With weapon-toting robots and steampunk keyboards, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the most useful hacks are the ones which let you actually use your tech to the fullness of its capability. Case in point is the Sony Reader, which although having scored quite well in reviews nonetheless has patchy official Mac and Linux support. Quentin Stafford-Fraser bought one of the monochrome e-books with his holiday money, only to discover that the workaround solution for getting it up and running with his Macbook – using an SD card to transfer files from laptop to Reader – was pretty poor. Thankfully he knows people who know better!
Kovid Goyal has done some surreptitious reverse-engineering and developed librs500, a Python-based library that means Mac and Linux users have the same USB connectivity options as their PC cousins. Quentin also walks through a system of “printing” any file to the Reader, using the librs500 software.
To my mind, while Sony has done a pretty good job on the Reader, neglecting to give users outside the PC realm the same functionality is doing neither the gadget nor the whole ethos of e-books any favours. One of the most-prized things about traditional paper books is their transferable nature: the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re a PC or a Mac user, right-handed or left-handed, if you only have sight out of one eye or can’t wiggle your toes. An e-book can’t compete with a paper book on battery life, but it can offer new ways of transferring, preserving and consuming information. If I were Sony I’d be offering Goyal a contract and making an official Reader Mac/Linux client.