The Least You Should KnowAbout eBooks and eReaders Formats, Forerunners, DRM, & Options for Patrons
eBooks - Definition “eBooks” is a blanket term that can refer to any book format that is available digitally, including all the various forms of audio and text. These formats range widely and include reading and listening to books on personal computers and personal audio devices – even traditional web pages that have the text of a book fit within the wide “eBook” category. However, most recent patron questions regarding eBooks center around a very specific type of eBook that can be read using a personal “eReader.”
Amazon.com - Kindle Kindle was the first to make eReaders a “household name.” Kindle eBooks work only with Kindle, much like iTunes and iPod.
Sony - Reader Sony was the first “big name” Reader (they had one out before Kindle). While Sony’s Reader has a proprietary format (like Kindle), it also allows owners to use a wider variety of additional formats (recently this includes an agreement with Google Books). Sony’s Reader will not display Barnes and Noble books…yet.
Barnes and Noble - Nook The Nook has an updated version of the same Adobe Digital Rights Management (DRM) software used by Sony, so it will display the books designed for the Sony Reader. Software not related to DRM for the Nook and the Sony Reader are designed differently which could cause problems. Nook allows users to lend some books to friends.
Apple - iPad iPads are basically large iPhones (without calling capabilities). iPads are not dedicated solely to eBooks; they use “Apps” which mimic eReading devices and allow users to read eBooks.
Various – Cell Phones Smart phones allow “Apps,” just like the iPad. These Apps allow owners to read eBooks from their phone using additional software (also like the iPad). The most common phone formats are iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry; each is unique and programs written for any of the three are not useable with the other two.
Most Supported File Types Supported by all major eReaders and Smart Phones..PDF Sometimes protected by digital rights management (DRM). Supported by all major eReaders except the Nook.TXT and all Smart Phones Supported by iPad, Smart Phones, & some versions.HTML of Kindle. Supported by Kindle, iPad, Smart Phones, & some.MOBI versions of Sony Reader..EPUB Supported by Sony Reader, Nook, iPad & Smart Phones. Some ebooks are protected by DRM.
Proprietary File Types.AMZ Supported only by Kindle..LRF Supported only by Sony Readers..LRXProprietary File types use Digital Rights Managementprogramming, which is discussed in the next section of thispresentation.
Other Noteworthy File Types Often used for Smart Phones and Palm devices..PDB Also supported by Nook. Most eBook readers also support .mp3 audio.MP3 playback. (Note: .mp3 is NOT an eBook file format.)
(DRM) Digital Rights Management “Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a collection of systems that attempts to control how content is used. In its most basic form, think of DRM as a lock and key. Content that is protected by DRM is put in to a lock box and only authorized users have the key to open the box.” (definition taken from Screen Actor’s Guild Glossary: http://www.sag.org/content/new-media-glossary)
(DRM) Digital Rights ManagementSo, why don’t .PDF files downloaded from our databases work on patrons’ Kindles? .PDF eBook files available through Overdrive are protected with DRM. As the definition explained, this means they are locked. Kindle, at least for now, doesn’t have the proper key to unlock .PDF files protected by DRM. Additionally, Amazon.com uses DRM to lock .AMZ eBook files so that only Kindle can open books purchased from Amazon.com. Just as Amazon.com uses DRM to encourage use of its Kindle, Apple uses DRM to encourage use of iPods, iPhones, etc.
Why Make More Complications? DRM “locking” of files naturally leads to “3rd Party” programs which “unlock” eBooks for eReading devices. Some are illegal in the U.S. “3rd Party” refers to the fact that these programs are neither eBooks nor are they necessarily eReaders, but are a 3rd type of program intended to bridge the gap caused by DRM. Perhaps a better term for them would be “support software.”
Why Make More Complications? Such software comes in a variety of forms and is updated regularly. This causes a great deal of variety and competition between eReader manufacturers, software developers, and others. Some examples of these programs are the software that runs Nook and Sony Reader. They both use an Adobe product to display eBooks on eReaders, but the Nook has a newer version. Also, the same Adobe software is used by patrons to read eBooks downloaded by Overdrive.
Adobe Reader Mobile This screen shot gives a great example of what Adobe products do as “support” OverDrive software.
Mobipocket This screen shot shows the wide variety of devices with which Mobipocket may be used.
iPad & Smart Phone Apps iPad and Smart Phone users can read eBooks from their devices, but they also need 3rd Party applications to interpret the eBook formats. These programs for phones and iPads are marketed as “Apps” and entire stores are devoted to such programs – only a small fraction of which relate to eBooks.
iPad & Smart Phone Apps Apple Apps and Droid apps are among the most popular and well-used phone and iPad programs for reading eBooks. Some of them are: Kindle Apps Nook Apps Borders Apps iBooks App (click on the above links for more specific information)
iPad & Smart Phone Apps Many Apps allow users to change text size, page size, and even save their place across multiple devices. For instance, if a user were reading an eBook on their iPad at home, then wanted to continue reading the same eBook on their smart phone while waiting for the bus – the app allows them to pick up where they left off with their iPad.
File Conversion Software As with music and word processing files, software that will change eBooks from one format to another are becoming more popular. Just as with other file types, using these programs may compromise the quality of the file – especially with DRM protected files. At the left are some (certainly not all) free options for patrons who may wish to attempt converting files. (Pictures at left are links)
Project Gutenberg Because publishers have not established borrowing agreements with vendors such as OverDrive and NetLibrary many popular titles are only available for purchase through Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Google Books. This may change over time, but for now limitations on access are due to legal, rather than technical reasons. Since access through library resources is meager, the following resources are a good start for patrons seeking eBooks compatible with their eReaders.
Project Gutenberg www.gutenberg.org The Gutenberg project was/is the forerunner for eBooks, especially those in the public domain. All Gutenberg books are free, but generally old because the project only accepts books that are in the public domain. Gutenberg.org offers eBooks in multiple formats, including the most common (see previous slides) and some less common.
Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/details/texts Internet Archive combines many online text resources including children’s eBooks and some manuscripts. Internet archive books are free and come from a variety of sources including various libraries. The Archive offers formats in easy-to-understand language (Amazon’s proprietary format is listed as “Kindle,” rather than .AMZ)
Google Books Recently (Dec. 6, 2010) Google began to offer eBooks in the public domain that have been scanned and ditigized by Google.com or are sold with an agreement from publishers. Readers will need to search for books at www.books.google.com, then, on the next page, click on the link to the “best” free ebooks Google has to offer.
Google Books Next, readers will need to download an eBook file to their computer (in either .epub or .pdf format). Readers may also need to download an app for their phone or iPad. Finally, readers should download and place the file on their device. (They may also save a copy of the book to their Google “library”) Because of file formats and DRM, these books will work on all of the popular eReaders mentioned at the beginning of this slide except Kindle.
Google Books Readers may also search for books using Google’s more comprehensive search for eBooks by following the other link at www.books.google.com, finding an appropriate book, then clicking on the link to download a .PDF version to their computer and place the file on their device.
OverDrive OverDrive’s Quickstart guide gives three steps to getting started with eBooks: Download and install free software. Activate Software Checkout, Download and Enjoy Here is a link to the QuickStart Guide.
OverDrive OverDrive recently (Early Dec. 2010) released new Media Consoles specific to various eReader devices. Here is a link to their page: OverDrive Media Console.
NetLibrary NetLibrary’s process is similar: Download and install free software. Activate Software Read Here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation put out by NetLibrary with instructions for downloading eBooks for eReaders.
Books on CD Davis County Library does have eBooks in the physical collection. Most of them come from the BCD collection (often on Tantor products). The rest are scattered mainly through the Adult Non-Fiction collection in supplementary discs that come with printed books.
Books on CD The instructions to the left show how to search for most of these types of eBooks using the search term “ebook”. An alternative method is to search for “ebooks” instead, and not limit the search to BCD. This yields two records, one of which contains a CD with an eBook version of the title and 9 other eBook titles.
The Truth About eReaders While eReaders and eBooks may seem daunting, they represent a genuinely unique opportunity for librarians to help patrons obtain quality materials, often for free. Whether we like it or not, eBooks have become a big deal in how patrons access and publishers produce information. They won’t go away, even if we decide to ignore them.
Links for More Information The Handheld Librarianhttp://handheldlib.blogspot.com/ “eBook” entry in Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-book