Tag Archives: Cybook

My First Year with the Cybook

Exactly one year ago, while I was stuck in revision hell, my Cybook arrived. It was my very first ebook reader and I was suitably impressed by it (a long description and a review of the Cybook can be found here and here). In fact, I still like it as much as I did back in December 2007. Since then, my reading habits have undergone some dramatic changes:

  • More or less all of the books I buy for “fun reading” are now ebooks.
  • I buy more books than I did before, which has a lot to do with the lower prices (= lower American prices + fantastic $/€ conversion rate) and those special sales promotions at Fictionwise (this weekend was another 40%-rebate weekend), not to speak of the fact that ebooks don’t take up any space on my book shelves (wheee!)
  • I less hesitant to buy a book by a new-to-me author than before.
  • I now think twice about a book when it’s not available in a suitable ebook format. In fact, I’m now less likely to buy a dead-tree novel just for fun-reading.
  • If I’ve enjoyed a book, I will more readily purchase titles from the author’s backlist than before.
  • If I don’t enjoy a book, I no longer feel so bad about buying it in the first place (after all, I can simply delete it and no longer takes up any space in my shelves and my life).

In this past year I bought 203 ebooks and downloaded about two dozens of free ebooks. Many of all these books are still on my TBR list (hey, that’s another thing that’s new: I no longer feel bad about a big TBR pile!) (because there is no pile any longer *g*). When I really, really, really enjoyed a novel, I often bought the paper version, too (this happened with three of Linda Howard’s Mackenzie sstories, with James Patterson’s Sundays at Tiffany’s, with some of Lucy Gordon’s category novels, and with Norbert Davis’s The Mouse in the Mountain). On the other hand, I also bought or downloaded ebook versions of some of my favourite paper books (e.g., the Anne of Green Gables stories, Jane Austen’s novels, Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! and Witches Abroad).

Some of my ebook reading highlights of this past year include:

All in all, it was a great reading year!

And to make things even better: Castle of the Wolf and Bewitched are now also available for the Kindle and the Sony Reader. 🙂

My Cybook’s Stuck

Okay. Not really. It has just run out of power (when I was about to finish Agatha Christie’s THE CLOCKS — duh. I had to finish reading the book on the computer). Connecting the reader to a power source for a few moments finally allowed me to switch it off. It’s now happily charging and the afternoon which I wanted to spent reading is now gaping emptily ahead of me.

Double duh.

I might have to resort to desperate measures: I might have to clean my flat. Oh no!

The Cybook in Action

I’ve been using my brandnew e-reader for several days now and I’m loving it! At the very beginning I still suffered from something like reading-vertigo (due to the fact that I couldn’t feel the book and hence my progress in the story while reading it — rather curious, isn’t it? I would’ve never thought that feeling the book is such an important part of the reading experience!), but by now I’ve become quite used to reading e-books and watching the book progress bar at the bottom of a page.

I love how easy it is to download and store books on the Cybook. By browsing sites like Project Gutenberg or Many Books, I’ve already discovered several new-to-me authors — the most exciting find so far is probably Norbert Davis and his hilarious Doan & Carstairs detective series (Carstairs is a Great Dane) (a really big Great Dane *g*) (I’ll write a blog about this series soon), which starts with The Mouse in the Mountain (1943).

Navigation on the Cybook is easy, though somtimes I would wish for some short-cuts (e.g. back to the Library). When you switch on the reader, it takes about 20-30 seconds to boot and meanwhile entertains you by showing the image from the cardboard box in which it arrived:

… still booting …

And then — voilà — the Library. This is the 20-items-per-page display, which I prefer to the 5-items-per-page (see next picture) or the 10-items-per-page. You get to see the covers of your e-books and the first few words of the title. Structuring your Library is a bit of a problem at the moment, because the Cybook doesn’t yet support folders apart from the basic e-books, images, music, fonts, system. At the moment I’m sorting the Library by file name and add genre and author to the file name before uploading the book in question (e.g. the file of The Mouse in the Mountain is named Mysteries-Davis-Doan&Carstairs1-MouseInTheMountain.prc), thus creating some sort of systematic order.

When you arrive at the Library, the last book you’ve opened is highlighted. Then you only have to press the “okay” button and you’re taken to the last page you’ve read. (Or at least you’re supposed to be taken to the last page you’ve read — sometimes, after several hours of reading, the Cybook is confused about pages. Sometimes, after several hours of reading you also can’t place bookmarks any longer. But this only happens occasionally; it’s not something that greatly disturbs your reading experience.

A big advantage of the Cybook is that you can change fonts and font sizes. I prefer reading with a relatively small size to make the most of the screen, but the larger ones must be a real blessing for readers with bad eyesight.

Most of the navigation on the Cybook is done with the square silver button on the front and the itty-bitty button inside the silver square: right / down takes you one page forward, left / up one page back. When there are hyperlinks on the page, up / down takes you through the links.

The button inside the square acts as “okay” or “Menu” button, depending on where you are, e.g., while reading a book, it makes the context menu pop up. In the context menu you can change fonts, font sizes, the layout of the page (with/without header, book progress bar, justified text, bold text), you can add bookmarks, go back to the beginning of the book, go to a specific page (well, when you’re reading Mobipocket files, which are displayed without page numbers on this reader, you have to make an educated guess), switch to the look-up mode (another interesting feature: if you’ve got a dictionary on your device, it allows you to look up words in that dictionary), or go back to the Library. Some choices in the context menus will make another context menu pop up, which can make navigation a big awkward.

The buttons on the left side are “Music”, “Menu”, “Back” and “Delete File” (the latter is not yet activated). All in all, the buttons have a cheap look and feel, and after only one week of heavy use, the silver paint on the square button on the front begins to come off: on the ridge of the right side (i.e. “Page Forward”) there’s now a small stripe of black, which is only going to become bigger with time. Hmph.

As you can see I’ve made my peace with the black cover: after the stink of the dye (or whatever produced that horrid, chemical smell) has worn off, it is very comfortable to use. The leather is smooth and soft and very nice to touch, and the sling-thingy on the right is far less irritating when reading than I feared. Yay! In addition, the reader is now somewhat protected and I no longer handle it as if it were made of eggshells. (Though I’m still reluctant to carry it with me in my purse. The only time I did take it with me to show it to a friend, I wrapt the whole thing in some long johns — well, it was very cold that day and Petra might have suggested a walk, so the long johns would have come in handy. One needs to be prepared, right?)

As I said at the beginning, I love reading books on the Cybook, even if there are a few things that are not ideal about this reader. But I’m definitely sold on e-books now! 🙂

Introducing the Cybook

So last week I finally got my Cybook Gen 3, the new e-reader from Bookeen. Since this is my first e-reader EVAH!, I was extremely excited and documented each step of the unravelling of the FedEx package:

The FedEx package:

If you open it on one side and peer inside,
that’s what you see:

And here’s the Cybook box itself (pretty cool, eh?):

And inside this box, there’s another white box.

And when you opened it, you’re presented with this view:

The leather cover for the device

(they actually sent me the wrong cover: not chocolate brown, but executive black – grrrr)

And here’s the Cybook itself in its pink protection foam bag:

And here it is! The Cybook!!!

(There’s still the protective foil on the screen, hence the reflection.)

Like the Sony, the Iliad and the Kindle it uses the e-ink technology, which makes reading the screen so comfortable and comparable to reading a print book. The Cybook is slightly smaller than a normal massmarket paperback and the mantle of the unit is made of plastic — a lot of people have commented that this makes the device look cheap. Still, the overall design is rather nice (especiall when compared to the butt-ugly Kindle!!!), even if the main navigation button at the front is perhaps not ideally placed.

The Cybook is very light and very thin. It reads txt, html, pdf, and prc (Mobipocket) files; as well as jpg, gif, png and MP3 files (i.e. you can listen to music while reading). The internal storage memory is 64 MB. However, storage size can be extended with a 2 GB SD card. The device is charged via USB (either by connecting it to the PC or to a USB charger), and the battery, according to the Bookeen website, will last up to 8000 page turns (i.e. screen refreshes).

You can upload books to the Cybook either via USB (the computer treats the Cybook like a storage device) or you can put them on the SD card. The whole uploading process couldn’t be easier, really!

So far I’ve read 1 1/2 books on the Cybook and I have to say it makes for very comfortable reading indeed, I haven’t experienced any sort of eyestrain whatsoever: the screen isn’t really white, but more grayish in colour (like a newspaper) and the resulting contrast between the black letters and gray background is rather nice. Still, as a first-time e-book reader I found it somewhat strange to read without being able to feel how I’m progressing through the book. Funny, isn’t it? I would have never thought that this aspect of reading is so important to me. But I’m sure in time I’ll get used to reading on the Cybook without suffering from a slight vertigo. 🙂

Some negative points:

  • The organization of the library: at the moment library folders are not supported, thus in order to find a book you have to click through the pages of the library (now imagine if you’re using your SD card and have thousands of books show up in the library!)
  • A minor irritation: the Cybook doesn’t always turn the page when you press the relevant button
  • Another minor irritation: you have to press the SD card really far into the card slot to make it lock. (At first I actually thought my device wouldn’t take the card, but after some minor panic attacks, I tried again this morning and it worked like a charm when I used my fingernail to push the card in)
  • A major irritation: Bookeen’s customer service. Or rather, their momentary lack of customer service: they don’t seem to answer e-mails from customers (or at least not on a regular basis), and what’s worse they don’t keep customers informed, e.g. about changes in shipping dates. And even though the Terms of Trade on their website explicitely state that in case one of the products is not avaible and has to be replaced by another, they will send an e-mail to the customer, we did not receive any sort of prior information about the exchange of the brown leather cover to the black one. Indeed, there wasn’t even a note in the Cybook box to explain the switch. Hello? You can’t just send a completely different product to your customers. On Saturday I sent an e-mail to Bookeen to complain about this switch, but who knows when or if it will ever be answered… Duh.

Update: I’ve just got an e-mail from Bookeen about the cover. Good!


My Cybook has just arrived! *doing another happy dance* At the moment it’s charging, so I’ll have to wait until this evening to upload stuff and download the books I bought in the past few days from Fictionwise. The reader looks really cool, is very thin, and extremely light. I can’t wait to try it out!


Bookeen’s customer support is beyond the pale: when I ordered the Cybook, my order page on the Bookeen website showed 5 December as shipping date. It finally shipped yesterday, after the original shipping date had vanished from the website without any sort of explanation.

In addition, I received a black cover for the reader, whereas the cover I ordered was chocolate brown (it’s also a different model, so I assume they’ve run out of their own covers and got additional stock from M-Edge). Again, no explanation.

I find this unacceptable.


I’ve just got an e-mail from FedEx that my Cybook is on the way to me. It’s scheduled to arrive tomorrow before midday. *doing a happy dance*

Derrible Deeds of the Day

Dragged my students through almost 500 years of British history (from Norman invasion to Wars of the Roses, well we didn’t really manage to get to the Wars of the Roses …) in just 90 minutes. I’m afraid we suffered a few losses along the way.

Put the finishing touches to the dedication and author’s note of BEWITCHED.

Played with the Mobipocket Generator (available for free on the Mobipocket website) and managed to convert a txt file into a Mobi e-book with cover and table of contents! Now I just have to hope that the cover will show up on the Cybook, too! (I actually spent the larger part of Sunday evening downloading books from Project Gutenberg. For my new collection of Thackeray’s works, I created a cover of my own, using one of the lovely notebooks of Paper Blanks:

Apart from Thackeray’s books, I also started to download P.G. Wodehouse’s novels and searched online bookshops for old covers. It gave me a special thrill to choose those cover pics — I swear it was almost as good as catching sight of the actual books in an UBS!

Have I already mentioned that I can’t wait to get my Cybook? 🙂