Tuesday, January 5, 2010

E-Reader Blues

So one of the best and most highly-anticipated gifts I received this Christmas was a Sony Touch e-reader. It was a semi-surprise; I didn't know for sure that my husband would get it for me, but we had been out together several times to look at them at the local SonyStyle store and I thought, you know, maybe. Let's just say I was very excited to open that little box on Christmas morning and get started with my new toy. (I know, I know- like I don't have enough books to read.)

I hooked it up to my Macintosh iBook laptop and got started- installed the software and even transferred a few free ebook files I had lying around- even a business document or two. Great. I try out the reader itself- it's easy to use, intuitive, fine to look at and comfortable to read. Oh, and it plays music if I want. And I can put a few photos on it, too. Great. So far, loving it.

My husband, being the considerate soul that he is, gave me a $25 gift certificate to the Sony store to get started. I registered and downloaded my first book- William Boyd's Any Human Heart, a book I'd heard about on the Books on the Nightstand podcast a few weeks ago.

And it was here that my troubles began.

All of a sudden, the Sony Library software would not recognize the reader. I tried switching USB ports; I tried waiting; I made sure the device wasn't locked; I made sure the device was actually on when I tried to hook it up; I searched for support information from Sony, tried everything it suggested and came up with nothing. I went onto my favorite search engine and tried several different searches on my problem. I learned that the problem is commonplace in Macs and that despite it being commonplace there is no solution. Even the solution someone said on several chat rooms was a solution, wasn't a solution. I went online to Sony's live chat and asked a person for help; the support person gave me a link to the support page I'd looked at before but I was unable to click on it or even copy and paste it due to something about the nature of the chat interface. When I asked her to email me the link, she emailled the entire transcript and then logged off before I could tell her that I'd done everything listed and nothing worked.

Then I did what anybody in my position- frustrated at 11 p.m. with a piece of electronics that now looked to be a very expensive coaster- would do- I complained on Twitter. Almost right away someone who told me he "works with Sony products" chimed in and offered to help. I was farmed off to another random Twitter person who said he worked with Sony products. This person didn't solve my problem either but asked me a question that helped me figure something out- did my computer mount the device on my desktop?

I had never even looked at my desktop but it turned out the answer was yes. Knowing this, I was able to figure out a work-around whereby I could bypass the Library software entirely when transferring free ebooks. My work-around doesn't work when transferring books bought from the Sony store though- it seems there's no avoiding the Library software for that. So, tired and frustrated and feeling like there was nothing else for me to do, I gave up, went to the ebookstore and deauthorized my computer, then reinstalled the Library software on my husband's PC, downloaded my book again and succeeded in transferring it to my reader, where I could finally read it. And now I'm enjoying my ereader just fine, thank you very much.

What did I learn? That Sony shouldn't say that its software works on Macs if it doesn't, or if just works sometimes and they won't help you if it fails. That if we weren't a two-platform house I would have returned my Reader by now. That when someone tells you that ebooks allow for instant gratification for your bookish impulses, that's only true if you're lucky and often that claim is nothing short of a canard. Have you ever gone through all that to read an old fashioned paper book? I didn't think so.

25 comments:

Blodeuedd said...

Yikes, that sucks. No they should not say it works if many have the exact same problem, tsk. But I am glad that you at least got it to work one way.

Meghan said...

That sounds so frustrating. =/ I think one of the biggest problems with all this talk of digital publishing is simply that it doesn't always work. You never have to worry about connecting a paper book to your computer.

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

JoAnn said...

Oh, how frustrating!!
I still haven't taken the plunge, but probably will before our next trip. I have a mac and have heard rumors about apple coming out with an e-reader this spring...will be interested to see what they've come up with.

Beth F said...

Argh!!!! How frustrating. They should have clearly stated that there may be problems with Macs.

jlshall said...

What a frustrating story! Glad you finally got the problem solved. But it just makes me more certain that e-readers probably aren't in my near future. (Yes, I am a dinosaur!)

Pam said...

And THIS is what I hate about technology. (Full disclosure: I own a Kindle, which I only use for vacations. No more dragging a suitcase full of books in my suitcase. But I never use it in my everyday life. It's too cold and lifeless).

bermudaonion said...

I have a Kindle and a Sony Pocket eReader and I have to say overall, the Kindle is much easier to use. I have a PC, but find that it is never easy to get books on the eReader. Sorry you're having to struggle with this. Will Sony take it back?

MarceJ said...

You have patience and lucky for them you could use a different computer in the house.

I have a Kindle, so easy to use.

Nothing will be real books though but a few more years this may not be the case, who knows.

caite said...

the trials of the Evil E-Readers...odd, I have never had that problem with a real book. {{insert evil laugh}}

Seriously, I think there are still a great, great many unanswered issues with e-readers at this point. Too many for me to spent my money on yet.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

We are also a two platform household so that's good to know. I think so many apps assume pc instead of mac, but you're right, they should divulge!

Marie said...

Kathy, I'm going to keep it. I found ways to make it work- it's just more trouble than I'd hoped it would be. I don't do business with Amazon so a Kindle is off the table for me.

Florinda said...

We used to be a two-platform household; as your experience points out, there are times when it has its advantages. However, my husband the Apple junkie would say the problem is with technology that assumes everything runs on Windows & IE. It sounds like in this case, he wouldn't be entirely wrong about that. Glad you found a work-around, but in a perfect world, you wouldn't have needed to.

nomadreader said...

The independent bookstore supporter in me really wishes Sony would make better e-readers. I've heard horror stories from far too many people to consider one. I got a Kindle for Christmas, and I love it. It's a better product, and until Sony (or someone besides a corporate bookstore) makes a comparable product, I'm now an Amazon girl (words I never thought I'd say). Good luck!

sanctimommy said...

That is a bummer! The Sony was the one I wanted, too. And I use a Mac. Oh well... eventually there will have to be a good solution!

Rebecca Reid said...

how frustrating! I am not yet tempted for an ereader (ok, yes I'm tempted but not going to get one yet) but that would be so annoying to be so excited and then not have it work.

And yeah, they should find a fix soon. that's awful!!

Zibilee said...

Oh no! It sounds like this was a very frustrating experience for you, and they really shouldn't make claims that they can't follow through on. I haven't had much experience with the Sony e-reader, but most of the computers in my house are Macs, so this does not sound very promising to me. I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad time with all this...here's hoping that nothing like this happens again!

nicchic said...

Use the Calibre software. Its free and compatible with the Sony Touch...I rarely use the Sony Reader Library as it always registers an error with my Touch and then I always have to reinstall the software again to access.

On Calibre you can convert file formats. There is a bit of a learning curve but its a better platform.

Good luck!

Alexia561 said...

So sorry that you had problems with your new ereader! But how wonderful of your husband to surprise you like that!

I'm another dinosaur who prefers real books to ereaders, although I do understand the appeal.

Glad you were able to use your hubby's PC to get your ebooks, but you're right that they shouldn't say it works with Mac if it doesn't.

Have fun with your new toy! :-)

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

So sorry you had to go through all this trouble :( I received a Sony Touch for Christmas too, and had absolutely no problem installing everything on my Mac. But, you are not the first person I hear has had this kind of issues. I think e-books are a great thing, but we are still at the beginnings of this; until many of their issues are resolved, I won't be giving up on my good old paper books!

Amy said...

I still cannot bring myself to use an e-reader. At least with a paper copy, you don't have these problems, right?

-Amy
Life by Candlelight

jewwishes said...

Thanks for this post, Marie. I was contemplating getting one, but I do have an iMac, although I'm writing this on my pc laptop. My iMac is where I would download the books.

Serena said...

Ok, see I wondered about the mac capability...though it said it was compatible. This is going to be marked off the list. We are not a two platform house and I would have returned the Sony reader if this had happened to me.

I think Apple needs to make its own reader! Now that would be something.

Lesley said...

Yeah, as soon as you mentioned the word Mac, I figured that was it. I kind of like the idea of having an e-reader, just for the cool factor of a bookish gadget but not enough to actually shell out the money for one.

Glad you got yours (kinda) working!

Michelle said...

I too got a Sony eReader for Xmas. I've not yet had this problem but anticipate it happening any time now given your explination. At least we can struggle through it all together! Glad you're up and running (sorta).

jewwishes said...

I am sorry you had so much trouble, and can only imagine how frustrating it was.


I never thought I'd be saying this, me with my passion for hard copy book collecting.

I bought the B&N Nook the other day. I figure it will save me a lot of money, even on new releases...you get them for less this way.

Plus, I have downloaded many free books, already directly from B&N, directly into my Nook. It waits there for me to boot it up, and the book is there for me to read or save in my library.

Nook is also compatible with Macs or PCs, and for Macs, one can download an application from the Apple site.

I will still collect my Holocaust hard copies, it's a given, but this will save me so much money on other books.