Help me read on the run...
March 8, 2009 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Recommend an eBook Reader for purchase by an Australian?

Since the release of the Amazon Kindle 2, I've been thinking more and more about getting an eBook Reader device. Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have done an effective job of locking the Kindle into US usage only (aside from needing a US credit card and mailing address to order one, it looks like you need a US credit card to buy content, and as far as I can tell the only way to get content onto them is via the builtin cellular capability, which wouldn't work in Australia), so that rules the Kindle out.

Aside from the Kindle, it appears that the Sony Reader Digital Book also can't be purchased directly in Australia, though I've heard of people ordering them in from OS. I can only assume this means you can still purchase, download and transfer eBook content onto them in Australia, but I haven't been able to confirm this directly.

So, I'm left wondering if there's an eReader device out there that has reasonable functionality in the range of the Kindle and Sony Reader Digital Book (primary function for me is take-with-me library, rather than on-demand internet browsing etc), that can be purchased directly or indirectly from Australia, and which will work in the sense of being able to purchase and download a wide range of of eBooks (fiction, non-fiction, classic literature, programming manuals, etc) in Australia? No problems at all if this means transferring content on the Reader via USB or SD card, etc.

Bonus points if I can save / print / export web page content onto the Reader, so I can use it in conjunction with ReadItLater (currently I use Evernote to capture the text content from ReadItLater pages and then print out double-sided for my train trips to and from work, but this seems wasteful for once-off articles).

So have any Australian MeFites (or MeFites from any other part of the globe, if you have input) successfully purchased an eReader and used it to purchase and download eBooks?

Many thanks in advance for any help!
posted by planetthoughtful to Technology (6 answers total)
This doesn't precisely address the question, but I've read books for almost a decade almost exclusively in ebook format, and until it died recently, did it on an old Thinkpad.

I plan to replace it not with a dedicated ebook reader, but with a small-form convertible laptop, like the Gigabye M912 or one of the Asus tablet convertibles coming out this year. Doing this, I'll get the form factor, but with a bigger, color touchscreen, no DRM or vendor lock-in, my choice of formats using the reader software I want, and I can actually use the device for purposes other than just reading, for a few hundred bucks more.

I've long waited for the ultimate ebook reader, but I don't think it's here yet.

Sorry for the derail if that's not useful.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:57 AM on March 9, 2009

I'm an Aussie who ordered a Sony PRS-505 from an importer on eBay (back when our dollar was doing great). It can be done. I was very happy with the service and I love my ebook reader and take it with me everywhere.

Because the 505 supports pdf files, you can order ebooks from anywhere on the internet that deals with pdf's. No, there is no Amazon support. No, you can't order from the Sony store as a general rule. But you CAN get books from Dymocks online or Those are the biggest ones that I know of, there may be more. There is a free converter (caLibre) which will convert documents other than pdf's into a format the Sony can read. The documents I have converted don't look great, but they are readable.

For the record, Dymocks does offer ebook readers from their website-- the Cybook and the iLiad. Both will supporrt pdf's. However, they are expensive at the moment. The Cybook e-reader is $600, which is more than I paid for my Sony. For that matter, the ebooks are not a great deal cheaper than the real thing. Where they really shine is portability. Seriously, mine comes with me everywhere. I wouldn't be able to fit ten books in my purse any other way.

It's still a fledgling industry in this part of the world but I have every confidence that the situation will get better.
posted by roshy at 2:15 AM on March 9, 2009

I think it depends on what you will be reading. I read a few ebooks a month, mainly fiction pulled from the internet - things like the annual sci-fi award entries, free books from Charles Stross, Neal Gaiman, Cory Doctrow plus classics etc. When I find these works I save them and load them onto an old palm pilot. It has a 256mb SD card and uses a custom format, easy to convert, but most suitable for text. I have dozens of interesting books to read in a spare moment, and throw it in my bag so I have alternatives to read if the latest Dan Brown is as bad as the others or I finish whatever else I am reading.
This is a supplement to my main paper based reading, but is pretty useful. There are also many sources for pirated ebooks if you are into that. When I used to do a bit of programming I would also have a few technical ebooks on hand for reference (although I usually viewed them on my laptop screen, now I think about it).
Most of my reading is real books from the library or 2nd hand bookstores - of which there really isn't an e-book alternative, unless you have lots of money to buy new books or pirate.
So if you are seeking to replace Amazon as your source of paper books, then a Kindle could be made to work (e.g. I believe you can buy US issued Amazon gift certs from ebay).
If you are seeking to replace your local Angus and Robertson, or other real world bookshop, then I think you need to identify where you will source the titles you want to read, and use that to guide you as to which device is more suitable.
If you were to go cheap like me ;-) I would suggest you look into the (discontinued) Sony branded palm devices, which I understand make very nice readers.
posted by bystander at 3:24 AM on March 9, 2009

Not exactly an answer, but offered as a point of comparison: I haven't been keen on the eReaders available in Australia, so have gone with (previously) e-reader software on a Palm Tungsten E, and (now) the Stanza app on the iPhone.

These options don't have as wide a range of titles that the Kindle does. They do however, let me fit dozens of books in my handbag and read them on public transport. If you had an iPhone, or a net-enabled Palm, you'd also probably be able to use ReadItLater (I use Instapaper, which seems to be similar, and haven't had any problems).

Oh, just remembered: there's a new Palm phone coming out this year, a competitor to the iPhone. It may also have some good e-reader software, and will probably have a better screen than the old ones.
posted by harriet vane at 3:56 AM on March 9, 2009

Stanza with an iPod Touch?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:19 AM on March 9, 2009

It looks like it's possible to buy the Hanlin eReader v.3 (apparently BeBook is a clone of this product) in Australia. I do not own one, but I have oohed and ahhed aplenty over my friend's. She pirates most of her reading material, but I don't know about saving web content to the reader.
posted by mustard seeds at 5:18 AM on March 9, 2009

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