I have a sony PRS-600 eBook reader, and it has two significant problems that have driven me crazy over the last 2 months. I did some online searching for solutions, and found them pretty unsatisfactory, so I’m going to give the workarounds I found by myself, in the hope that other people who stumble on this problem can solve it more quickly than I did.

Unable to Purchase eBooks from Overseas

I bought my eBook reader in the UK and then moved within a month to Japan. When I was first in Japan (early 2009) I could buy eBooks from Borders, Waterstones etc. quite easily. But sometime in the last year the international intellectual property laws changed, and now I can’t buy books from these companies. In fact Waterstones sent me an email telling me this:

Unfortunately whilst you are outside of the UK even with a UK billing address and have a UK registered card we are unable to fulfil your orders.

Waterstone’s is a UK based bookseller and bound to honour the rights agreements of the publishers that supply us. To comply with international publishing rights agreements we have removed the ability for overseas customers to download eBooks from Waterstones.com. We apologise for the inconvenience, and will pass on any comments to the relevant publishers.

That’s right, I can’t buy eBooks from Waterstones even though I have a UK registered credit card, because they check my IP address. Thieving bastards.

My solution: WH Smith online shop still sells to me even though I have a Japan-based billing address for that UK card, and my IP address is Japanese.

The Reader Library Software is Running but the Library is Invisible

This problem is quite prevalent, with many people putting up questions on the internet about it, and is so common that Sony even have it in their Reader Library FAQ. Note how unhelpful their response is. Basically what happens is that your computer thinks the software is running, but you can’t access the library on your computer, so you can’t transfer any new books to your reader.  In Apple this leads to a weird situation where you can bring the Reader library software to the foreground but you can’t access anything, and when you hit “quit” nothing happens. Apparently in Windows it appears in your system tray but you can’t view the software. This is apparently so serious a problem that you need to do some kind of significant helpdesk work with Sony (see their very unhelpful FAQ). Reinstalling the software doesn’t help.

Today I downloaded .acsm files for 4 books but when I double click on them the Reader Library does nothing. It used to be that the reader library would import them instantly. I was looking at 25 pounds of unreadable stuff I’d paid for, and no way to get it onto my reader.

The solution is very simple. When you download the .acsm files, rather than saving them somewhere tell your computer to open them with Adobe Digital Editions. They will then be converted into ePub files in the Digital Editions software. Find the location of these files on your hard drive (for my apple it is Users/Documents/Digital Editions) and simply drag and drop them into the external drive representing your reader (I drop them in the drive No Name/Sony Reader/Books)[1]. Then you can access them in your reader.

You shouldn’t have to do a workaround like this for equipment you paid good cash for, but such is the nature of the Sony beast. Don’t even get me started about the time that the Full Metal Alchemist soundtrack arse-fucked my computer with DRM software.

Conclusion

I really really like my eReader, it’s a brilliant idea, and I like being able to take multiple books with me on trips, but the software that drives it is awesomely cumbersome and the book-purchasing process is nasty. Every time I go near an eBook store I feel like a greasy criminal because the strict DRM contains an implicit assumption that I’m a thief. I think Sony are a pack of evil thieving scumbags and I am confident that sometime soon my ability to buy eBooks is going to be cut off entirely, at which point those bastards will have robbed me of my reader. Stupid stupid shits. But for the short term at least I have a workaround, and when Sony finally cut off my supply I suppose I’ll just go back to old-fashioned book-buying and never again buy one of their electronic gizmos. Bastards.

 

fn1: Oh and Sony, wtf is up with your system? When I plug in my Reader I get 3 – count them, three – separate virtual drives appear, and one is called “No Name.” WTF is that?

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