Sony forced to rethink Librié concept

In April 2004, I reported about Sony’s Librié, an e-book reader only capable of displaying e-books in Sony’s proprietary BBeB file format— BBeB e-books are sold at Timebook Town and have terrible DRM inside, which limits their lifespan to only 60 days. After that, the e-books (and sometimes even your own annotations) expire and have to be purchased again.

Probably only to Sony’s surprise, nor the Librié nor Timebook Town have been a success so far. There may be several reasons for this, but it seems the Librié’s way too restrictive DRM may have something to do with it. Apparently Sony understands this, too—since November 1st, the Librié download section offers a set of conversion tools that allow users to convert their own Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, (X)HTML documents or even RSS news items to the Librié’s BBeB format. Note: as the conversion process apparently turns your documents into a graphic BBeB file, text-zoom or text-selection won’t work. The (X)HTML2BBeB filter in the Librié IE toolbar doesn’t have this problem, meaning that you can download books for free from Project Gutenberg or its Japanese counterpart, Aozora Bunko, and read them on your Librié!

For more info, tips and screenshots, check Librie Templates.

Update: English info on Sony’s Librié software available on the LibrieWiki.

Comments on “Sony forced to rethink Librié concept” (feed)

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  1. So you still need to run Windows and IE to do that conversion, then, I presume? That’s *halfway* to useful…

    Oh well. here’s hoping someone reverse-engineers enough of the protocol eventually, so that plain XHTML can be converted and uploaded to the Librie — then it’ll be useful. That hardware *does* look very nice indeed, but without a way to get *my* data onto it, it’ll remain useless and off my wish-list ;)

    (aside: this is typical Sony; copy-protection defeating usefulness, resulting in a useless product. Here’s a story about that — I made a terrible mistake a few months ago of buying a Sony DVD+/-R/RW burner. I’d bought a Sony digital camera and had great results, with it producing open-standards output and just working with my Linux desktop, and assumed the DVD burner would be similar. Of course, I was wrong; the burner doesn’t allow you to do useful stuff like set the DVD “book type” bits, so the disks I burn for backups aren’t readable on many DVD-reader drives!)

    » Justin Mason on December 18th, 2004 at 10:29

  2. Andreas (and Justin), have you looked at the Librie group at Yahoo!? Link:

    They’ve had a utility that allows uploading of Project Gutenberg books for a while. It is a C program so it should be viable on LInux (although most successful use has been on Windows). They are also looking at the firmware upgrade right now.

    » The Matt on December 18th, 2004 at 10:35

  3. The Matt, thanks for that link. :-)
    Justin, the newly released Libri&é toolset exactly allows you to transfer your own data to the device.

    » Andreas on December 19th, 2004 at 13:18

  4. Does the newly released toolset transfer the data as text or as images?

    » Richard Soderberg on December 20th, 2004 at 13:11

  5. Richard, according to Librie Templates, “Newspaper for Libri&é” and “Toolbar for Libri&é” convert RSS items resp. (X)HTML documents into BBeB text. The “Printer for Libri&é” tool converts PDF, Word, etc. documents into a BBeB image, thus not allowing text-zoom functionality and the like.

    » Andreas on December 20th, 2004 at 22:38

  6. This is one of the few things in the world of tech that makes me so bloody angry at the moment. What the hell Sony were thinking of is beyond me and I can only assume they were under pressure to cripple the product in some way for fear of more traditional publications being hit.

    If there was a simple sync of common data formats to Librie via Mac and Windows this thing would fly off the shelves. I’d buy one straight off and cancel my bloody newspaper subscription. And therein may lie the problem.

    » Ian Cottee on December 21st, 2004 at 08:17

  7. If I could convert pdf’s from Linux it might be worth it.

    » macewan on December 22nd, 2004 at 11:31

  8. This post has been referenced at

    » Albert on December 22nd, 2004 at 17:46

  9. That thing is huge. It looks like they decided to make the screen the size of a paperback, so the whole thing’s almost the size of a hardcover book. It’s slim, yes, but way too big to stick in my pocket.

    I’ll stay with my old Clie SJ22, it’s got a color screen, it’s readable in sunlight or in the dark, and I can stick it in my pocket without worrying about snapping it in half when I sit down.

    Ian: buy a PalmOS device (there’s a very nice Clie with a half-VGA screen you can buy cheaply, now that Sony’s pulled out of the market), get a copy of Mobipocket Reader and Plucker, and cancel your subscriptions…

    I wonder if this is part of the reason Sony pulled the Clie from international distribution. If so, they pulled a typical Sony move with this thing.

    » Peter da Silva on January 4th, 2005 at 09:25

  10. the librie rocks. i’ve uploaded loads of books and manga to it already (i’ve had it 3 days). i convert pdfs to docs or txts before transfer/printing

    » joe on July 2nd, 2005 at 21:34