I spent all day Thursday playing with my Sony Reader. And I do mean ALL DAY. If anyone else is thinking about buying one, here are some helpful hints:
- I have a ton of scholarly journal articles in PDF format that I wanted to read on the Sony Reader. It is possible to read them, but the font is a bit small. Sometimes the zoom function doesn’t work well with PDFs since it basically reformats the flow of text, but you can also hold down the zoom button for 5 seconds, and it will change the orientation of the page to landscape, which makes the font slightly bigger (you will have to hold the Reader sideways, of course). I haven’t had any problems reading my PDF files so far!
- I did have a problem with the metadata in PDFs though. When authors of PDFs save their files, sometimes they don’t fill in the title and author fields in Properties. The Sony Reader uses this information to store the files (by title or by author). So if these fields are missing, or if these fields contain something else (the file’s location, the file’s actual name, etc.) it will majorly screw up the list of “books” on your Reader. And of course, unless you have the full version of Adobe, you cannot change this information. However, I found a program called BeCyPDFMetaEdit that does allow you to update the Metadata for PDF files. I have been able to change the titles and authors of all of my journal articles, except for two (because they were password-protected.)
- The actual Sony Reader format for books is LRF (also called BBeB book). You can use a program called Calibre to convert files to this format, but it didn’t seem to work well for my PDF files, so I have just left them all as PDFs. Also, it will not convert image-based PDF files. Calibre is designed to be a “complete e-book library solution” so you may like it better than the eBook Library Software that comes with the Reader.
- If you want to make your own “books” for the Reader, it will also accept EPUB, TXT, RTF and unsecured DOC formats. The Word documents will be reformatted to RTF files for you during transfer, so you must have MS Word on your computer. Personally, I’ve just been using OpenOffice to create my own PDF files (with a font size of at least 24 so it can be easily read without having to zoom), but the text-based files obviously show up just as well.
- You can also play audio files with extensions of .mp3, .mp4, .m4a, .mov, and .qt (you must listen with headphones as there are no speakers). It is possible to read a book while listening to the mp3, so it may be useful for podcasts. You can also view pictures with extensions of .bmp, .gif, .jpg, or .png (in black & white, of course) and you have the option of turning on a slideshow.
- The internal memory is 210 MB, and you can also use PRODuo and SD memory cards if that’s not enough space for you.
- There is no back light, so you must have another source of light (remember, it’s just like a real book!)
- If you buy the Reader before March 31, you can download 100 free classics from the eBook Store for free. Granted, these books are all in the public domain and so they are free anyway (through Project Gutenberg), but they’re already in the LRF format and specifically designed for the Sony Reader. There are 930 books to choose from, including a few political documents, such as the Constitution of the US and even the Patriot Act!
If anyone has other questions about what the Reader can do, let me know.