I picked up the new 7″ touchscreen Sony Reader Daily Edition (i.e. PRS-950) on the weekend. So far I’m really enjoying it, and I’ll probably post my thoughts on it after I use it a week or two. I thought other users of the Sony Reader line might appreciate knowing that there is a way to view books purchased from the Barnes and Noble eBook store (NOOKbooks), on the Sony Readers, as this doesn’t initially appear to be possible.
One attraction to the Sony Readers (compared to an Amazon Kindle) is that the Sony Readers support the standard EPUB format for electronic books. This allows you to get free or paid eBooks in EPUB format from a number of places, as long as they do not have any non-supported DRM (Digital Rights Management, i.e. copy protection) on the files, or borrow books in EPUB format from your local library. Unfortunately once you get into eBooks in EPUB format with some DRM on them the story is not as good. There are a number of eBook stores out there that sell books with DRM on them, and not all the eBook readers that support EPUB support all the DRM formats. Books from the Sony eBook store can supposedly be read on the Barnes and Noble Nook reader. However, (currently) books from the Barnes and Noble eBook store (NOOKBooks) can not (in theory) be read on the Sony Readers. This sucks, as the B&N eBook store seems to have a pretty much better selection, and better prices, than the Sony store.
The only workaround I’ve been able to find, which is actually not very hard if you’re at all technical, is to strip the DRM off the eBooks you buy from Barnes and Noble. Sony Reader and immediate viewing needs aside, it is in my opinion a very good idea anyway to remove any DRM (if at all possible) from any eBooks you buy. This protects your investment in these books, allowing you to view them in the future no matter what device or platform you are using at that time, and isolating you from things like a vendor going out of business. (On the other hand, please note that removing DRM does not change anything w/respect to any copyright on the material and your ability to do stuff (share it, copy it) except as provided by a specific license or fair use. i.e., be good).
I was able to pretty easily use the info in Circumventing Barnes & Noble DRM for EPUB to strip the DRM from a book I bought from the B&N NOOKBooks store, and then view the unprotected book on the Sony Reader. Note w/respect to the article, that it shows two mechanisms to get an encryption key that is needed to decrypt the files, either via a script which reads the key from your install of the Nook Reader software for Windows, or via another script that simply generates the key. I found it easier to use the 2nd script, as the first is no longer applicable to the current version of the Nook Reader software, and you’d have to install an older version of the reader software to use it. On top of which, the key generation script works on any platform, not just Windows. Here is another thread that gets into some more detail on the same mechanism.
Let’s hope that future versions of the Sony Reader firmware can handle the specific DRM used on the B&N eBook files, or better yet, that the eBooks you buy from B&N don’t have any DRM on them in the first place. It’s just crazy that you have to jump through hoops like this to view the books on other devices than the Nook. It’s also short-sighted of B&N, as putting in place DRM (and this kind of DRM) effectively limits their market to the Nook (and people who are willing to be locked into the Nook), when in principle they could have a much larger market and make more money by selling books viewable on multiple platforms…