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eBook Reader Help Desk Day

Today I am hosting an ebook reader help desk day. Throughout the day, I’ll answer, to the best of my ability, any digital book related question whether it involves setting up the cloud, converting ebooks, working with Calibre, and the like.

Ask anything. If I can’t answer it, I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

Please include your computer OS (Mac or PC), your device (if any), any software you are using, and the source of your problem.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

42 Comments

  1. Nadia Lee
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 07:29:42

    Ooo I have one. It’s been driving me nuts in the past few weeks.

    Since I got my Kindle (wifi / no keyboard), I converted a bunch of epub files to mobi to side load. I used Calibre for it, FYI. (Windows XP)

    After I loaded all my ebooks to Kindle, I noticed that metadata such as titles and author names were messed up. Some show up as “null” or something like “Silver235123512″ for the author and/or title.

    I fixed them all using Calibre and side loaded them to Kindle, using the cable that came with it. But the titles & authors have not been corrected.

    Do you know how I can fix this problem? Thanks!

  2. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 07:31:16

    I’m a little confused by the Kindle 8/HTML5 announcements. Does that mean the Kindle will support ePub soon, or is it just about “enhancing” Kindle ebooks with illustrations/tables/etc for the Fire?

  3. Susan Helene Gottfried
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 07:58:03

    Jane: I bought a Nook and am trying to sideload all my Smashwords books onto it. Adobe Digital Editions is giving me fits; it sees the Nook, but I can’t figure out how to get a book that’s been downloaded into reading view saved onto it. There seems to be no option to save from Reading view and if I move into Library view, the book vanishes and I have to redownload!

  4. Becca
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:01:20

    For Calibre problems, your best bet is the MobileReads Calibre forum.

    http://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=166

    The answer may get fairly technical, though.

  5. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:33:20

    @Nadia Lee If you fixed the metadata after you converted and not before, the updated metadata isn’t embedded in the book file. You will have to re convert to embed the changes to the metadata.

  6. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:35:13

    @Shannon Stacey No, I don’t think that Kindle will be supporting epub soon. at best, Amazon might allow you to send an epub which it would then convert, but I doubt it will ever support epub natively. I believe the move to Kindle 8, html5 based, is a move to support a more robust ebook but also to streamline its content. The Kindle Cloud Reader, for example, is an html5 app.

  7. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 08:42:34

    @Susan Helene Gottfried I would avoid using ADE as much as possible. If you are downloading Smashwords books and sideloading those, you don’t need ADE at all. Simply attach your nook via a USB and then using Windows Explorer, browse to the nook’s document folder. (I’ll upload some screenshots later). Copy the sideloaded Smashword books from your downloaded folder to your nook folder. (Highlight, select copy) and then move to the destination folder and select paste)

    If you want to use Smashwords, then the nook should show up in the right hand side of your “Bookselves” listing in the Library view. See pic here. However, that doesn’t always work as I note in the article. Your best bet is to simply copy and paste using the Windows Explorer (or Finder for Mac users)

  8. Sandra
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 09:41:37

    @Jane: @Susan Helene Gottfried: If you have the nook for PC app, you can also load your nook from there. Add the book to the app using the Add New Item button on the My Stuff tab. (I load them into Calibre first, fix any problems, then add from the Calibre folder.)

    Then connect your nook to your computer. A window will open which will allow you to select books in your PC app folder and send them to your nook. I add all my third party books to my nook this way. That way the two stay in sync, though I don’t read from the PC much since I got the nook. I imagine this would probably work with the nook mobile apps as well.

    Because I have the PC app set to automatically download new purchases from B&N when I open it, I always have all my B&N books on my hard drive. In Windows 7, the files are saved in My Documents in My B&N ebooks folder. There’s a sub-folder titled with my B&N account name that contains all B&N purchased books, and all books sideloaded into the app are in the main folder. It makes it easy to keep my books backed up, because everything’s in one place.

  9. erinf1
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 09:44:12

    For the kindle:
    Question 1: is there anyway to organize the books into collections (such as you can do directly on the Kindle) for the kindle library that you can access online through Amazon? I have about 1700 books and it’d be easier to manage if I can categorize them. However ,I can’t seem to figure it out and the kindle library defaults to by author or by title view and with this many books it’s hard to manage. Also, do you know if the Kindle Fire will retain the collections like the regular Kindle or will we have to recreate them when downloading books?

    Question 2: Whenever Amazon sends me an updated/revised version of an e-book I have, it hangs out on my main screen and will not default back into the collection I’ve assigned. I’ve had to reset my kindle in order to get rid of them and half the time, that doesn’t work. And since I have so many books on my kindle, it takes forever to reload.

  10. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 09:50:47

    @Sandra Calibre is a great way to send books to your device. If your device is hooked up via USB, it should be recognized by Calibre. Use the “Send to Device” button (image here) and if you have an SD card in your nook, you can route the book to the SD card using the dropdown menu under the Send to Device button (image here)

  11. Nadia Lee
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 09:55:20

    @Jane: Ohhh! Thanks! Will try that and report back! :)

  12. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 09:58:24

    @erinf1

    Q1, Kindle Collections: Unfortunately collections is a huge problem with the existing Kindle devices. You can’t access them online through Amazon but you can create collections on your harddrive using the Kindle for PC/Kindle for Mac Software. I’ve done a short tutorial here. Once the collection is created on your harddrive, you can then import those collections onto your device. However, the books must be downloaded to your device in order for them to show up in your collections.

    My understanding is that collections will be part of the whispersync in the future such that collections, like personal documents, will be synched across all platforms, but that is not a feature that has been rolled out yet.

    Q2, Updated Books: Updated books from Amazon are actually treated like a new book file so it needs to be re-assigned to the collection.

    Let me know if I missed something.

  13. Susan Helene Gottfried
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 11:23:12

    @Jane: You are THE BEST. Thank you! I was afraid I’d have to return it and keep reading on my iPod, which I hate doing so much, I actively avoid reading on it.

  14. Becca
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 11:43:14

    @erinf1 – If you use Calibre, there’s a Kindle Collections plugin available over at the Calibre forum at MobileReads that works like a charm.

  15. Janine
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 12:54:51

    I have a question too. I recently uploaded my WIP to my Kindle 3 by using Calibre to convert a Microsoft Word RTF format document to mobi. Then I sent the document to my Kindle through Calibre. But when I read through the document on the Kindle, a paragraph that had been in the RTF document on my computer is now missing. Is there anything that can be done about that?

  16. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:01:45

    @Janine: My guess is you have wonky formatting in your Word / RTF document. Go to the paragraph in your RTF that is missing in the Mobi and highlight it and select “normal” as the formatting. Try again.

  17. romsfuulynn
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:10:49

    I have a Nook 1st edition 3G. I have ongoing problems if I try to sideload any significant number of books. It just hangs. I can usually get somewhere up to 200 on.

    I’ve tried with the original .pdb books I bought from Fictionwise. It will recognize them and deal with them in the DRM form but again it hangs.

    I’ve tried stripping the DRM and converting to EPUB. Still hangs.

    It also will show stuff that is no longer there.

    B&N can’t seem to wrap its mind around the fact that I’d like to load 1500 or 2000 books – I’ve got the room on SD card.

  18. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:16:33

    Thanks for the answer on HTML5.

    I just thought of another question. I just saw a tweet about Robyn Carr’s new Virgin River holiday story and pulled up Calibre to see how far behind I am in that series. I have like 6 of the books in there, but they’re PDB format. I think I must have gotten them from FW during a sale. With Stanza dead, how would I get those onto my iPhone? Is there an app that accesses a FW bookshelf?

  19. Geert
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:19:35

    @romsfuulynn: Sounds like one of the files you sideload is corrupt. If there is a corrupt file in the My Document folder the N1E cannot index that folder correctly.

  20. Marina Smith
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:20:05

    I have a big problem with Adobe Digital Editions.

    On the recommendation of the Adobe help(less) desk, I upgraded their program to allow access to my e-books on more than one machine. Mistake, big, big mistake. Now it does not recognize my desktop version of the program and newly purchased books won’t open on my e-reader, either. I made 3 attempts to get the Adobe help(less) desk to fix this mess with no joy.

    Then I tried to use Calibre to strip the DRM after the fact, but as I understand it, you have to be able to open your books in Adobe Digital Editions first to make the magic work. So, again, no joy.

    I’m using a Mac with OS X 10.6.8. and a first generation iPod Touch as a reader.

    Can you think of any work around or am I totally out of luck?

  21. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:35:19

    @Marina Smith My guess is that you have created a new authorization sign in name. If you can open ebooks on one of your machines, then go to Adobe Digital Editions on that machine and in “library view” select “library” and then “Authorize Computer”. That should bring up a screen that says “This computer has been authorized to” and then it will list your Adobe ID. That is the Adobe ID you should use in each one of your ADE installations.

    If you do not have a machine that reads any of your ADE books and you aren’t sure what your Adobe IDs are, you may need to contact Adobe here. One of the problems is that books downloaded under an old and forgotten Adobe ID are not recoverable. You will need to redownload those.

    Let me know if that helps or you need further assistance.

  22. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:41:17

    @Shannon Stacey If you still have the ereader app on your Ithing, it works under iOS5 but you can’t access the app in the App store. It has been pulled. Otherwise, I would do a mass download and import those books into Calibre and convert.

  23. Karen
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 14:33:30

    I have a Mac, a Kindle 3 and Calibre. The one thing I miss the most about paper books is being able to browse through my collection and read the “back cover” information. I haven’t found a good way to do this on the Kindle – the “Book Description” link just takes you to Amazon (which requires an internet connection) and the information there is often missing or incorrect. I have ended up making my own database of covers and book descriptions (on my Mac) – so I can browse, but I feel like there must be a better way. I know this is a feature that has been requested on Kindle, but am I missing something? If I had a Fire or iThing, would this be easier?

  24. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 14:45:03

    @Jane: I had deleted the eReader app because it sucked. But I found out the handy-dandy Adobe DRM gadget also works for PBD. Not quite as slick, but it worked well enough to get it into ePub and onto my iPhone. Thanks!

  25. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 14:45:22

    @Karen: I don’t know of any good way to get a book description on the Kindle devices or the apps.

  26. Janine
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 14:58:49

    @Jane: Thanks! It took me forever to figure out how the formatting was different in that section and how to change it to match the rest of the document, but I did and now I can read it on the Kindle.

  27. erinf1
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 15:12:29

    Thanks Jane and Becca!

    I do have Calibre and I just need to buckle down and explore it more to learn how to use it. I know it’s not hard, I’m just not as tech savvy as all ya’ll cuz some of this reads like greek to me :)

    The reason I was so stuck on the Collections is that my Kindle froze up and I got a replacement one and had to re-download all of my books and since the collections didnt come too, I had to remake those and reassign, which took *forever*. Then whenever I have to reset, sometimes the collections don’t come across. I’ve tried unregisteribg, re-registering. The whole 9 yards. Just gave in and did it all over again.

    Also, the revised editions – I have reassigned them to my collections and they are still on my main screen. It’s like there’s a glitch and the Kindle doesn’t recognize that they are assigned.

    Siiiiigh. I’m really, really thinking of upgrading to Kindle Fire and selling back the Kindle 3. Seems like it would be easier to use. But I’m a little leery of all the other functions and how they impact the actual e-reader part. That would be the main function for me. I really like the Kindle, it’s just that sometimes troubleshooting is hard to do when you aren’t tech savvy. I troll the Kindle forums all the time on Amazon and get answers about 50% of the time.

  28. MaryK
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 15:29:14

    @erinf1: Keep in mind Kindle Fire is a regular screen not an e-ink screen.

  29. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 15:34:03

    @erinf1: It is hard to know how collections will work with the Fire. Currently there are no collections on the Kindle apps even though the touchscreen devices, like the Kindle Fire, would allow easier maneuverability of files.

    Right now your best bet is either using the Kindle for PC/Mac or the Kindle plugin. Perhaps that is a “how to” I could write for next week.

  30. erinf1
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 16:31:58

    Thanks so much! I appreciate you guys letting me moan and groan :)

    Overall, I have to say I do like the Kindle so much more than I thought I would. But just like any tech, it’s wonderful while it works and terrible when it doesn’t. Have a fantastic day!

  31. Kerry D.
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 18:13:51

    @Karen: That annoys me greatly too.

    What I’ve done is to put the backcover blurb (pulled from Goodreads or somewhere similar) into the Comments field in Calibre and add the cover I want in Calibre.

    Then when you run the conversion, on the Structure Detection page, there’s a tick box labelled “Insert Metadata as page at start of book”. I transfer the converted book to my Kindle and it has the metadata, including the cover and blurb at the front of the book.

    Of course, for Kindle books themselves, if I do this I lose the syncing ability etc, so I’m stuck with using the Amazon Book Description link for those. But it works for the books I buy elsewhere and convert and that’s the majority of my library.

    I hope I’ve explained that clearly. If I haven’t, ask me to clarify.

  32. Becca
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 18:50:58

    @Janine (#15) – save the Word document as filtered web rather than RTF. You get a better result that way.

  33. RachelT
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 20:13:15

    @Kerry D.: And @Karen:

    Unless I am misunderstanding what you are looking for, the blurb can be incorporated into Calibre in the metadata. In edit metadata individually the metadata can be downloaded automatically, or any notes you want can be cut and pasted into the comments area of the metadata page. Covers are downloaded here too. If you convert your book prior to uploading to your device, even if it is already in the format you want (eg convert epub to epub) the book on the device should incorporate the blurb. In Calibre you can see both blurb and cover each time you highlight abook title in your library.

  34. Jane
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 20:15:29

    @RachelT: But the blurb isn’t data that can be easily read on the Kindle device. It’s not like the Kobo where the book description can be accessed with a tap at the top of the screen.

    The Kindle Book Description link takes you to the Kindle store and relies on the information at the Amazon site and is accessible only when you are hooked to the internet if you have wifi Kindle.

  35. JessW
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 22:04:04

    Thanks for all the great info, everyone.
    The ebook reader help desk day was a good idea, Jane.
    My question re: my previously purchased FW books (now in ereader, not MSReader) was answered. i didn’t know the actual format name on the Calibre website when I looked earlier.
    Currently reading ipad apps Kindle and Kobo.
    My ebookwise is gathering dust.

  36. Evelyn
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 03:19:02

    Sorry I’m late, but there is still one question (maybe you can answer it the next time). I’m reading my ebooks on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet, but it’s only possible to read certain formats, like pdf or epub. I already tried different apps for reading DRM-protected books, like txtr or Aldiko Premium, but even with having the Adobe ID there is no possibility to read them. Maybe you have a solution.

    Thanks and greetings from Germany

  37. Brian
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 09:35:52

    @Evelyn: IMO the best apps for reading DRM’d ePub & PDF’s on Android would be Mantano and Aldiko. Make sure the Adobe ID you use for Adobe Digital Editions on your computer is the same ID you use for your reading app on the Galaxy. Is it DRM’d ePub’s or PDF’s you’re trying to read or some other format like Mobi or eReader? Do you get error messages when trying to open a DRM’d book?

    There are a few ways to add DRM’d ePub/PDF to Aldiko. If your Aldiko has your Adobe ID registered it should show up in ADE (either with a device name or with the name Aldiko Premium) when your tablet is connected as a mass storage device via USB. You can then drag the books you want onto your device through ADE.

    You can also copy the book to the Digital Editions folder on your device and Aldiko should find it.

    You can copy the .acsm file provided by the retailer/library you got the book from and use a file manager to open the file. It should download directly into Aldiko.

  38. Janine
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:55:08

    @Becca: Thanks, I will try that in the future.

  39. Lada
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 11:22:16

    Awwww…I’m so sorry I missed this!! I hope you do something like this again in the future, Jane!! Thanks for taking the time and continuing to keep us updated on the latest and greatest.

  40. Evelyn
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 03:14:45

    @Brian: thanks for the help, I’ll try your suggestions.

  41. MaryK
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 15:34:27

    @Kerry D.: I tried the “Insert Metadata as page at start of book” option and it worked great on the book I tried it with.

    I have a Sony 505 so syncing with Amazon isn’t an issue.

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