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Old 04-09-2010, 07:34 AM   #1
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Buying books from Sony if you don't own one of their readers

I hope this is an okay place to post this -- the question is store-related rather than specific to a device or format.

There is one of the HarperCollins books that has been pulled from most retailers that I very much want to buy now to read on flights next week. Unfortunately the only two places I can currently find it are Sony and Amazon, with the Sony version more reasonably priced. I'm also interested in some of the current Sony freebies.

However browsing the store it looks as if the only way to buy books from them is to download their proprietary software and there doesn't seem to be any information about what format you get, how it's delivered or how usable it is if you don't have a Sony reader. (I need to be able to get it onto my bebook mini -- just reading on the computer isn't practical for me.) I'm also somewhat cynical about how user-friendly bundled programs tend to be, after having been burned badly some years ago by manufacturers own software that came with MP3 players and I know I've seen complaints about the Sony software before. So I'm coming to mobileread with the following questions on the grounds that people here always know a lot and are very helpful.

1. Do I have to install their own software to buy from the Sony store?
2. Are 100% of their books always epub or might I accidentally buy something in a different format? Is there any way to tell?
3. Are the books tied in any way to the Sony readers, or should I be able to read it on the bebook mini?
4. Is the DRM delivered through ADE or some other way? Will I be able to open and read the book in ADE on my computer and use ADE to transfer it to my device?
5. Can the books be downloaded through ADE in the normal way for DRMed epubs or does it work differently?
6. Is there any reason at all that I would have to use the Sony software for anything other than the process of buying books?
7. How bad is the software? Is it just not very user friendly? Might it fail to complete purchases/downloads? Is it going to actually mess up anything else on my computer, try to scan all my ebooks into it, disable ADE or calibre, reset itself as my default reader or not allow me to stop it running on start-up? (Yes -- I'm cynical).
8. How do geographical restrictions work at Sony? The book I want may be unrestricted, but I can't work out how to check. I couldn't see anything about any restrictions at all when I browsed their website, but that sounds too good to be true.
9. What payment methods etc does the store accept? I have a preference for PayPal for online transactions, but assume that if they don't take that then their credit card server would be secure. Do they accept international cards? (Again I couldn't find out a way to check without installing the software).

Thanks for the help! I have mainly bought from Fictionwise and Books on Board before, so venturing into the realms of websites that seemed to be designed to promote a specific device that I don't own is a bit scary.
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Old 04-09-2010, 08:16 AM   #2
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I used to have a Sony, do not any longer and still use their store to buy books and get free ones.

1) You do have to install their software
2) As far as I know, 100% epub
3) Not tied to the Sony reader but you do need to authorize your device to your account unless you plan to dr-DRM them
4) You should be able to read them in ADE
5) Not sure why you would want to transfer on ADE if you have the Sony software already running to buy the book...
6) No
7) A little pokey but nothing terrible. You have to log in/confirm through several screens to check out, it is not one-click
8) Not sure. It knows I am in Canada because of my credit card
9) Credit card
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Old 04-09-2010, 08:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
1. Do I have to install their own software to buy from the Sony store?
Yes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
2. Are 100% of their books always epub or might I accidentally buy something in a different format? Is there any way to tell?
I'm not sure, I think all the new books are ePub, I don't know the older ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
3. Are the books tied in any way to the Sony readers, or should I be able to read it on the bebook mini?
No, they're not tied to the Sony reader, you can read them at any eReader authorized by ADE.

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Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
4. Is the DRM delivered through ADE or some other way? Will I be able to open and read the book in ADE on my computer and use ADE to transfer it to my device?
Through ADE, indeed, Sony software checks the id against ADE (email account) and if they aren't the same, it warns you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
5. Can the books be downloaded through ADE in the normal way for DRMed epubs or does it work differently?
You have to download them through Sony Software, but you can import them in ADE.

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Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
6. Is there any reason at all that I would have to use the Sony software for anything other than the process of buying books?
If you don't have a Sony Reader, I don't think so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
8. How do geographical restrictions work at Sony? The book I want may be unrestricted, but I can't work out how to check. I couldn't see anything about any restrictions at all when I browsed their website, but that sounds too good to be true.
First of all, for installing Sony Reader you have to live in USA, UK or Canada and your c/c must have the same country for billing address. There are some restrictions but they only show in the book (e.g.: books only for Canada or UK)

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Originally Posted by Storm27 View Post
9. What payment methods etc does the store accept? I have a preference for PayPal for online transactions, but assume that if they don't take that then their credit card server would be secure. Do they accept international cards? (Again I couldn't find out a way to check without installing the software).
Only credit card. And credit card theoretically based on the same countries.

I hope it's useful for you.
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:58 AM   #4
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Thank you both very much -- that's really useful.

Picking up on this -

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Originally Posted by Terisa de morgan View Post
Yes

Through ADE, indeed, Sony software checks the id against ADE (email account) and if they aren't the same, it warns you.
Presumably that means that the Sony software isn't standalone and you have to have ADE running on the same machine?

(I don't want to get into a situation where I've accidentally downloaded an epub file that ADE has authorised to a new or stand alone account, the way that happens if you download through ADE on a computer that you haven't attached to your ADE account.)
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:04 AM   #5
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Sony has ADE incorporated into their software. It believe it will check your id and password against ADE's servers.
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:43 AM   #6
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(I don't want to get into a situation where I've accidentally downloaded an epub file that ADE has authorised to a new or stand alone account, the way that happens if you download through ADE on a computer that you haven't attached to your ADE account.)
The danger is that Sony will create a new AdobeID for you. I have seen reports of this happening to new users of a Sony Reader, but only if they did not already have Desktop Adobe Digital Editions on the same PC with an authorized AdobeID. What worked for me is to authorize Desktop ADE (I had done this long before I used Sony eBL), and then download and use Sony eBook Library. It then automatically picks up your existing AdobeID. You can confirm this by reading an existing DRMed ePub/PDF using eBL (if you have one downloaded by ADE from another ebook site).

The Sony ebook store is now one of my favorites. All its ebooks are in Adobe ePub and they have some ebooks not otherwise available in ePub. They also often have lower prices, although Agency Pricing may reduce this advantage. It is a pain to shop via eBL, but I like that the ebook downloads are automatic and very fast. Note that most of Sony's free and low priced ebooks (not the Google ones, obviously) are protected by DRM, so buy one of these first to check that all is well before spending a lot of money at the store.

Last edited by wallcraft; 04-09-2010 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:02 PM   #7
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What worked for me is to authorize Desktop ADE (I had done this long before I used Sony eBL), and then download and use Sony eBook Library. It then automatically picks up your existing AdobeID. You can confirm this by reading an existing DRMed ePub/PDF using eBL.
Thanks! (Should have occured to me that I could check the set up that way round too.)

I do already have ADE authorised on my pc and my bebook mini set to that ADE account so I was -- as you suggested -- concerned that Sony ebL woud create a new account and the first I'd know about it would bewhen I couldn't read my new book on my existing devices.
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:19 PM   #8
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Not much luck so far

Well I installed the software and while I can still browse the Sony bookstore webpages, clicking on any book gets me an error page saying -
Error
SSL Secure
An error has occurred
(I'm not talking trying to buy -- I can't even see the book details though I do get a list of search results. I have checked using another computer and the store isn't down)

If I open the ebL software and click on "store" I get links to Waterstones, WHSmith or Mills and Boon, but not the Sony store.

There is an option to register for free ebooks, but when I did that I got to sony.co.uk with a lot of product pages for electronics but none for ebooks.

Any ideas as to what I'm doing wrong? I thought UK people had definitely managed to buy from Sony, but maybe I'm mistaken.

The good news is that yes I can read previously purchased epubs so presumably the DRM won't be a problem if I can get the store working.

ETA: If I restart my pc I can browse the webpage so long as I'm not running the ebL software, but if I try to buy or download books I get the message "Our Reader Store software is required to purchase and download eBooks. Download it here.".

Last edited by Storm27; 04-09-2010 at 06:33 PM. Reason: to add in some more information
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:47 AM   #9
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The actual Sony store is only available if you choose USA or Canada as your location when you run the eBL software.

To buy books and gift cards, you need a valid US or Canadian CC.
You can buy books using a gift card without needing a valid US/CAN credit card - if you can find someone willing to buy them for you...

To download publisher provided freebies, you (now) need to provide a valid US or canadian address, although this ISN'T checked against a credit card for verification, so international folk can (so far) still "buy" the freebies if you can provide an address (so long as the State and Zip code match...)

Last edited by sherman; 04-12-2010 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:48 PM   #10
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Thanks! Nice at least to know I'm not missing something obvious. I'll be uninstalling now and giving up.

(Would have been nice of Sony to make it clear in the pages where they have lots of links saying "dowload this software to buy this book" that that only applies if you're in the US or Canada rather than letting people select a UK option).
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