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Did Santa Bring You An E-Reader Too?

Okay, America, I can now reveal a closely guarded secret. Santa's name is John.

No? You disagree? Well, maybe John is just MY SANTA. Come to think about it, he is my Santa. And he rocks it big style. So ladies (especially you redheads out there - you know who you are) hands off. In addition to my hubby's myriad and too numerous to list other amazing qualities (in addition to putting up with me), he's a smart and generous man who got me an e-reader for Christmas.

On Christmas morning, my hubby handed me my gifts in a very specific order. First up, I unwrapped an organizer for all those knives, forks and spoons that have been wadded up and tossed randomly in a drawer for years. Then he handed me a box containing a Hamilton Beach Brewstation Coffeemaker to replace ours that died a few months ago.  (As a rambling aside, I'll note that the Brewstation is a temperamental machine with a shorter lifespan than other models. But I forgive it and will replace each Brewstation with another because nobody in the price range comes close for quality and convenience).

When John handed me the first box, with the drawer organizer, he said it would make me smile. It did, because after over 20 years of marriage, he knows full well my rule that Christmas gifts should cater to wishes and wants rather than needs and necessities. I've ranted often enough to him about my ire for men who present their wives something like a vacuum cleaner as a Christmas gift. I'd hope that wives who receive something like that got their hubbys a set of pots and pans because they'd get the same hurt, lost expression when the gift got open. Men of America, your wife may clean and manage your household but listen to me very closely - your wife is not your house.

So the first gift, the organizer, was a "gag" gift of a sort. My hubby is a smart man with a sharp sense of humor and he could be a comic for a living if he didn't have a family dragging him down and grounding him. The coffeemaker was a better gift, although it still catered to need rather than want -- I consider coffee to be necessary for survival. Both the first two packages were very big. The third package was smaller, much, much smaller. And ladies, don't we know that the best holiday gifts come in the small packages?

I don't think my hubby's ever gotten that kind of shocked, throwing myself at him after I remembered to breathe again kind of reaction. I don't think he's even gotten it for jewelry, the gaudy, tasteless kind that I so adore. But he got it this year when I unwrapped the Sony PRS-505 - Sony's Pocket Reader.

Since Christmas morning, I've spent most of my time using, playing with and adoring my Reader. I've spent very little of it writing, although in that regard my muse did switch me back to the historical I have in the works rather than my new love/law novel. But, like I said, muse has been pretty preoccupied with figuring out the lovely little Sony.

For me, the Sony Pocket Reader was the best first choice. I'm not dissing the others here. I'm sure ladies loved their Nooks and Kindles too. But I really shouldn't have access to a wireless buy button, especially right now. Impulse control isn't a big part of my constitution. My little Sony is small and will fit right in my purse, so I can carry it everywhere. It connects right to my laptop via a USB port, and I have to connect it to transfer books onto the Reader or to make a book purchase.

Set up on Christmas was a bit of a bear because the device shipped with a CD that had an older version of the operating system on it. I was instructed to log onto the Sony Store to activate the one button buy feature that Sony has too, for convenience and after you've thought about it enough to connect the device and made the decision to log on and buy. But at the store activation you're prompted to log onto a certain website to update the software. And that's where my laptop got hung up in the great flood of folks all logging onto the same site.

To the rescue, rode my programmer hubby. He doesn't like "updates" and prefers full versions, so over my shrieks of horror he wiped out the install I'd done from the CD and located another Sony website, logged on, and downloaded the full version of the new software. And it works like a charm.

What I like about Sony is that it has abandoned its earlier proprietary format. My device will take Adobe docs and Word docs (by changing them to RTF format), but it works best with Epub. Even with the software updates, Adobe docs appear on the device formatted properly only when they are tiny. When the size is increased, it loses the formatting, which is annoying. However, the new e-standard is the Epub format, and that Sony processes beautifully. Everything on my Reader is Epub and I even logged onto Smashwords and downloaded the Epub versions of my books. I finally have a Reader to see my own books!!

The Pocket Reader will do one button buys from the Sony Store when the Reader is connected. I haven't done that yet but I have my eye on a bunch of "bundle" buys, including Linda Howard's full McKenzie series, which I haven't read, a time travel Highland series by Brenda Joyce and a bundle by Julia London - just to name a few. What I have done is search the web persistently in search of free and LEGAL downloads. (Don't get me started on my opinion of e-book piracy!)

For anyone out there who loves Romance and is still looking, I found a couple of sites that got me 27 free romance novels. They are Harlequin's 60th Anniversary give away where you can download 17 free romance books and Mills & Boon's site where you can download 10 free ebooks for that brand's 10th Anniversary. In addition to these, I logged onto Project Gutenberg where you can download thousands of free ebooks. I grabbed the Sherlock Holmes titles and a couple of romances (of course).

To get the books, I selected the Epub option and clicked save. I then saved the books to a folder I'd created on my desktop called My E-books. After I'd downloaded them, I logged onto the Reader library and went to files and selected import and found the handy desktop folder and imported them to my library. Then I dropped and dragged them onto the Reader. So I'm starting out with over 30 free ebooks on my reader.

I adore my Sony Reader. It is not only economical for its lack of catering to impulse buys, it was less expensive to buy than the others and could be picked up right at Wal Mart. Hubby presented me one that came in its own little cover and says Wal Mart was selling the ones with a cover for only $2.00 more than the ones without a cover. I appreciate the variety of formats that the Sony will use and I already have a vast love for the Epub format. But one of the reasons I most love the Sony Pocket Reader is that in size, it feels like holding a paperback book. So it already feels like an old friend.

My Sony Pocket Reader is like a paperback book that changes into a new one at the push of a button. With the memory sticks that the device uses in addition to its onboard memory, I can have an infinite number of books. If (when) I acquire that many, I can organize each library onto a separate memory stick and I can carry them all with me, without renting a U-Haul.

I hope Santa brought everyone an e-reader, whether it was a Kindle or a Nook or a Sony. I know that MY Santa was good to me this year, as always. I love my Sony Pocket Reader, but not nearly as much as I love my husband.

Thank you sweetheart.