E-book reader

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1 Definition

An e-book reader or e-book device is a device specially made to display e-books.

The word "e-book reader" can also be used to talk about a "reader" (collection of articles) ins eletronic format

See also

2 Hardware

2.1 E-books

E-book devices are specially made for reading books, i.e. are supposed to have at least the following features:

  • Ease of use
  • Reading of contents in any condition (even light)
  • An easy mechanism to download texts
  • Support for severl e-book formats
  • Long time without recharging

Mobilereads wiki list five major brands in its E-book Reader Matrix: Sony, Jinke, Netronix, Amazon and IRex. They all use E-Ink technology. Power is only used when the page is turned and it provides a crisp image. Typically, the screen size is 800x600px and 6´´ in size. Most support some grey levels. Most of these systems run under Linux.

Most readers support several formats each. However, there is quite a big battle going one between Amazon and its closed Kindle formats vs. the rest of the world. Only Kindle seems to support Kindle formats (AZW) and Kindle does not seem to support ePub, the most interesting format for most of the world. Also, some devices can convert other formats.

Most readers also support a digital rights management (DRM) format since the supported formats do it: e.g. MobiPocket, ePub,, and again Kindle (Kindle).

Popular models as of April 2010:

  • Amazon Kindle 2
    • File types supported: ePub AZW, TPZ, PRC, MOBI, TXT, MP3, AA, AAX
  • Amazon Kindle DX (spring 2010)
    • File types supported:ePub Kindle (AZW), PDF, TXT, AAX, MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion. (still no ePub).
  • Sony PRS 900 Reader Daily (June 2010), a bigger version of the PRS-600 plus 3G downloads in some countries (like the Kindle)
    • File types supported:ePub PDF, DOC, others
  • Sony PRS 505S
    • File types supported: PDF, TXT, RTF, LRF, LRX, ePUB, MP3, AAC, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • Sony PRS 700BC
    • File Types Supported: PDF, TXT, RTF, LRF, LRX, ePUB, MP3, AAC, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, DOC (Word 2003?).
    • Has a touchscreen and a front light.
  • Sony PRS-600
    • Has a touchscreen and no frontlight.
    • Supported formats: PDF, TXT, RTF, LRF, LRX, ePUB, MP3, AAC, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP (need to verify)
  • Bookeen Cybook Gen3
  • Various Jinke models based on the Hanlin V3
    • Format Support PDF, TXT, RTF, EPUB, LIT, PPT, WOLF, DOC, CHM, FB2, HTML, DJVU, MP3, TIFF, JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, RAR, ZIP, MOBI.

Alternatively there exist LCD-based solutions (see the LCD E-Book Reader Matrix at MobileRead). Some advantages are color and faster page turning. Disadvantages is much shorter battery life.

Finally, some other mobile devices, like iPhones and Palmtops also include ebook reading software. But reading is not as good. There exists also ebook reading software for micro-computers. (see the software section below)

2.2 Other devices

  • Apple iPad
    • File types supported: ePub ,jpg, .tiff, .gif, .html, .key (Keynote), .numbers (Numbers), .pages (Pages), .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint), .txt (text), .rtf (rich text format), .vcf (contact information), .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)
  • All sorts of mobiles phones and PDA's. Recent smart phones like various Androids or iPhones do have e-book applications. E.g. the Samsung galaxy i9000 Android phone includes Aldiko, but as of June 2010 we also recommend installing the FB Reader (available in the market). Not as practical as an e-book reader, but ok if there is nothing else.

2.3 Sony PRS-600 tips

I now got one of these - Daniel K. Schneider 15:40, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

If your device hangs

Yes I experienced this on day one after I manually added files to the device. There are several strategies (all a bit dangerous !). I went for killing XML files on the device

  • Delete the \database\cache\media.xml file (but DO MAKE A save copy of it before) with the Windows File Manager
  • Then disconnect
  • Removed damaged *.epub files from the Sony "eBook Library program" if you can (I suspect that it may not correctly handle certain file names). Damaged means that it will hang on transfer.
  • Reset the device (small hole on the bottom)
  • Then reconnect

Disclaimer: If your device is in even worse state after this, don't complain. I am 'not a e-reader expert nor a Sony technician ....

If the Sony Library client can't transfer a book (sync will hang and do nothing)
  • Remove books form the PC directory that will block (and try again)
  • Use Adobe Digital Editions instead (I finally adopted this solution to buy books and then to transfer these to the Reader - Daniel K. Schneider 20:33, 12 February 2010 (UTC))
If it still doesn't work
  • Remove the client from Windows
  • Also remove all the books in your profile (e.g. \Appdata\Local\Sony Corporation) !! You can move the free epub files some other place if needed.
  • Reinstall the client (this means that prior to that you should have saved your books somewhere else ...)

Disclaimer: I don't know what will happen to books you bought !

Some other tips
  • It's probably a bad idea to manually transfer files to the device. I also heard that one should not use two different programs to manage, e.g. calibre in addition to the official one. Anyhow, IMHO the Sony library is quite a crappy program, it doesn't even tell you why it hangs ...
  • If you download an *.epub version and then an *.lrf version of the same book, the combo doesn't seem to handle it. But then it's hard to retrace stuff I tried ;)

Anyhow, once the books sit on the PRS-600 I like it. As I wrote in some other place, I prefer to read real books, but I certainly will take this thing on vacation and other travel. I addition (except when it bugs as above, it is really easy to use). Screen could be better, but it's ok enough.

3 Software and Format

E-book devices need an OS, most are based on some small Unix.

There exist several formats. Proprietary / standards-based and open / locked. A short overview is provided in the e-book article.

4 In education

Probably such devices don't have big chances to be systematically used. Learners probably will want a device that also can run other software, e.g. a big cellphone, PDA or a small tablet PC.

However, the interesting thing about this device is that companies (or maybe other organization in the future) can integrate seamless and cheap download technology.

E.g. Amazon's Kindly so far only in the US lets customers download over a (fast) mobile phone network. A book costs typicall $10 and the download itself is free. In other words, Amazon could become the equivalent of Apple's iPod (but much easier to use). On the other hand contents are DRM protected, i.e. they run only on one device and one can not sell/pass it to other people.

5 Links