Recently I took delivery of a Sony Reader. I had to buy it - new - on eBay as Australians can't buy it online from any official Sony website. Nor will Sony offer me any technical support for my shiny ruby eBay purchase because I'm not a 'real' customer. And I certainly can't buy e-books from the Sony store, but I can from Books on Board and other online e-bookshops who don't care that I live in Australia.
While I have bought a handful of e-books, I mainly use the Reader for work. I load it up with manuscripts and I convert all my submission emails to txt files and put them on it too. And I have to say that it's changed my life. No longer do I have to lug manuscripts home and wear out a shoulder joint in the process; no longer are my house and office adorned with piles of paper. I find that this new way of doing things helps me better keep track of what I've read and it's just more efficient all round. It also means I can take a smaller handbag on the bus (see above mention of shoulder joint for implied benefit) as the Reader is very small and slender.
One reason I made the decision to buy a Reader rather than wait for an iPad was because all I needed an extra device for was the reading. I already have an iPhone, which I love and adore, and I didn't want to buy a glorified, oversized iPhone just for the e-reader capability. Another reason was that the iPad weighs a lot more and isn't as compact in size, and thus the weight and size advantage of an e-reader over physical manuscripts or books would be somewhat lost. So, even though I'm an Apple loyalist - iMac, iPhone, iPod - I've demurred on this occasion, and I don't regret it.
I wish the Reader were available to more Australians, although I understand the difficulties of introducing an e-book-only device in this country: there just aren't that many e-books produced for the Australia/New Zealand territories. So if you were Sony you'd be thinking (collectively) that there's no point going to the trouble of making the device available if there's not a lot for people who aren't in the publishing industry to put on it. And while there isn't a device like it in this country - and Kindle doesn't count, really, because it's for Kindle books only - there's less incentive for publishers to create e-books. Thereby we come to the classic chicken-and-egg scenario, and frankly I don't think Sony should be the one to go first.
Australian publishers are slowly starting to produce e-books - although two (Macmillan and Allen & Unwin) have been doing it for a while - but it's not really fast enough. They're also not, as far as I can tell, planning to produce e-books for overseas titles for which they have the ANZ e-book rights, which is a source of frustration. Many is the time I've gone through the buying process for foreign English-language books on Books on Board, putting in my payment details, only to be presented with a screen saying that the e-book is not available in my territory. No, and neither is the print book. Except in the library, which is where I have to go if I want to read it. And that means the author doesn't get the royalty they would have received if I'd bought the e-book. Which will probably never be produced in this territory. Around we go again.
So we're still waiting to find out what's really happening here, but time is running out. And in the meantime I can't buy many Australian books for my non-Australian Sony Reader and I would really like to. I would probably buy more of them, especially if the price were lower than the RRP. But I can't. Cheep cheep.