UK Release of the Sony Reader PRS-505

by Michael Cook on August 25, 2008

Sony Reader PRS-505

So here we are, just over a week until Waterstones start shipping out those lovely new Sony Reader PRS-505’s to all us UK residents!

This is going to be the first E-Ink reader from one of the big boys to enter the UK market . The Sony Reader has been getting substantial coverage in mainstream media of late, so it will be interesting to see what the take up will be. If forums such as MobileRead are anything to go by then there will be quite a demand.

Don’t know what the Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505) is?

The Sony Reader is an electronic book reader that uses an E-Ink screen to give a paper like reading experience. The Reader can hold around 160 books in its 250MB internal memory, but by using the two memory slots (10GB) you could potentially hold 10,000 books. If you don’t think you could fill this then remember that the archives have over 20,000 English language books to download for free!!

Another advantage for the Reader is its battery life. According to Sony, you can get 7,500 page turns on each charge. I’ve not tested that number, but in real life terms I charge mine [PRS-500] just once every couple of weeks.

I bought my PRS-500 when I was in the U.S. at the end of 2006 and have had almost 2 years of use. I’ve read many PG books and find it gives a great reading experience. The new Reader, with its much brighter and faster screen, should give an even better reading experience..

Sony Reader Books

For its UK release, Sony have partnered with Waterstones, the highstreet book store, who will have an online catalogue of over 25,000 titles when they go live. It is believed that the Waterstones books will be in the .epub book format.

EPUB is a new eBook standard that is being adopted by publishers, professionals and amateurs alike (You can think of EPUB in the same way that MP3 is to music files.)

Sony also have their own book format, BBeB and you can also read PDF, MS Word, Plain TXT and RTF files, as well as view popular image formats such as .jpg.

Update: check out my PRS-505 review here

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ndixon September 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

I’ve had my Sony reader for a week now (purchased from my local Waterstones) and am completely in love with it. I tend to have more than one book on the go at any one time, so this saves me having to select which one to take with my down to the coffee shop. I also find it useful late at night when I can enlarge the text to help computer monitor strained eyes after work.

Nuno Coelho September 19, 2008 at 1:30 am

Sounds like great news for all that would like to see eBook reading become a common practice, but I’m not so sure about the suported formats. We all know that, when it comes to widespreading this or that, it’s all about formats, always (Beta VCRs being the standard textbook case). Being myself a long time eReader, and owning by now a considerable eBook library (plain text baseline, wherever possible, then home-converted to .PDB format, for use with Palm eReader), I fear that a device unable to read those now-standard formats will only increase the gulf between PDA/Smartphone users, and the vast out-there crowd. I mean, as a minimum, I would like to be able to beam the book I’m reading to my non-latest-mobile-technologies-user friend, who just bought one of this gismos. And I would also expect him to be able to beam me back the book he’s reading.

Having said that much, I must admit I do not have the first clue as to what ePub is (in an off-hand approach, I’d probably expect it to be some kind of site that allows you to order beer online ;-), but I find my ignorance just a bit unsettling. All this reading-books-without-paper thing is just getting started, there are too few of us doing it, and it won’t help us if we are divided by random manufacturers standards, on top of everything else. So I say, let the non-PDA-and-the-like have their own dedicated devices, but let us strive to keep them compatible with the upper technologie, thats been around for some time longer.

As an after-note, pray excuse any formal mistakes in the above text (or in this note, for that matter). English is a foreign language to me, and I’m only trying to convey my opinion, the best that I can.

Mike Cook September 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Nuno, I agree that the Sony Reader does have a propriety book format (BBeB) which is not great for moving from device to device. The great thing about an ePub book is that it is basically just plaint text files contained within a .zip file. These plain text files are pretty much just XHTML and XML documents so they are easily convertible to any other format should you need to do so. This is the great benefit of ePub; open standard containing XML based content.

Admittedly any older device will likely never be able to read ePub documents natively, however free conversion software is already starting top appear so I’m sure this won’t be too much of a problem in the future.

Hehe, it does sound like a virtual beer doesn’t it! :)

I am actually in the process of creating a site dedicated to the ePub format. On you can currently find information and resources and in the near future I will also be making ePub versions of Project Gutenberg eBooks available for download.