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Dear Jane: Should I Buy Aluratek Libre eBook Reader (or one...

I just recently purchased the ALURATEK “LIBRE” EBOOK READER PRO W-how do I download other novels such as Romance Novels, Fantasy, etc and would all the downloads have to be in the e-book format or can I go to an on-line website that offers free reading material and download to my e-reader to read at a later date? I have never used an e-reader before, and don't really understand how it works. Thank you in advance for your assistance, your help/response is greatly appreciated.

This reader and I exchanged several emails.   The short answer is the Aluratke “Libre” Ebook Reader Pro accepts DRM’ed and non DRM’ed ePub books.   To get books onto that device, you will need to use Adobe Digital Editions.   DRM’ed ePub books are a little strange.   When you first download a “book” from your etailer, you are actually downloading a file that tells the ebook gods (servers hosting the ebooks) that you are okay to download this ebook.   When you double click on “URLLink.acsm”, Adobe Digital Editions ACSM iconshould launch and then download the real book.   The real book file is stored in your “My Documents/Digital Editions” folder on the PC or “Documents/Digital Editions” on the Mac.   Once your book is downloaded through Adobe Digital Editions (i.e., the second download), you can go ahead and delete the URLLink.acsm file.

Sometimes this system fails.   Like when the ebook gods are sleeping or angry at you and you double click on the ACSM file a dozen times thinking why hasn’t my frigging ebook downloaded yet only to find out that there was some hiccup and you end up with fifteen copies of your ebook when the ebook gods finally get their act together.   Or sometime the ebook gods think that you don’t deserve your book because you haven’t authenticated even when you really have.   Which is why the first question you must answer if you are thinking about a generic ePub reader is this:

“How technically literate are you?” If you aren’t, then I recommend returning the generic eReader and getting a low priced Kindle or nook (wi fi only).   The hassle you will go through with these generic epub readers will just not be worth the hassle, I promise you.   Let me repeat, if you are not technologically literate, if you don’t like tinkering around on your computer, don’t buy a generic ePub reader.

By technically literate, I think you would need to know a) how to download and install a computer program (Adobe Digital Editions); b) how to download and locate files (like URLLink.acsm); c) how to associate a program with a file (some computers mess up and you have to tell your computer what program – Adobe Digital Editions – should open what file – URLLink.acsm); and c) the location of your My Documents folder.

Sometimes Adobe Digital Editions won’t authenticate.   Jayne, my blogging partner, has had an authentication problem with ADE forever and there isn’t a live technical person who can help her out.

My second question is “Where do you want to shop?” If you buy a generic ePub reader, you WILL NOT be able to buy ebooks from Amazon or Barnes&Noble unless you know how to strip the DRM off the Kindle and nook books.   If you buy a generic ePub reader (or any ePub reader that is not the nook), you will not be able to buy books from Barnes&Noble, even though BN sells ePub books because BN uses a different encryption scheme.   Amazon uses an entirely different format (Mobi).

You can shop at the Sony store, Kobo, Borders, and many other retailers who sell ePub but you will have to use the dreaded Adobe Digital Editions.

My last question would be “How important is customer service?”   Digital files sometimes means you will need digital help.   Even I can’t solve every ebook related problem as much as I would like to (see, for example, my friend Jayne’s ADE authentication problem).   Amazon has some of the best Customer Service and so does Kobo. Barnes & Noble for the ebooks is less than great, taking days to get back to you.   These generic ePub readers will probably have little to no support help.

Unless the price is so cheap that you just can’t resist the ePub device, I urge you to consider the nook, Kindle, or even Kobo reader.   In the end, you’ll be much happier.

If you want to take advantage of the freebies, you need to “purchase” and download them when they are having the specials. You can then read those at a later date.   You can download freebies from BN and Amazon onto your computer using their Windows or Mac apps BUT these will not be able to be read on your generic ePub reading device.

Standard novels are not freebies, but cost money just like a paper book, but publishers will have promotional freebies. I.e., download the book for free for the next two weeks.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Estara
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 07:59:03

    True, true, true.

    But it’s worth it to me for the fact that my sellers don’t have the ability to yank any book I’ve bought back and that I can buy at multiple places.

    But then I’m definitely not technologically illiterate ^^.

    If the price comes down in a year, my second ereader will most likely be a Sony PRS 650.

  2. Tweets that mention Dear Jane: Should I Buy Aluratek Libre eBook Reader (or one of these generic ePub readers)? | Dear Author --
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 10:08:06

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Wester Newton, Vibhu Kamalia. Vibhu Kamalia said: RT @dearauthor: NewPost: Dear Jane: Should I Buy Aluratek Libre eBook Reader (or one of these generic ePub readers)? […]

  3. Mike Cane
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 11:04:19

    Odd that you left out all mention of Sony while okaying the Kobo Reader. Both, after all, require cable syncing.

    At any rate, there will be a WiFi Kobo Reader at some point this year, which will put it in the “Look Ma, no cables!” camp along with the Nook and Kindle.

    I hate the jetBook and Libre for the same reasons: too many buttons and in the “wrong” lighting, the screens look like old calculator displays.

    Generally, people should stick with, in no order, Kindle, Sony, Kobo, and Nook. (Even though I fear for the Nook’s longevity, it not being international like the others.) Avoid all the ghastly things that will be showing up in drug stores and discounters this year.

  4. John
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 11:49:44

    I have a generic and don’t really mind it, but then again, the ebook store it has is okay enough that I don’t really need to worry much about it. Next time I trade up I’m definitely going for a kindle or something, though. Generics can be quite a pain.

  5. Ridley
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 12:34:45

    I bought the Sony for the same reason I’ve never owned a credit card. I don’t trust my impulsive nature.

    Putting books on a Sony is a bit of a song and dance. I downloaded Calibre to use instead of the eye-twitchingly horrendous Sony library, I have a few things to strip DRM, I’ve set tags and folders for things, and so on. When my mom wanted to get what I had, I begged her not to. She’s better than most women her age when it comes to computers, but I still foresaw tech support phone calls in my future.

    All of this limits my book buying, and THANK GOD. My already bought and owned TBR list stands at 120 right now. My to-buy list is another 150+. If it wasn’t a 30 minute endeavor to load books, my debit card would get wrung dry as soon as my direct deposit hit my account.

    So, yes, the necessary computer massaging is a major downside if you’re not tech savvy. But if you are savvy, and you have an impulsive shopper inside of you, it can also be a huge boon.

    Either way, it’s no mystery why Sony isn’t taking Nook or Kindle down anytime soon. Easy > technical superiority for most people.

  6. janicu
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 14:50:14

    You know, I had a problem with authenticating and ADE too. With authenticating my nook. I ended up having to delete the .adobe-digital-editions folder on my nook, eject the nook drive (right click on nook(E:) and Eject), plug the nook back in, then start ADE. After that it automatically detected my nook and authorized it. Pain in the butt to figure out. I am a technical person, but I still like it better when I don’t have to figure out the root of a problem. Things should just WORK, dammit.

  7. Jody
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 15:02:02

    I’m not particularly tech savvy–I still can’t operate my digital camera, but I’ve had the Libre for a little over a month and love it.

    I purchased it because I resent Nook and Kindle’s monopoly at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and I wanted the ability to download anything I wanted off Project Gutenberg, not just what Amazon or B&N thought I should read.

    Project Gutenberg is pure gold–E. Philips Oppenheim, P.G. Wodehouse, E. Nesbit, Ethel M. Dell, even a gem from my 1960’s childhood called, “It’s Like This, Cat.” Truly an embarassment of riches.

    I’m less thrilled with the books I’ve purchased for my Libre (maybe leased is the correct word). IMO, e-books are way too expensive for their vastly inferior and fragile incarnation.

    I’ll continue to download my classics from PG and borrow new books from the library.

  8. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 16:53:50

    Kind of off topic and it’s only good today AFAIK, but you can get $2 off books at Kobo using the code twodollars. The code can be used multiple times. Although having to checkout multiple times (each book you buy is a “separate” sale) can be a pain, saving $2 a pop makes it bearable.

    This is only good on non-agency books so Harlequin, Kensington, Random House (and it’s labels like Knopf & Ballentine) all work great.

    Hope this helps someone out.

  9. Lisa J
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 17:44:12

    @Brian: I was able to get the new Kresley Cole book, Demon from the Dark, with the $2 off. It’s an agency book and one they listed.

  10. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 17:49:13

    Interesting. The email they sent be said agency books were excluded.

  11. Lisa J
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 19:10:39

    @Brian: The coupon wouldn’t work, but the book was on the list so I called customer service and they gave me a credit for the difference. I even mentioned that it was an agency book, but the guy I spoke with said because it was listed they would honor it.

  12. Statch
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 19:27:21

    The email I got from Kobo on the discount said “Discount code is valid for $2.00 off an individual eBook purchase excluding Hachette Book Group USA, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Macmillan, and all respective subsidiary imprints.”

    However, they also gave a link to a list to select from to get the discount, and that list included ebooks from the excluded publishers. So it looks like you could use the coupon for either books from the list OR any non-Agency books.

    I’ve been ignoring these coupons because I find it too annoying to page through the list (this one has 17 pages), but I saw on ‘Books on the Knob’ that it could be used for all non-Agency books so I tried it, and they were right. I stocked up on Harlequin Medicals, each for less than $1.50. (It is a pain buying them one at a time, though. I couldn’t add more than one at a time to the cart.)

    Even for tech-savvy people, you can spend a considerable amount of time figuring all this out. So the amount of time you’re willing/able to spend on gadgets is another factor in choosing which reader to buy. I happen to enjoy it, and have the time, but if I didn’t, I’d buy a Kindle in a minute.

  13. Jane
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 20:04:47

    @Statch: Statch – that is such a good idea. I am going to buy a bunch of the HQN Med Romance too.

  14. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 20:13:11

    @Statch: That’s funny. I bought a half dozen Med romances on this sale. I tried one after a post here a week or two ago and liked it so figured this would be a cheap way to pick some more up (I’ve already gone through about a dozen, LOL).

    One thing I noticed is the ones I bought have pretty crappy formatting. I don’t know if this is a Kobo thing or a Harlequin thing. Any other book I’ve had from Harlequin (Mira, Luna, etc.) has been fine, but 6 of the nine books I got today are questionable on formatting.

  15. Kaetrin
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 20:29:28

    I have a Sony reader and I use Calibre. I’m not particularly tech savvy although over time, I’ve taught myself how to use pycrypto and the DRM stripping tools for ePub and pdf files.

    I’m still an impulse buyer. Even though I can’t download books directly to the Sony (I’m in Australia anyway so I’m not sure if this is an option here at all) it doesn’t stop me from buying books on impulse. To load one up on the Sony doesn’t take me long at all – a couple of minutes.

    I haven’t used the other devices, but I’d say that the Sony is easy to use and so is Calibre. I buy most of my ebooks from Books on Board, All Romance eBooks or the individual publisher such as Dreamspinner, LooseID, eHarlequin etc.

    The Kindle is available in Australia now but I’ve steered clear of it because I didn’t want to be restricted to Amazon. Besides, having had a Sony for so long, most of my books are pdf or epub files which don’t work on a Kindle anyway.

  16. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 21:12:38

    @Kaetrin: FWIW, if your ePubs are deDRM’d it’s usually just a matter of a couple clicks to get them into Mobi format for the Kindle. Also you’re only locked into Amazon for books from big publishers (pretty much) since they all use DRM, but if you deDRM then you can get those anywhere you want. Smaller pubs like LooseID, Samhain, etc. don’t DRM if buying direct or through someplace like Fictionwise and usually sell in Mobi format (or ePub which converts easily).

    That said IMO the Sony’s are really no harder to use provided you don’t run into issues with the Sony software or ADE which unfortunately some folks do.

    I’ve got a Sony, an Opus and a couple of Kindles and none are really hard to use. I bought my Mom a Kindle though, because even for someone completely non-technical like her it “just works”.

  17. Sunita
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 22:32:25

    @Brian: I’m guessing it’s Kobo thing, because I’ve purchased Medicals from eHarlequin, Amazon, Mills & Boon UK, and WHSmith, in various DRM versions, and the formatting has been consistently good on all of those.

  18. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 22:53:59

    @Sunita: Yeah, I’ve checked two Amy Andrews titles against the Kindle versions and the Kindle samples look fine. Other titles I’ve gotten from Kobo have been fine, but these definitely don’t. I can fix the problems I know about pretty easily, but…

    I guess I figured that since Hqn does epub now they were just sending Kobo an already done ePub copy to throw on their DRM server, but these must have been done by Kobo (maybe they have a mad intern on the loose or something ^_^).

    These have messed up paragraph spacing, no indents, words run together, no covers and are missing the info that’s normally at the front of each book.

  19. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 23:19:01

    Well, I sent an email off to both Kobo and Harlequin so we’ll see what they have to say.

    If anyone uses the coupon to get some Hqn titles I hope your stuff is problem free.

  20. lucy
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 23:26:25

    I bought a generic ereader-an astek mentor lite that I found for $100-and it has been a bit of a pain to use. Mainly because I decided to update the firmware, which I did manage. But I couldn’t use the company firmware because the ereader kept freezing, and customer service was unhelpful and a bit sketchy.

    Anyways, I consider myself a bit tech savvy but If I could have seen the future, I wouldn’t have bothered buying it. But I’ll keep it for the free ebooks-and because I’m too lazy to return it-and use the kindle (if I like it) for everything else when it gets here.

    The ereader itself is not that bad-it even has some features that kindle lacks and it has been a breeze to sideload non-drm ebooks into it but I’m not in love with it.

  21. Brian
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 23:40:47

    @lucy: If you haven’t already tried, you’ll probably get better help from other users over at Mobile Read than you will from Astak. I seems like a lot of Netronix devices (some Astak, Bookeen, Kobo, Cooler, etc.) have one issue or another that is sometimes fixed by a firmware update.

    One plus with epub devices is the ability to used DRM’d library books on them if your library offers that option (or if you’re a non-resident card holder for someplace like the Free Library of Philadelphia).

  22. Monday Midday Links: UK Retailers and Publishers Begin Pricing Battle | Dear Author
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 11:01:42

    […] Speaking of Kobobooks, it has a new desktop application out and to celebrate there is a $2.00 off coupon. Simply type “twodollars” in the checkout section. It’s great to use for the Harlequin books because those are under $3.00 in the first place. H/t Brian. […]

  23. Lynn S.
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 11:24:41

    @Brian: This comment is meant to address an issue I had with Sony’s software interface and goes out to Kaetrin and Ridley also as they mentioned owning Sony readers. I have the feeling from the nature of your comments that you probably already are aware of this but wanted to share as it was very helpful regarding my problem with Sony’s software. I use calibre when transferring books to my reader but every time I hooked up the reader to my computer the Sony reader library would automatically launch and then usually proceed to be nonresponsive, often fail to recognize my reader, and on occasion cause the entire system to freeze up.

    I researched the issue and tried various suggestions before I found the following post from BeccaAnn at the Mobilereads forum. “To stop Sony library from automatically opening when your Reader is connected, you need to go to start. Type msconfig in the search box (space at the bottom). When the dialog opens up, click on startup. Scroll till you find Reader Library and uncheck it. Hit apply and you are done. The Sony library will no longer startup automatically when the Reader is connected.”

    Her directions worked like a charm, Sony’s software no longer launches automatically and I can immediately use the much preferred calibre.

  24. Kaetrin
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 17:27:07

    @Lynn S. Actually, I never installed the Sony software (thx Jane!) – I used Calibre right from the start (although I’m sure your advice will be helpful to those who did). :)

  25. Statch
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 18:17:12

    @Brian, I only tried a few of the Harlequin Medicals I got from Kobo but the formatting seemed fine. I bought one Amy Andrews title (Found: A Father For Her Child) and it looks fine at first glance. (I also picked up a number by Marion Lennox — I’m really loving both her medicals and non-medicals.)

    Kind of interesting…on a whim, I just tried using the coupon again (for a Carol Marinelli Harlequin Medical) and it worked. This is Monday evening so it shouldn’t have worked today. Guess they haven’t turned it off yet.

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