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Old 05-20-2010, 10:22 AM   #1
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Ereaders and false ecomomies

This lunch time I ventured into Soho (London) to try out a few ereaders in the flesh. I parked my motorbike and nipped off into the nearby stores carrying a little SD card containing a good cross section of the books I'd gathered of the web.

At Waterstones they only had the Sony Touch and Pocket on display and fixed by metal tabs into a frame so you couldn't hold them. The Pocket worked well with the titles already on the machine but I couldn't try it out with any of my collection as it didn't have an SD card slot. The 5" screen only appeared a little smaller to the 6" (I guess 1 inch difference ) but mainly I wasn't so keen on all the buttons. The Touch was displaying a demo program and refused to exit - it took 15 mins and a small pin to make it quit. I was impressed with the Touch - it was intuitive to use, had the touch screen and a dictionary. I didn't notice any glare and the screen seemed only marginally greyer than the pocket version. Sadly it also had a £249 price tag.

At Foyles you could actually hold the ereaders as they were only attached by security wires but sadly there was a gap where the Neo should have been as someone had run off with the device. Luckily they brought another one down for me and it appeared quite impressive - nice screen, design, fast, wifi etc. It read my SD card but just found 100's of data files and none of my books - it might of helped if it showed the folders they were in or allowed me to search for a name or type of file or just showed the file types it could handle. I also got a feeling the firmware still needed a few adjustments. At £280 you could definitely see a jump in functionality over the similarly priced Sony. I also tried the BeBook Mini which appeared similar to the Sony Pocket but with more functionality but less design. Sadly they didn't have the Sony models on display.

I know I want an ereader but I still find it hard to justify the price. I nearly bought the Sony Pocket a few days ago when it appear on Woot for $109 but sadly they wouldn't ship to the UK. I'd also be happy with the Sony Touch at the American price of $199 but I'm not sure what fees I'd incur by bringing it over. I'd be very happy with the Neo as well for $339 but again I have the same problem. I'd also like to have tried the Pocketbook machines but they weren't available in store.

At the end of my lunch break I'd learnt a lot about the various devices but was no wiser as to whether they could read the books in my current collection. I'd also learnt that book stores seem to employ some very attractive and bookish girls - I was distracted a few times in my quest. Back on the motorbike I found I'd earned myself a parking ticket - Oh well the price of knowledge.

Mike
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:41 AM   #2
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I'd also learnt that book stores seem to employ some very attractive and bookish girls - I was distracted a few times in my quest.
That's the major mistake you made. First nerd rule: Always concentrate on the device, never on the girls!

No wonder you didn't buy one ...
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mike_bike_kite View Post
I know I want an ereader but I still find it hard to justify the price.
That is because you are unaware of certain hidden costs to owning paper books, or of certain cost-saving aspects of ebook readers.

• There are thousands of free public domain books available. If you happen to read older content / classics, you'll break even almost immediately.
• Owning books require shelves (which are rarely free) and take up a lot of space.
• With an ebook reader, you no longer have to pay delivery charges.
• You also don't have to go to a store, which some find pleasant, but others view as taking up time.

Of course, economically it still might not work for you. It sounds like you need to pick a number you are willing to pay for an ebook reader, and then wait until you find one that is available to you at that price point.
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:58 PM   #4
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• There are thousands of free public domain books available. If you happen to read older content / classics, you'll break even almost immediately.
It took me only three months for my jetBook Lite to pay for itself. Now I feel like I'm playing with the house's money!
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:04 PM   #5
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It took me only three months for my jetBook Lite to pay for itself. Now I feel like I'm playing with the house's money!
It took almost 6 months for my Sony 505 to pay for itself (it was more expensive than GA's jetBook) but I've now been using the 505 for 2.5 years and look forward to reading on it every day. Sadly, I can't claim that my book expenditures have decreased. I'm buying more books than ever because of my 505, and I'm reading more than ever, too, but even so, my 505 has been very cost effective. I'm spending 10% of what I used to spend on fiction; nearly all my increased spending is on hardcover nonfiction.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:24 PM   #6
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I'd also be happy with the Sony Touch at the American price of $199 but I'm not sure what fees I'd incur by bringing it over.
You would pay import duty and VAT on the cost of the item plus the cost of postage, plus an administration fee to Royal Mail. If you assume about 30% extra to pay, that will be about right. It will also add about an extra month or so to the delivery time if customs gets hold of it. Or you might get lucky and not have to pay anything extra.

If you were going to buy from other countries you would probably get a better deal buying it from China / Hong Kong than America, it would be pointless paying for 2 lots of air freight.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:31 PM   #7
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You would pay import duty and VAT on the cost of the item plus the cost of postage, plus an administration fee to Royal Mail. If you assume about 30% extra to pay, that will be about right. It will also add about an extra month or so to the delivery time if customs gets hold of it. Or you might get lucky and not have to pay anything extra.

If you were going to buy from other countries you would probably get a better deal buying it from China / Hong Kong than America, it would be pointless paying for 2 lots of air freight.
Why would you pay anything to Royal Mail? Borders use a shipper; as far as I'm aware the Royal Mail never get involved.
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Old 05-20-2010, 03:34 PM   #8
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• Owning books require shelves (which are rarely free) and take up a lot of space.
That's the main reason I got an e-reader, despite not being an avid reader.

I was seldom reading anymore as I didn't like having to store books I'd never read again anyway, or have to hassle with donating them etc. which always ended up happening every time I move--which has been pretty frequent.

Much more convenient for me to just buy an e-book, read it, and not have a physical book to deal with. I don't even care about the cost, whether/when I break even etc.
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:10 PM   #9
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The post was more just a quick note on my experiences of trying to get a decent demo of an ereader, about trying to save a little money and then getting a parking ticket. I thought both shops I went to were very helpful but for one reason or another I couldn't see my own ebooks on the SD card.

I'm a geek and read a lot so one of these things fits the bill quite well but I can't do a simple "this is what I'd save" because I doubt if I'd buy that many ebooks though I do buy real books of the ebooks I've been impressed by. I just get a childish joy seeing all the books on the shelves which a listing can't replicate and as a child of the digital age generation I just find it difficult paying for data files (though I do fully understand implications of this).

How much I'm prepared to pay for the hardware is also difficult to say - I guess the cost price of a unit (even a feature rich unit) is somewhere around £40. Then add on the cost of software, marketing etc and a profit of course. I guess if borders can make a profit at selling a PRS-600 at $199 (£140) then ereaders are very over priced here in the UK (£245). But I guess, like anything, something is worth exactly what folks are prepared to pay for it.

I hadn't thought of importing from HK but it appears they don't get them there and each Chinese site I looked at looked so dodgy that I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. I've also tried importing things from the US before but the results were variable, sometimes taxed, sometimes not and a few times the item would just disappeared altogether.

I guess I'll just continue to keep my fingers crossed and hope the prices come down. Luckily I find the developments in the technology (hardware and software) quite interesting so I quite enjoy reading about them.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:42 PM   #10
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Why would you pay anything to Royal Mail? Borders use a shipper; as far as I'm aware the Royal Mail never get involved.
Royal Mail handles your fees on behalf of Customs and Excise, and they charge a fee for doing it.

http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/c...mediaId=400362
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:44 PM   #11
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Royal Mail handles your fees on behalf of Customs and Excise, and they charge a fee for doing it.

http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/c...mediaId=400362
Ah, I see. Thanks for that explanation and link.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:45 PM   #12
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I bought a Hanvon 516 from ebuyer.com last Xmas for £120, I'm quite happy with that. I just had a look and it's gone up to £140 now, but that seems to be still within your budget.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:04 PM   #13
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It read my SD card but just found 100's of data files and none of my books - it might of helped if it showed the folders they were in or allowed me to search for a name or type of file or just showed the file types it could handle.
I don't know what went wrong there but the Neo does show the folders on your SD card and does allow you to search for a file.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:05 PM   #14
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:19 PM   #15
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I bought a Hanvon 516 from ebuyer.com
I'll look into one of those. Do you use open inkpot or the standard firmware?

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I don't know what went wrong there but the Neo does show the folders on your SD card and does allow you to search for a file.
It was my first time with the device and I guess the assistant wouldn't know the ins and outs of the unit. It was almost certainly my fault as the SD card came straight out a DAB radio with recordings of various radio programs - so no doubt that was what all the .dat files were. I've now reformatted the SD card and recopied the ebooks back on - hopefully I will be able to retest each device soon.

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It doesn't sell in the UK so I can't test it with my ebooks. The price is perfect though.
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