eBook and eReader Guide 2010
What’s the difference between an eBook and an eReader?
An eBook is an electronic version of a printed work. For example, a book can be scanned and turned
into a PDF (Portable Document Format) so that it can be read on a computer, an eReader, or a
An eReader, also known as eBook Reader, is either a hand-held device or software downloaded to a
computer or smartphone. It is capable of storing and reading eBooks. For instance, the Amazon Kindle
is a hand-held eReader device, and Adobe Digital Editions is eReader software. Most eReaders use
technology that makes the digital screen look like a printed page with low light in the background.
That is what makes them different from reading text on a regular computer screen.
What’s the difference between eReader devices?
In terms of functionality, style, and price, there is some difference. There is also difference in the file
formats they will support. Some eReader devices, such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble
nook, have proprietary digital rights (DRM) for eBook formats intended for their brand’s device. So, if
you own a B&N nook, you cannot buy eBooks from Amazon and download them to the B&N nook.
And vice versa. Here’s some info on the three major eReader devices currently on the U.S. market:
Amazon Kindle is made by Amazon (www.amazon.com) and customers will have to buy most of
their titles from them. The Kindle also supports audiobooks but they must be purchased from
Amazon. The ePUB format is not compatible with the Kindle, so some library eBooks cannot be
downloaded to it. It is compatible with PDF, which many free eBook websites use. Features:
keyboard, built-in dictionary, audio and free wireless internet.
Sony Reader is a product of Sony and has a dedicated website (http://ebookstore.sony.com/)
that allows you to download eBooks and audiobooks. The website also has a “Library Finder”
search option, where you can find what library near you offers eBooks. The Sony Reader is
compatible with ePUB and PDF formats. Features: touchscreen (except for Pocket Edition),
Daily Edition has free wireless internet, and built-in dictionary.
Barnes and Noble nook offers eBook titles from their website
(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/). Owners of the B&N nook can “lend” purchased
material to other B&N nook owners for up to 14 days at a time. It supports the ePUB and PDF
formats. Features: color touchscreen/keypad, audio, and free wireless internet.
• See eReader Comparison Chart below for more detailed information
• For a quick look at different eReader devices, go to:
Business Week’s Buyer’s Guide (Dec 2009)
Wired Magazine Product Reviews (Mar 2010)
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How can I download eBooks to my eReader device or software?
• Consult your device’s manual or the Help/FAQ section on their website to learn how to download
eBooks, since it varies between devices. Generally, it goes like this:
o Download eBooks directly to your device over the Internet, if your device is Internet-
enabled (usually wirelessly) OR
o Download to your computer from your Web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla
Firefox). Then, transfer the eBook file(s) to your device using a USB cable or similar method.
Before copying, you might use a program on your computer to transform the files to
another format. OR
o Use a third party site (including some for-fee sites), which facilitate getting files onto your
• Due to the large number of eBook file formats and the restricted nature of some eReaders, not all
eBook file formats can be downloaded to all eReaders. A universally standard format and form of
delivery have yet to be developed. However, PDF and TXT formats are accepted by most eReaders
and, increasingly, so is ePUB (electronic publication).
• Smartphones such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm Pre can also download some types of
eReader software to make it possible to read eBooks on them.
How do I find free eBooks?
It is possible to obtain eBooks for free…if they are in the public domain or if the publisher has allowed
them to be downloaded freely. The following are a few sites that offer free eBooks including classics,
romance, and even some newer books. Some of these sites also sell eBooks, so look for a tab or button
called Free Ebooks:
Google Book Search
http://www.archive.org Just Free Books (search engine just for
finding free eBooks)
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Where can I get free eReader software?
The following sites offer free software that can be downloaded to a computer or smartphone,
so they can be used to read eBooks. Be aware that some take more technical know-how to
install than others and are not universally compatible:
Adobe Digital Editions (Sony Reader, other eReader devices, Windows PC, Mac)
eReader (smartphones, Windows PC, Mac, Linux)
Blio (not yet available)
Calibre (Windows PC, Mac, Linux)
ComicRack (specifically for comics, Windows PC)
Kobo (iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Prē and Android)
Barnes & Noble eReader (nook, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Windows PC, Mac)
Microsoft Reader (Windows PC and Mobile)
Stanza (iPhone and iPod Touch)
MobiPocket (PDAs and smartphones)
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Do I own an eBook after I have paid for it and downloaded it?
Yes, but you may not be able to access it from different devices. In the current publishing
market, many books are offered simultaneously in print and as an eBook. When you buy a print
book, you own it and you can lend it.
The majority of eBooks that you buy come with DRM built in. DRM stands for Digital Rights
Management and is a way for publishers to maintain copyright control of the digital version of
books. This means that you cannot always use the eBook you have purchased between devices
or computers. Lending software is starting to be used by some eReader companies (see the
What else do I need to know?
• Always be sure to read the system requirements and FAQs before downloading any
software. Remember, not all eBook formats can be read by all eReaders, so read the
information available to see what formats are supported by each eReader device or
• The above resources and websites are not endorsed by Manatee County Public Library
or its staff, and are only offered as avenues to explore in the growing field of eBook and
eReader resources. MCPL staff cannot offer technical assistance in downloading or
installing software, or downloading eBooks to your computer or device.
• Download software at your own risk!
• For a complete list of eBook file formats, types of eReader software, and lots of other
information…try MobileRead Wiki: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Main_Page
• Your eReader is not only good for eBooks, but also articles, recipes, instruction manuals,
etc., as long as they are in a file format that is supported by your device or software
• see eReader Comparison Chart below
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