e-book Reader

Dear Lazyweb,

Does an e-book reader with the following properties exist?

  • Available in the UK
  • Has a book store
  • Supplies DRM-free files
  • Reasonably priced (<£150)

In fact, if anyone knows of any DRM-free e-book readers I’d be interested. There’s a claim that the Sony Reader is one such, but recent reviews on Amazon all mention its DRM…

11 thoughts on “e-book Reader

  1. Sony reader can read DRM-free ebooks, but the ones in the store are all DRMed. A DRM-free ebook store doesn’t exist.

  2. I’m not sure about the more modern Sony Reader units, but I’ve got a PRS-505 and I can confirm that it’ll read DRM-free ePub, LRF, PDF, and TXT files (and Calibre will convert the rest for you) and all you need to do is drop them on an SD card or Memory Stick and plug it in.

  3. I like the Kindle. Like most (any?) other reader, it reads DRM-free books (although you still need to take e-pub through calibre for conversion).

    It doesn’t do Adobe DRM but instead supports the Amazon DRM. If it makes any difference to you, publishers on the Kindle store can choose to opt out of DRM.

  4. Project Gutenberg has free (and DRM-free) books in ePUB format. Borders and Barnes & Noble have free ebooks in ePUB format their on-line stores. Most of the free eBooks are DRM free.

    Amazon’s Kindle may well be the only current mainstream eBook reader that does not support the ePUB format. Sony, Nook, iPad and Kobo do, as do most ebook readers for iPhone and Android.

    DRM gets applied on a file by file basis.

    …and there is an ePUB reader add-on for Firefox.

  5. I’ve been looking recently and was close to buying a device to flash with OpenInkpot. However for my use case, which is reading in bed with the light out rather than say on a beach, in sunlight, far from a power source, I think the wave of cheap, resistive screen Android tablets are a valid alternative.

  6. SWMBO has a Sony PRS-500 and it can display DRM-free books (one of her first sites to visit was Project Gutenberg).

    It is purely for reading books, though – no music player, web browser or what have you. It’s very good at what it does, though.

    Books available from WHSmiths, Waterstones, etc, though you’re seriously out of luck if you want titles that are legal AND DRM-free AND current.

    Oh, and loading DRMed books onto it may be harder if you aren’t using Windows or Mac, but still possible AFAICT.

  7. All of the e-Book readers can display DRM-free content, and there is plenty of software available (Calibre is good and open source) which can convert between formats if your particular eReader is only partial to particular formats — almost all do support ePub though.

    However, DRM-free content is only available for out of copyright classics, or from particular specialised publishers. E.g. some Sci-Fi such as Baen, and technical publishers such as O’Reilly (and technical eBooks don’t work so well on the small pages of a 6″ eReader; they’re formatted for larger pages and code listings look bad when rewrapped by a reader).

    The mainstream publishers are not prepared to release eBooks without DRM and there is no online bookstore which will give you DRM free access to the majority of books you’d find in a paper bookstore. It’s a real pain and all indications are that the publishers are even less open to persuasion than the record companies were with DRM’d mp3s.

  8. Dave: the Android tablets all seem a lot heavier than the e-book readers, though. The e-book readers are around 250g, whereas the tablets are nearer 1kg…

  9. > The e-book readers are around 250g, whereas the tablets are nearer 1kg…

    And this is an important criterion?

    I bet the average book on my shelves weighs more than a kg, and the only time I ever thought of them as heavy was when we were moving and I carried around stacks of boxes full of them.

    My main problems with ebook readers are, first off, the books I want usually aren’t available in ebook format (*any* ebook format; the selection is even worse than the selection for audio books, which is worse than the selection for large print, which is frankly pathetic), and second, I am less than convinced that the format issues are really settled yet and that materials I buy today would necessarily still be usable in ten or fifteen years.