The following how-to guide was created by Mandy Briggs, reviewer for and co-owner of Rogues and Romance. I'm ecstatic she agreed to share her expertise.

The Sony PSP as an eBook Reader & Media Player

by Mandy Briggs

Hello readers! My name is Mandy Briggs and I am an avid romance reader and reviewer. If you're like me, you've been seeing a lot of great authors and books coming out with e-publishers. eBooks are definitely great- they're inexpensive, will never get bent up or water damaged, and you can fit an entire library on one CD-R! Not to mention, you can find, purchase, and start reading a great book in less than ten minutes! However, ebooks have previously lacked the portability of their print counterparts, unless the reader prints it out themselves. But if you devour as many books as I do, that's a lot of paper! Also, it's just a lot more comfortable to be able to curl up with a good book rather than sitting at the computer to read.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLuckily, there are plenty of great handheld eBook readers that support all kinds of formats. However, what a lot of readers don't know is that you can use handheld gaming systems to read your eBooks. Vanessa Gilfoy started a lot of buzz when she wrote her fantastic
post about the Nintendo DS on the Cerridwen Press blog, and she was kind enough to invite me to share with you readers how I use my Sony PSP for ebook reading.

The Sony PSP is a sleek, lightweight handheld with a generous sized LCD screen. You can hold it very comfortably, and there's not much you can't do with it! Watch movies, play games, store and view your photos, surf the internet, and of course, read your ebooks. But you aren't limited to eBooks- anything you can save in a document will work. Students can save articles, text, and even their test reviews to take with them on the go.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketYou have two methods of loading your movies and games. First, you can buy movies and games on UMD, a mini CD in a plastic shell that loads into your PSP much like a cassette player. Movies and games range anywhere from five to forty dollars, but I like to buy mine used at GameStop , Hastings, or GameXchange, they have great prices! Since almost every part of the disk is covered by the permanent plastic shell, scratches are pretty much non-existent. Another way to load games and movies onto your PSP is to download the files onto your computer and transfer them to your memory card, or you can even download them directly onto your memory card. I recommend using Sony's Media Manager software ($16.95), which you install on your computer. Then all you have to do is hook up your PSP to your computer using the USB cable provided with the software, and Media Manager makes it a piece of cake to load pictures, songs, movie files, documents, and internet feeds to your PSP. It converts all your documents into the perfect size for reading on your PSP, and supports just about every movie format there is. Not only that, but it can extract songs from your CD's and load them onto your PSP!

Now, let's get to the good stuff- reading your eBooks! How does it work? Well, the eBook (in document form) is converted by Media Manager into a html file compatible with the PSP screen, and you pull it up with the PSP's internet browser, just like you would read an html file on your computer. So what eBook format do I need to buy? I've found that html is the easiest to convert to a document, because you can either copy and paste into a document, or you can go to your word processor, choose “Open”, choose you html file, and it will open up in a document window. Then all you have to do is make any font or size changes you would like, and save the file. Then you're all set to transfer using Media Manager. So what if I have eBooks in other file formats besides html, how do I convert those? If you have eBooks in .doc or .rtf, then you're already covered. For .pdf, you just “Select All”, “Copy”, and paste into a document. The only bad thing about this is that the headers end up in your text. But trust me, it's not as bad as you think, and you end up not even noticing it after a bit. For Microsoft Reader files, you're in luck! There's a free, spyware and adware free program called ABC Amber Lit Converter that will convert your lit files to just about any file you can think of! So you can convert your .lit files into documents, then delete the header and footer (that will say “Converted by ABC Lit…”), and you're ready to transfer!

So far it sounds awesome! But can you tell me some of the things I need to know that you won't see in the commercials? Sure, some things I had to figure out myself, and for you PSP newbies, I am happy to pass on the info, even if it might discourage you. First of all, it's important to know that you MUST have Microsoft Word 2003 (XP) or higher for Media Manager to convert your files and make your book list on your PSP. Next, the PSP does not have any internal memory other than the memory for the firmware (the operating system) and the working memory. So, you'll need to buy a memory card. But I can tell you this, you would end up buying a memory card anyway with all the stuff you'll want to load on your PSP. Third, I have found that when you are reading an eBook that has a higher page count (over 150 document pages), it is better if you split the book into two parts. Otherwise, you run the risk of running out of working memory and your spot “freezing” up. I usually split long books into several parts in case I need to exit out of my book in internet explorer for any reason. That makes it much easier to get back to my place. Fourth, this is true for just about any handheld, but you absolutely MUST buy the little clear plastic screen protector ($4.99) to avoid getting scratches on your screen. You need to apply it literally as soon as you take your PSP out of its box, so your screen will be protected. Okay, that's it! That's all the words of caution I have for you. Not too bad, right?

Let me close by saying that no matter which way you're leaning on purchasing a PSP, if you are an eBook reader, a handheld gaming system is the way to go. There are just too many things you can do with it. As for me and my PSP, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Sites for free PSP Downloads
Playstation Underground- wallpapers for your PSP, game demos, music, trailers, and more! Game Demos- comprehensive list and downloads of available free game demos, including those released in Japan. Obviously, those are in Japanese, but you don't have to speak or read Japanese to play a lot of them. This site also has a TON of free wallpapers for your PSP.
PSP Blender Blog's post: The 23 Best Places for free PSP Downloads- my favorite part of this list is the free Comic book downloads that are readable on your PSP- and the official Sony sites where you can download cool stuff- free of course!