Kim Kovacs, BookBrowse reviewer
The following is in response to Lynda East's question to Kim after reading her Jan 1st blog "My Secret Addiction".Lynda asks, "Can you comment on the benefits and problems of the Sony eReader versus the Amazon Kindle? Their prices are comparable and both out of my price range right now (like you, my Christmas gift hints fell on deaf ears) ..."
I've thought ebook readers were a nifty idea ever since seeing one in the first Star Trek movie way back in 1979 (the technological dark ages!). I purchased my first digital reader in 1998, but paid the price of being an early adopter when the model I had was discontinued a few years later and I could no longer purchase books for it. I tried reading digital books on my Dell Axim for awhile, but it just wasn't the same. I eventually abandoned that, too, coming to the conclusion that the rest of the world just wasn't as ready for digital books as I was, and contented myself with old-fashioned paper for the next several years.
Then Amazon announced their reader, the
Kindle. As far as I was concerned, the heavens opened and the angels sang on the day I heard about that device! I was certain that with Amazon's prominence, plus their backing of digital paper technology, the ebook was about to see its renaissance. I was all set to buy one early last year ... and then I saw Sony's version and fell head-over-heels in lust.
I proceeded to debate for MONTHS as to which ebook reader to purchase. The Kindle unquestionably has better features. You can get content anywhere, without a computer. It comes with an e-mail account. You can read newspapers and magazines on it. It's got free access to Wikipedia and other web sites. You can write notes in it. It's got a built-in dictionary. The books are generally less expensive.
I'm sorry, but the Kindle is just plain ugly. Its controls look like something out of a bad 1950's sci-fi flick.
And so, I waffled. Should I go with features or design?
My husband, eventually tiring of hearing my non-stop deliberations, asked me why I wanted one, and my response was that I wanted to read books with it. The question made me realize that the features on the Kindle are nice, but unimportant if you don't use them. It was the push I needed. I went with my heart instead of my head. I just couldn't love the Kindle, and so got the Sony PRS-505 in metallic navy blue.
On the plus side, Sony was less expensive than the Kindle, and I got 100 free classics as part of the purchase, most of which I would have bought anyway, thus actually saving money (so I rationalize). The Sony Store frequently offers free books and very low-cost books; most paperbacks are priced comparably to those offered for the Kindle, with new books often being more expensive. I've purchased 12 books averaging out to $10.66 per book - a little higher than the Kindle's $9.99. When you factor in the free books, though, my cost per book drops to $1.08 (118 books in my library). I understand there are more books available for the Kindle than the Sony reader, but so far those on my list are either available in both formats or in neither.
The ideal, of course, would be to combine Sony's design with the Kindle's features. I'm hoping that someday Amazon will improve the appearance of their product. The version due out next year looks even worse than the current one in my opinion, which further influenced my decision (which I haven't regretted for a moment). I doubt the Sony device will be my last ebook, though. Rumor has it Apple is coming out with their version next year (yes, I'm fickle).
Kim adds .... There are about 10 ebook readers on the market, plus you can use Microsoft Reader or Adobe Reader to purchase books in electronic format, readable on any handheld device (like the iPhone, Palm Pilot, Windows Mobile devices, etc.). The other readers are mostly bare-bones versions that don't have enough content available for them to suit my tastes (or most other readers', I imagine).