly recommend you grab fbReader to read ePub documents from Gutenberg. Again, these books are free, as they are in the public domain. Amazon, and Barnes and Noble may offer some of the same titles for free, but of course they will be willing to sell them to you as well. Always check Gutenberg first to see if what you want is there. It is a great opportunity to read some of the old classics as well.

If you obtain a book that you want to read on your device, but it is not in a compatible format, you are going to need to convert it before you can read it on your device. You can use our conversion pages here. There is also some excellent software that makes the process a little more user friendly called Calibre. It automates the process of converting back and forth between many of the most popular ebook formats and helps you keep track of your library as well.

One thing you are going to find different about having an ebook reader is if a book isn’t in the public domain and you have to buy every book you want to read, the costs can add up pretty fast. Not a lot of people bought EVERY book they read before ebooks. You got them from friends or borrowed them, etc.. This is where your local library comes in. Many libraries now have ebooks available and you don’t even have to set one foot in your library to get them. Go to the website of your local library to see what they have to offer. Chances are they have more than you think, but you might have to wait for them for awhile. They don’t have an unlimited number of copies of each title and with all the new ebook readers out there, there can be some lengthy wait times for the more popular titles. However, you can get new current titles from your local library for free.┬áIf you don’t already have a library card with the local library you may need to go in to sign up, but once you have one you can browse and borrow without even leaving your house. While you are there, you may also want to ask if they have any cooperative exchange programs with other libraries in the area. Some libraries do this allowing members of a nearby library to also get a membership to their library. This opens up even more selection and since you don’t have to go to the library it doesn’t matter if it is a little farther away.

One last thing that no one probably told you about your ebook reader. Some books simply are not available in ebook format. You may be surprised to find, for example, that to date the Harry Potter series is still not available in ebook format, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find some titles in the online bookstore.

For the books that are available though, reading books on an electronic device is very convenient. Good luck and welcome to the ebook reading world. If you like reading books, hopefully you will love reading ebooks.