My line about ebook readers has been "When the cost drops to $100 and I can check out books from the library for it, I'm sold."
So, wandering through a local electronics store after Christmas, I saw the floor model Pocket Reader on sale for $119. Sold! I justified the extra $20 bucks and the costly leather cover as a late Christmas present from me to me. All right, I've been dying to try one of these things since my friend Phoebe bought a Nook and would not let me steal it for a weekend.
Taking the Pocket Reader home, I found hooking it up to my Netbook easy, checking out books from my local libray reasonably simple (after hunting down the fine print instructions on the Adobe website about "authorizing" the Netbook to accept ePubs), and the reading experience similar to my battered paperbacks.
Will the Pocket Reader replace my books? No. Even on the way home from buying it, I hit two of my favorite used bookstores and was delighted to find new out-of-print treasures to wedge into my overflowing bookcases. As I rearranged my printed roommates (there's 2,000 volumes more or less stuffed into my apartment), I couldn't see replacing any of them with electronic bits or bytes.
What the Pocket Reader may do is reduce the number of library books stacked by my bed, to say nothing of library fines. I love the fact that library ebooks essentially return themselves by going "poof" off the Reader after a set number of day. The little "countdown" clock next to the book title does inspire reading: oh, look, I have only five days left, must finish this!
Now that I have a new virtual bookshelf to my purse, one that is much easier to carry around than the six-foot alder bookcases lining the back of my living room, I find myself reading more in the odd corners of life: sitting at a restaurant wating for a friend, skipping the boring magazines at the dentist's office, and sitting at the busstop waiting for my perpetually late morning bus.
Now there's an enormous bookcase of old favorites and new in my purse, suddenly available like the lamp and other furniture popped out of Mary Poppin's carpet bag or Hermione's bag of holding. I've always wanted one of those bags that held an entire room full of furniture that could make you comfortable wherever you roamed. Now, I've almost got that. Because nothing makes a home like the books you love, no matter what form they take.
Evening Update After "Protected Page" Error
Well, no sooner do I write this cheery entry than I encountered the dreaded "protected page" error on the Pocket Reader. Seems that the software that my library (and most libraries) uses does still have some bugs. If you check out a PDF and an EPUB, and attempt to load both on your Sony Pocket Reader, they do not play well in the electronic sandbox. In fact, they cancel each other out and you get to see only "protected page" instead of Meg Cabot's hilarious prose. A problem that you never encounter when storing paperbacks with hardbacks in your real bookcase.
Luckily, Google pops up answers for how to clear your Reader and deal with this. It takes a little patience and a lot of trial-and-error. For example, I learned that I must school Firefox into downloading directly into Adobe Digital Editions and not to do anything else. This after Firefox ate the checked out copy of Dan Brown's Lost Symbol and I ended up returning it early as every attempt to make it readable failed subsquently. I've also learned to stick with ePubs for now.
Still, I've not lost faith. The bookcase in my purse may only want to carry one format of book, but it does allow me to have several with me at the same time. And it's still lighter than your standard hardback and even a few trade paperbacks.