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! 🙂

5 thoughts on “The Cybook in Action

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I look forward to hearing more about this new Cybook. I’m surprised that it doesn’t let you make folders. My older version lets me categorize my ebooks without any trouble. Go figure. 🙂


  2. Delle Jacobs

    Very interesting, Sandy! I’ve heard about Cybook but never seen one. I’ve been reading on my laptop because my very damaged eyes just don’t do well at normal reading distance. I don’t know if this would work or just become more of the same problem since it would likely be held much like a book. But using a larger font appeals to me.


  3. kairin

    hi hi,

    i was wondering if you could do a little review of using the cybook with pdf files?

    i have a series of 7 books which i can send to you via email (of a rather well known magical series) that are in pdf format. which i’m hoping you would do a nice little preview with snapshots etc of how the cybook renders the pdfs.

    i am from singapore and would like to invest in the cybook, but the books that i own are in pdfs…

    i’d really appreaciate it, if u could give me a holler on my webbie at

  4. Sandra Schwab

    Delle, you hold it exactly like a book. In addition, I’ve found that in dim light (= in the early afternoon in winter) the contrast between the grey background and the black text makes reading not very comfortable. As a result, I need to switch on the light in my library much sooner than I probably would need when reading a print book.

    Kairin, the problem with pdf-files on the Cybook is the size of the screen. In order to get good results for comfortable reading you need a relatively large font size.

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