Manga and Comics on Sony Reader

manga on Sony eBook reader

The last couple days I’ve discovered how to put comics and manga on my ebook reader.

There are not a lot of sources for legal comics and manga (the Sony eBook store has a handful of titles, mostly just a few that came out at the launch of the store and hasn’t been updated since). However, there are lots of sources for technically illegal (scans of books) and quasi-legal (fan english translations of scanned japanese books, out-of-print comics whose publishers are no longer in business) sources of comics and manga.

To be honest, I’d be willing to (and have) purchase legal copies, but most publishers are unwilling to provide comics in digital form, or do so in a restrictive form, like limiting viewing to special software on a computer only. So they simply aren’t interested in providing digital content.

Thankfully, there are lots of comics fans out there scanning and posting. A few searches on Google should yield you a wealth of golden-age comics and manga titles.

To put manga and comics on the Sony PRS-505:

1. Download .zip of a manga book (or create a zip of sequentially named .jpgs)
2. rename the .zip to .cbz
3. Drag the .cbz file into Calibre (free, cross-platform app:
4. Click "Convert" in Calibre to convert it to an .lrf file. Leave all the Calibre settings at default except check "Keep Aspect Ratio" otherwise it will be stretched to fill the screen.
4. Copy the .lrf file onto your reader or onto an SD card or memory stick and put that in your reader.
5. enjoy!

In some cases MacOS creates metadata files that may trip up Calibre. To remove metadata files, copy the files in the command line like this:

cp -X /path/to/original/folder/* /path/to/cleanup/folder

The -X switch will prevent extended attributes from being copied.

More detailed info:
Metadata on OSX is stored in hidden files that start with ._ so if you download an image from a webbrowser called "page_01.jpg", an invisible file called "._page_01.jpg" will also be created, which may contain info like the fact the image was downloaded from the internet, and the URL it came from. This is how OSX knows to warn you the first time you try to run an application downloaded from the internet.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Following in Sony’s footsteps, Amazon has just launched their “Kindle” device.

Like the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle uses an electronic paper display.

Here’s a comparison of the two:

  Sony Reader Amazon Kindle
Price $299.99 $399.00
Screen 6″ 8-grayscale 600×800 E-ink 6″ 4-grayscale 600×800 E-ink
Storage 256MB? 256MB
Expansion SD card SD card
Native Formats BBeB Book, TXT, RTF, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, AAC Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible, MP3
Weight 9 oz. 10.3 oz.

6.9″ x 4.8″ x 0.3″ 7.5″ x 5.3″ x 0.7″
Inputs 0-9 keys, page next/back, 4-way d-pad keyboard, page next/back, scroll wheel
Wireless none EVDO (free access)
Text Sizes 3 6

At first glance, the Sony Reader looks better, with a $100 cheaper price, a newer version of the E-ink screen, a sleeker design, and support for more file types natively. However, by adding free EVDO wireless and a keyboard, the Amazon Kindle lets you buy books and download content from the reader itself. Plus Amazon may have the weight to get more publishers on-board with the idea of eBooks than Sony can.

Either way, some competition is a good thing, and will hopefully drive the price down and the quality up. $300 and $400 are still too pricey for the average user.

More PRS-505 Details

From Sony’s site:

What are some of the most important changes between the PRS-500 and the PRS505?

  1. The PRS-505 has a new screen that has a faster refresh than the PRS-500’s screen and is also a bit lighter. The new screen also supports 8 shades of gray vs. 4 on the PRS-500.
  2. The User interface is much improved with:
    • Page turn buttons moved the right side of the Reader
    • The Numerical numbers now match up against the screen so when menus are displayed the appropriate button is to the right of the entry.
    • The Menu key is now by itself and clearly marked
    • The Jog stick is gone replace with four way arrow buttons and a center enter button.
  3. Books have become easier to search as there are now tools that sort the books into alphabetical groupings for Titles or Authors.
  4. The PRS-500 had a single storage media slot that could handle both SD or Memory Sticks. These cards could support either 2GB (SD) or 4GB (MS) for a maximum external storage of up to 4GB. The PRS-505 has two slots in parallel that allow for SD and Memory Stick Duo cards. These cards can support up to 2GB (SD) and 8GB (Memory Stick Duo). Because there are two separate slots the total amount of external storage the PRS-505 can support is up to 10GB.
  5. The USB functionality is much improved
    • The PRS-505 supports the USB 2.0 standards which allow for faster transfer of data.
    • The PRS-505 can be charged when the battery is empty from the USB port of almost any PC even if there is no software loaded on it. The PRS-500 needed to be plugged into a PC running pre-installed software before it can charge and even then it could not charge if the internal Reader’s battery was dead.
  6. The Connect Reader software is being replaced with “eBook Library v 2.0” which does look and work much like the older software. The only noticeable difference is that with a PRS-505 the new software can use a new Auto-sync feature. Please note that the PRS-505 cannot work with the older Connect Reader software.

Sony Reader v2 is out

Sony announced an updated version of their eBook Reader (PRS-505)!

Differences from the old one (PRS-500):

  • 8-shade greyscale instead of 4
  • Improved page turn speed
  • Twice as much internal storage (now 128MB)
  • Memory is accessible directly as a mass storage device over USB
  • Improved button layout
  • Now comes in silver or dark blue instead of just dark blue
  • Improved screen contrast
  • Automatic Sync option
  • Lower price (now $300, was $350)

Will I get one? Well, you know me, so probably. I really like the v1 one, and better refresh speed, contrast, and more shades of greyscale would all be good features to have.