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Old 11-23-2007, 12:33 PM   #1
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Bought a PRS-505, but thinking of sending it back. Help?

I love reading, and have decided to plunge into eink. After two weeks of near-constant (agonizing, exhausting) internal debate, and reading hundreds of posts on this site, I ordered a PRS-505 last weekend. It's en route to me now, and should reach my anxious paws sometime next week. (EARLY next week... I hope. )

Now I'm wondering if I made the right decision. I'm concerned about content availability, and am considering sending the Reader back, unopened, and ordering a Cybook 3 instead. I'd be interested in your opinions on the matter before I tear into the Sony packaging.

The relevant facts...
  • I used to reside in the US, but don't anymore. I still have a US mailing address and credit card.
  • Most of my leisure reading is "the classics" -- PG stuff. However, I would like access to current / recent releases (primarily nonfiction). I've perused several ebook stores, and there are many commercial offerings I'd like to buy.
  • I expect to read a lot of my own stuff. I'm a magazine editor in one of my roles, and hope to move a lot of my submission reviewing off paper and onto eink.
  • I also expect to make extensive use of the available conversion tools to read online news sites offline.
  • I'm cozy with the Unix command line and XHTML, so converters don't scare me. (My main dig is OSX, but I also have access to XP and Linux boxes.)
  • I much prefer the PRS-505 design (form factor and UI) to the Cybook's.
  • I'm assuming this will be my first dedicated reader, but not my last. Something better will come along, and I expect to be upgrading within 18 months or so. This is important because I don't want to be tied to a DRM scheme that has no future.

So, the options seem to be...
  1. Keep the 505, register as a US resident in the Connect store.
  2. Keep the 505, buy MS Reader books and use convertlit on them.
  3. Keep the 505, read only the stuff I can get DRM-free. Wait (hope? pray?) til Sony gives us access to Adobe Digital Editions. (Sometime next year. Right? Right? Please? Pretty please?)
  4. Return the 505, unopened. Pay shipping and taxes as a penance for my impulsiveness. Order a Cybook 3. Wait til they start shipping again. Wait some more. Buy into Mobipocket DRM.

Where I need help from you...

I'm having trouble with this decision because I don't have definitive answers to a few questions:
  • Options 1 and 2 seem like easy answers, but are they legal? Are they morally wrong? (I know the legal issues of converting have been addressed in other threads. I'm not convinced there's a definitive answer yet.)
  • If Sony were to give us access to DE on the 505, does this mean I'll be able to purchase and read the books that ebook stores (e.g. Fictionwise) label as "Adobe Reader" books?
  • As I understand it, most of these are PDFs. Is this correct? Does this mean they'll be almost illegible in the 505's tiny screen?
  • Does Mobipocket have a future, or is it due to become Kindlewear (or a victim thereof) at some point? (Note: Kindle is not an option for me.)

If Adobe DE on the 505 is a real possibility (from what I've been reading, it seems to be), and this gives me access to purchasing and reading "Adobe Reader" books, I think I'll be happy with the 505. The sole reason I'd consider a Cybook over the Sony is Mobipocket DRM; it seems I can legally buy and download Mobipocket books where I live.

Am I making mountains out of molehills? What do you think?
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:21 PM   #2
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A nice thorough analysis of your problem. I can only throw you one answer, one question, and hope you make the right decision for you. The one answer is that PDFs that are formatted for A4 or letter pages (that would be about 99.9% of all PDFs) look awful on a Sony. You can see them but they really are not readable. The PDFLRF utility available on this forum will do a good job of fixing them up so that you can read them on your Sony. It's a very functional utility and saved me since I have many such documents. The one question is how would your decision tree look if Sony expanded their sales outside the U.S. soon? I can't believe this is meant to be permanent and if it changes you'll have no problems using it in Canada. But no one seems to know the reason Sony and Amazon have both started this way and so who knows if or when they will change. Good luck!
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Old 11-23-2007, 08:26 PM   #3
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Most publishing rights (and this goes back over 100 years to before the US signed on to international copyright agreements) are set up for the world except the US and the US as two (2) different agreements. So far as we know Sony and Amazon have only secured US agreements. The future is anyone's guess.

Even if Adobe DE is implemented on the 505 the only books that will "work" are those formatted in DE that have reflow implemented. Older page centric PDFs will still be unreadable on a 6" screen.

Good luck with your electronic reading, which ever way you decide. (I would keep the 505.)
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Old 11-24-2007, 12:19 AM   #4
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I would agree with your assessment that there isn't a definitive answer on 1 and 2. If you're not comfortable doing them I would recommend that you go with 4. Unfortunately your desire to not be tied to a DRM scheme that has no future would drive you to option 2. Since you still have a US mailing address and credit card though I think you're in much better position to stick with the Sony.

None of us can predict the future although we all like to pretend. The announced Borders/Sony store might give you additional future options and who knows Sony might start selling in your country within the next 4 months.

My personal opinion is that your option 2 is as likely to go away in the future as the Mobipocket format. To further complicate it I believe that options 2 & 3 would also be available for option 4.

Sorry I can't be more help other then to say I had the same decisions and went with the Cybook.
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Old 11-24-2007, 03:25 PM   #5
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Thanks for your replies!

I realize there is no such thing as "future-proof" DRM. It's unfortunate that publishers have not been able to get their act together on standardizing this stuff; IMO this is a big reason why ereading is not more mainstream.

At the moment, I'm leaning heavily towards keeping the PRS-505. If Sony starts selling ebooks beyond the US, so much the better.
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Old 11-25-2007, 07:40 AM   #6
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If I were you I'd send the sony back. I wouldn't want to have to resist temptation to buy books from sony, which i would presumably eventually lose, nor do I want to deal with a company that acts like the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Obviously there's no "future-proof" drm, but at least mobipocket will also run on your palm, laptop, cell phone, and random other future devices you might buy. I won't buy anything that expects a one-format-to-one-device DRM model.

It'd be like if DVD's were a brand new invention and one company had a special size of DVD with patents on it so it couldn't be used in any other player besides the one they made. Would you buy the fancy special DVD player? probably not.

Right now I'm leaning towards the Hanlin v3. It currently has no DRM options (except some funny wolf format that I'll ignore). It supports lots of other formats, and maybe I'll try that convertlit thing you mentioned if need be. I think they're planning mobipocket support. Hopefully they'll support other DRM formats in the future too as they come out. If I like the v3 I'll probably buy their v9 too some day when it comes out.
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Old 11-25-2007, 08:57 AM   #7
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If you were to return the 505 and go for a Gen3, you might run into some major issues in your reading preferences. Mobipocket being an old format was developed for PDAs. Such that images are small. So small in fact that they won't look good on a Gen3 or iLiad. You read nonfiction and if the images in any of those books are important, your reading experience will be poor. If you keep the 505 and go the MS Reader format to LRF, then you'll find you'll have a better experience given that the images will be larger.
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:24 AM   #8
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Interesting. I knew Mobipocket was an older format, but I didn't realize it was technically inferior. OTOH, there seems to be a much wider selection of Mobi books... earlier today, BooksOnBoard showed the following breakdown:

104,782 - Adobe Reader
60,515 - Mobipocket
36,172 - Microsoft LIT

A few of the titles I'm interested in reading are there... in Mobi format only. There also seems to be a lot of stuff available in Adobe format, hence my interest in having DE available as an option.

In any case, content availability is not a huge issue for me. Like I said in my original post, most of my reading consists of public domain works or stuff I already have access to. I'm sure either device would work fine with these materials.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
If you were to return the 505 and go for a Gen3, you might run into some major issues in your reading preferences. Mobipocket being an old format was developed for PDAs. Such that images are small. So small in fact that they won't look good on a Gen3 or iLiad. You read nonfiction and if the images in any of those books are important, your reading experience will be poor. If you keep the 505 and go the MS Reader format to LRF, then you'll find you'll have a better experience given that the images will be larger.
Wasn't the conclusion in another thread that this was only true if the image format was gif and that you did not have any example of a file in lit format that gave to small images when converted with mobigen. If you have a lit file with this problem I am very interested to test it and if there is a problem write a program that fixes it.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:16 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by micomicon View Post
Interesting. I knew Mobipocket was an older format, but I didn't realize it was technically inferior. OTOH, there seems to be a much wider selection of Mobi books... earlier today, BooksOnBoard showed the following breakdown:

104,782 - Adobe Reader
60,515 - Mobipocket
36,172 - Microsoft LIT

A few of the titles I'm interested in reading are there... in Mobi format only. There also seems to be a lot of stuff available in Adobe format, hence my interest in having DE available as an option.

In any case, content availability is not a huge issue for me. Like I said in my original post, most of my reading consists of public domain works or stuff I already have access to. I'm sure either device would work fine with these materials.
Fictionwise has the following breakdown....

21,554 - MS Reader
18,712 - Mobipocket
12,105 - Adobe
15,651 - Multiformat (multiple formats with no DRM including LRF)

Simon & Schuster sell their ebooks via their website at a lower cost (usually) and have MS Reader, Adobe, and eReader.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:18 AM   #11
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Thanks for your replies!

I realize there is no such thing as "future-proof" DRM. It's unfortunate that publishers have not been able to get their act together on standardizing this stuff; IMO this is a big reason why ereading is not more mainstream.

At the moment, I'm leaning heavily towards keeping the PRS-505. If Sony starts selling ebooks beyond the US, so much the better.
Good choice. The good news is that I don't think you could have made a bad choice between the two. Enjoy.

To be honest with myself if I was in your position (American credit card and mailing address) I would have already purchased the PRS-500 when it was first announced.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:22 AM   #12
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Wasn't the conclusion in another thread that this was only true if the image format was gif and that you did not have any example of a file in lit format that gave to small images when converted with mobigen. If you have a lit file with this problem I am very interested to test it and if there is a problem write a program that fixes it.
I've never seen an MS Reader books with the same problem of small graphics. But I have seen the problem with a Mobipocket file where the graphics are very important to the book. So in effect because f backwards computability, the Mobi format book was a total bit of useless nothing. What Mobipocket needs to do is rewrite the readers for PDAs/cell phones and other smallish screens and make it so the images get reduced in size by the reading software. That way they can support proper sized images for devcices such as the Kindle, gen3, and iLiad. I know you can make your own books using jpeg images and have them be a decent size. But that does not help if you purchase a book what has images and the images are useless.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:46 AM   #13
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Good choice. The good news is that I don't think you could have made a bad choice between the two. Enjoy.
I haven't made up my mind; I'm just leaning towards the Sony at the moment, but the package hasn't arrived yet -- and it seems it won't til late next week. My choice won't be cemented til I tear the thing open.

The Sony's ergonomics seem much more book-like to me; it just looks like an easier device to "forget" (and focus on the reading). The Cybook's awkward button placement seems like a constant reminder that you're reading on a "device". However, like vivaldirule's sig says, "content, content, content!"

I'm also conscious of the fact that I'm voting with my dollars. This market is young enough (there are so few of us still) that one person's platform choice can help make a difference on the direction the industry takes. On that end, the Cybook seems to have less "baggage" than the Sony. However, I'm not convinced that buying Mobipocket is sending the right message.
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:38 PM   #14
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I live in the US and have never come close to buying a Sony because I originally regarded the need to convert everything into a "closed" format onerous. So I have been using MobiPocket as my target format on multiple devices. However, I now find myself increasingly converting from other formats to MobiPocket (even when a MobiPocket version is available), and if I had a choice for DRMed books I would buy a LIT version over a MOBI because it is a better format (i.e. a better rendition of the original OEB format). Starting from LIT, the two devices are about equal with perhaps a slight advantage to the Sony. If Adobe Digital Editions on the PRS-505 is done right, it may decisively shift the balance in the Sony's favor. However, future software often sounds better than actual software - so I would not base a current purchasing decision of promised future software upgrades.

Overall, this is a choice between two excellent devices. If I had a PRS-505 on order, I would go with the bird in the hand.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:20 PM   #15
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I've never seen an MS Reader books with the same problem of small graphics.
I just finished a book that started out as a LIT file & the map in the front was so small it was completely worthless, so I guess sometimes the LIT files have problems too. If all Mobi files are like that I guess it's pretty useless for them to even include images.


Example...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...CrossBones.jpg

Last edited by AnemicOak; 11-25-2007 at 02:01 PM.
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