I have had the Reader for a couple of months now. Most importantly I took it with me on holiday as, like many other buyers, I wanted to be able to travel light but still have a (virtual) mountain of books to get through. The software for managing the reader isn't as straightforward as iTunes is for your iPod, but it's still reasonably intuitive. You can use it to store books that aren't loaded on to your reader and to create your own folders, so for me, the 160 books that you can fit on the Reader's standard memory are ample for a week's break.
The Reader itself is a dream. It is just as easy on the eye as paper and I found that even under the strong Caribbean sun, with half the page under the shadow of my hat, I was still able to read all the text with ease. A huge plus was that the lack of pages meant that I didn't lose my place if a breeze gusted across me. I was also able to lie leaning on my elbows and turn the page without having to shift half my body to 'pull an arm out', which in turn meant that I could have my cocktail on the lounger in front of me, straw fixed in my mouth, just gently pressing a button at the end of each page. Seriously, this was bliss. Although the drinks did run down a bit quickly.
There are pros and cons to the physical differences between the Reader and a paper book. Someone commented on the inability to flick back to another page or just browse through the pages which is fair comment. You can bookmark pages, but its not as quick as it can be to flick to a marked page in a book. On the other hand, I didn't find that the pages turned too slowly and I am a fast reader. I think I just got into a rhythm of turning the page as I read the last lines. Also, you don't get that annoying situation where you are trying to turn the page of a paper book and you just can't separate out one page. Especially if you are trying to do it with one hand. Sometimes I've dropped the whole book and lost my place completely. This is not an issue with the Reader - just click a button and over you go. The buttons are in 'natural' places (mind you, I say that as a right hander, left handers may beg to differ) and are comfortable to use whether you are holding the book up have it lying in front of you. In short, I absolutely love my Reader and I am happy that it does just what I wanted in giving me a comfortable book-reading experience whilst saving weight and bulk.
Waterstones I am not so impressed with. Their site is unnecessarily awkward to navigate and the books are not grouped in any kind of helpful order - just massively long lists. Also, as a Waterstones card holder I have become increasingly irritated by the fact that they exclude ebooks from their promotional offers. I mailed last week to find out why and their response was: "I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the price difference between ebooks and other formats online.
As this is an exclusive product prices may vary, I would like to inform you that in the future there will be reductions and promotions as the item
becomes more popular."
Personally, I'd have hoped that someone who worked for a publisher would have a sufficient grasp of grammar to construct their sentences coherently, but I'm more concerned that the use of the word "exclusive" is their way of saying "We have a deal with Sony. We can charge what we like". Fortunately, there are a number of other sites, although you do have to watch the format. I have also bought books directly from publishers. New books coming out are reasonably easy to obtain, as are classics. The problem is with the back-catalogues of current authors, which you would want if you come across an author you like who has been writing for years. I'd also like to be able to load travel guides and I would love to find a proper full length French-English dictionary. Maybe they are out there somwewhere! I think that if Sony want to the Reader to succeed they will have to persuade Waterstones to charge lower prices. Rightly or wrongly, people will see the digital medium as cheap to produce comapred to hard back or paperback and will see the high prices as profiteering. Ideally, you would hope to find eBooks cheaper so that someone buying a reasonable number of eBooks will feel that they have saved back the money it cost to buy the Reader in the first place.
Bottom line is, I like the Reader enough to buy a second one for my husband and I will use other websites as much as I can 'til Waterstones buck their ideas up.