A New Discovery…

♫ And gazing down from yonder,
On a world of blue and green,
He’ll say with eyes of wonder,
I have seen, i have seen,
My eyes have seen…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Chris de Burgh.

A lawyer friend of mine told me about his recent use of his new Sony Reader in Court. No, this wasn’t to read books while waiting to speak in Chambers! He is using it in direct and cross-examination in court and I thought it would be of interest to the readers on Slaw. So with no further ado, here it is in his own words:

I thought I would contact you to let you know that I have recently purchased a Sony Reader Model PRS 600 (touch screen with dictionary) at a cost of $399 plus tax. I also purchased the leather book jacket for $40 (which comes with a night light) as well as an AC adapter for $40. I had looked at previous models and decided to wait until some of the issues had been resolved regarding the transfer of text and PDF files. I’ve used this amazing new device in a recent five day trial here in Victoria.

I was able to obtain a transcript of an examination for discovery (530 pages) from the court reporting service however it came as a Word document. I cleaned this document up using Open Office Notepad + + enter to get rid of metadata and remove unnecessary line spacing. Once this was accomplished, I uploaded the text document into the e-book Library program that comes with the Sony Reader. From my computer, I was able to transfer the transcript onto the Sony Reader without any problems.

Using my Sony Reader I was then reviewed the transcript and made notes for cross-examination purposes. This was very easy to do using a stylus to mark the transcript and to make hand written marginal notes where necessary. I have used a laptop at trial before however it is not a user-friendly piece of equipment when conducting cross-examination. Using a laptop, It is difficult to maintain eye contact with the witness and look for examination for discovery questions at the same time. It really takes a lot of the drama out of an effective cross-examination. The Sony Reader allowed me to overcome this problem as I held it in front of me while maintaining eye contact with the witness. I was even able to use the search function on the Sony Reader quickly to find additional questions that I had not previously bookmarked.

I tried using the Sony Reader to read a PDF version of the transcript, however there were problems when I changed the font from small to large. The Reader did not handle line-breaks very well . I was left with orphaned words throughout the document which should have been on the same line as the words that preceded them. Adobe Acrobat does have a 47 page document that instructs you on the preparation of e-book PDF files. This allows you to format a PDF file for the Sony Reader but I still found the results to be unsatisfactory. Interestingly, a PDF version of the transcript provided to me by the reporter was easily converted into a text file using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Export Text (Accessible) function. The text file was also easy to clean up using Notepad + +. I mention this because most of my other trial documents are in a PDF format and need to be converted into text documents for the Reader. I am now preparing for a three-week trial in March 2010 and have put all of my documents onto a 4 GB SDHC Card with a read speed of 133X. The Sony Reader comes with an SD slot as well as its own Sony Memory Stick Pro DUO.

I have not experimented with graphic files or pictures. The Reader allow you to change the font size but not the pictures that are found in a PDF file.

If you are interested in looking at a 10 minute video review of the Sony Reader, which goes through the functionality of the device you can find it at:


Oh, and by the way, Sony and Google have an agreement so that thousands of copies of Project Gutenberg books (http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/) are now available free of charge. Your local library will also allow you to sign out e-books online which can be uploaded to your Sony Reader. The nice thing about this is that the e-book disappears from your Reader unless you renew it prior to the due date. Using the Sony Reader, you can therefore eliminate all library fines!

Thanks to Barclay Johnson [bwjohnson at shaw.ca] of Victoria BC for allowing me to post his experiences here in order that all of us can gaze with eyes of wonder and say I have seen ..I have seen…


  1. Fascinating stuff! Thank you to Barclay Johnson for sharing with us. I wonder if others will follow suit?

  2. Wow! Sounds like a love affair with the Sony Reader has only just begun. :)

    I agree with Barclay’s sentiments about the use of laptops for cross-examination…I do indeed use mine but have often felt it hamstrings me a bit in terms of the flow and drama of cross.

    I wonder though whether the same euphoric feeling of examination freedom can be accomplished by switching to a tablet PC with Lotus One Note operating. I haven’t tried this myself but I’d be hesitant to spend $500 (give or take) on an e-reader that I have to lug around in addition to my laptop when a robust tablet for approx. $2000 could probably replace both.

  3. Edward:

    I would be waiting to use the *(long)* awaited and anticipated Mac Tablet – I am sure that it would be a leg up on everything else out there…but for now (since the Mac Tablet is as of yet, just a dream….) the Sony Reader sounds like a real innovation.



  4. Thanks for the comments. The Sony Reader is not perfect by any means, but it is a step in the right direction. Edward makes a good point about using a tablet PC because there are no conversion issues. Still, the Reader is worth a look if for no other reasons than its size and portability.
    I decided to have a look on-line to see if there were any free e-book services to convert my MS Word and .pdf files. Sure enough, I found one at this site http://www.lib2go.com. I uploaded the BC Legal Aid Tariff Guide and it came back in an e-book format for my Sony Reader. Lib2Go is a free online converter developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum and LRF (Sony’s proprietary BBeB format). You can upload 5 files at a time to a maximum of 25Mb.
    This should make life a bit easier for those bold enough to try the Reader!