Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

I Received an Ebook Reader, now what?

Group device photo

With over 3 million Kindles sold along with 100 iOS devicees sold a minute, it is likely that many readers received digital reading devices this Christmas.  The following is what you might need to know in order to use your device.

1.  Are prices the same for digital books?

Generally speaking the price of books are equal to their paper equivalent or less. If you buy new most of the time, you should not see an increase in your book spending.  There is no seccondary market (like a used bookstore) that you can buy digital books or sell books that you are no longer interested in.

There are many free books offered on a regular basis at the digital bookstores.  Don’t forget to use the “Sample” button to check out a portion of the book (about 10%) before you purchase.   If you have a NookColor or Nook Tablet, you can read in the store nearly any of their books for free for one hour a day. It’s called their “Read in Store” program.

Both BN and Kindle offer daily deals.  Barnes & Noble’s is called Nook Daily Find and Amazon’s is the Daily Deal.  Amazon almost always price matches the Nook Daily Find but it usually takes a half a day or so.  The price of these daily deals is usually about 60-80% off the retail price and the selection varies from non fiction to fiction to genre reads.

2.  Where do I find books I want to read?

Onlike bookstores have sections just like real bookstores.  If you are buying digital books, you’ll want to go to the Nook books section and at Amazon, the “Kindle” section.  The “Books” section for both sites refer to paper books.  There are several sub sections such as romance or mystery or science fiction/fantasy.

Nook Book Menu

On many devices, you can shop directly from the device itself.  Doing this can prevent you from accidentally purchasing a paper book.  You can sign up for newsletters from the retailers that will send you suggestions based on your purchases.  On the Nook, suggestions scroll across the bottom of your device.

3.  How do I check out digital books from the library?

Not every publisher participates in digital lending.  Currently the list of publishers NOT participating in digital lending include new releases from Penguin (Nora Roberts, JD Robb, JR Ward); Hachette (Larissa Ione, Jill Shalvis); Simon & Schuster (Kresley Cole, Steve Jobs biography); Macmillan (Sherrilyn Kenyon, Janet Evanovich).

Digital lending is sourced by a company called Overdrive.*  You can check books out for about three weeks.  Many of the digital books have long wait lists.  Check with your local library to see if you are eligible for digital lending or look into digital lending at the Philadelphia Free Library which is available to out of state residents for $35 per year.

*If you live in Kansas, your state is moving from Overdrive to a 3M sourced digital book system and that book system is not yet up and running. Until it is, you do not have digital lending available.

More about digital lending from libraries here.

4.   Can I shop around?

It depends. If you received a Nook, you can shop at most etailers as the nook accepts “epub” format. However, Nook books cannot be viewed through anything but a nook device or a nook app.  Read more here.

Amazon reads only mobi formats. I have a longer post on this subject here.   The good news is that Amazon, generally, has the best prices and the greatest selection; but nook, Sony, Kobo readers give a shopper the most retail freedom.

Here is an article about who has the best ebook prices.

If you have the iPad, you have the best of all worlds as there are Kobo, Kindle, nook apps for the iThings. For reading ePubs, you can use the Kobo, Bluefire App, or MegaReader, and a few notes about iPad ebook Apps.

The reason for these complications is a thing called DRM or digital rights management.  DRM is a software that makes sure you can’t freely share your digital books with others.  Publishers and authors are afraid that without DRM, piracy (or the illegal sharing of books) will overtake legitimate sales.  DRM is used to lock a digital book to a particular device or account.  This prevents free transferability of books and thus books you buy at one store like Amazon can’t be used on a device like the Nook and vice versa.  Some ebookstores like AllRomanceEbooks and Fictionwise specialize in selling books without DRM.

For the Kindle Fire, you can install a great app called Mantano Reader which will allow you to read ePubs.  Read more here.

5. How do I get my books on my Kindle or nook or iOS device?

If you don’t buy directly on the device or have a “send to” device feature, you are going to have to manually add the books. This is called sideloading. When you connect your Kindle/nook to the computer via a USB, the Kindle/nook should show up as an external harddrive:

Just drag over your books.   On the Kindle, put them in the documents folder:

Kindle docs screenshot

More on sideloading of Kindle books here.   Always remember to download the MOBI format for your Kindle.   Kindle also allows you to email yourself books. To email yourself books, you must enter the sender’s email address under Your Account->Manage Your Kindle, enter the emails under “Your Kindle Approve E-mail list.”   This is to prevent spammers from sending you unwanted documents.

TIP:   If you send documents to, there is no charge.  Read more about Personal Document Service here.

On the nook, put the books in the My files folder. I usually put them in “books”:

Nook files

More on sideloading nookbooks here.   Download the ePub versions of ebooks.   On the Nook Color or Nook Tablet, you can also load books via email or from a website.

Sideloading works for iPad and iPhones as well. Directions for sideloading books onto iOS devices.

6. Can I lend my books or share them?

Publishers are allowing limited sharing or lending of books.   The sharing or lending of books is limited.   First, you can only lend a book once.   Second, the lending period is only for 14 days.   Third, the person to whom you lend the book can only read the book by using the same software as you: Kindle, nook, Kobo, etc.

Another way to share books is to share the same account.   Nooks and Kindles can be hooked up to the same account although there are some drawbacks.   More on sharing here and here.

Kindle also offers the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  If you own a Kindle device (not just an app you downloaded onto an Android or IOS device) and are a Prime Member, you can access the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  You can borrow one book a month at no extra charge.

7.  Where can I find the free classics?

Many people want to fill up their devices with free books much like they filled up their iPods.   The classics such as plays by Shakespeare, books by Jane Austen, and book club picks like Dickens can be downloaded for free at places like Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, and manybooks.

Retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo also give away promotional freebies.   This is a link to the Amazon Kindle promotional freebies.   Promotional freebies generally are time sensitive so download them while you can.

Dear Author posts the monthly specials that they know of but there are three good sources for the publisher promotions:   MobileReads “Deals, Freebies, and Resources” forum; Books on the Knob blog; Kindle Besteller list (broken into free and paid).  You can always come back to Dear Author. We post daily deals about 5 days a week.

8.  How do I keep track of everything?

Digital books can be difficult to keep track of, particularly if you shop at more than one digital book store. I really love a free program called Calibre.  In it’s most simplistic use, Calibre is intended to be an ebook organization tool. You can organize your books by author, title, series, publisher, personal tags, and personal ratings and any other custom field you may think of.  Take a look at a few of my Calibre posts here and here if you are interested in a great and free organizational too.  Part 1 and Part 2.

Finally, don’t be shy about asking questions.  We readers are here to help one another out.

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. Nadia Lee
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 05:34:54

    Nook currently supports this and Amazon has announced that it will implement this feature in the future.

    Actually you can lend books to other people on Amazon. It’s just as limited as Nook lending: only one time, 14 days only. I’ve lend books before, and I’m actually reading a book somebody let me borrow using this feature.

  2. statch
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 08:18:18

    Jane, just wanted to say thank you so much for all the informative and helpful blogs on ebook reading and the ebook industry. I know it must take a lot of time, and it’s very much appreciated. I find myself so often referring back to things you’ve written.

    I always look forward to reading Dear Author!

  3. Jane
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 08:31:09

    @statch Thanks. If there is ever a topic that you want addressed, let me know. I’m always floundering for things to write about.

  4. Ducky
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 10:17:32

    Jane, I want to say thank you for all the helpful technical info this blog provides on a regular basis. I was a total ebook virgin only last year and learning from dearauthor about the Calibre program etc. has been invaluable.

  5. Sunita
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 10:31:39

    I have the Calibre OPDS post bookmarked. Putting Calibre in Dropbox changed my reading life. Well worth the $10/month.

    Fictionwise has a 55% sale this weekend (code 122311) and All Romance eBooks has a 50% rebate today and tomorrow.

  6. erinf1
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 10:40:21

    Happy Holidays everyone! This is an awesome informative post! This is where I come to get more info which I can actually understand. Thanks to Jane I ‘m finally able to use my kindle and actually know what I ‘m doing. Thanks again :) this is why I visit daily… that and the awesome reviews and sale posts.

  7. Annette
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 11:32:19

    My husband got my 9 year old a Kindle Fire for Christmas. We’re already referring to your posts this morning. I’m utterly clueless about e-readers, and I’m very grateful for the time you’ve taken to post all of this info. Merry Christmas!

  8. library addict
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 16:09:42

    Mobile Read also has a lot of public domain books formatted for the various devices.

    Harlequin has a $4 off coupon code SPEND4E11 valid until 1-31-12. It’s reusable (man I could have saved some major books over the 50% sale earlier this year when I stocked up on Treasury titles. Oh well.)

  9. Jill Myles
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 17:29:44

    My mom actually got a kindle for Christmas and I was going to lend her some of my books, but I have 600+ in my library. Is there an easy way to see a list of what’s lendable other than going to ‘manage’ and clicking through all of them?

  10. Miki S
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 03:07:56

    Generally speaking the price of books are equal to their paper equivalent or less. If you buy new most of the time, you should not see an increase in your book spending.

    This is only true if you buy print books new with no discounting. If you’re used to getting your mass-market paperbacks at 20-25% off from the discount store, that possibility will only be true for certain publishers. Most of the largest ones lock in the ebook prices to cover price.

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  12. Mary G
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 09:20:31

    “Generally speaking the price of books are equal to their paper equivalent or less.” That’s been my experience for the most part but the exceptions are doozies. Here’s the price for Canadians for Night After Night by Janelle Denison.
    Kindle Edition — $10.34 —
    Mass Market Paperback $7.99

    If they were the same price I wouldn’t mind so much, loving the convenience of an ebook. In this case, by Macmillan & others by Penguin, I won’t buy it. Thanks, as always, for the great info you provide.

  13. Jane
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 10:55:03

    @Jill Myles Unfortunately I do not know of any way to determine what title is lendable other than going through them one by one.

  14. Man of la Book
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 12:05:09

    About the free classics, I wasn’t impressed with the quality (scanned PDFs, etc.) and happily paid the $0.99 for a well formatted eBook.

  15. Jill Myles
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:03:57

    @Jane: That’s frustrating! But it’s what I ended up doing anyhow. I’d love to be able to have more sort options.

  16. Miki S
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 15:21:08

    You mention sources for classics and you also mention that there’s a forum on Mobileread that lists ebook deals, but your readers might also want to know that there are Mobileread regulars who take the time to proofread (against printed versions) and reformat some of the classics into beautiful editions. They’re available under the Ebooks link on the Mobileread main page.

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  18. J Q Rose
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 12:45:16

    Jane, thanks for summarizing so much e-reader/e-book info here. I am presenting a talk on e-books for a local library club. You can believe much of your information will be in it! You made my prep a lot easier.

  19. Jane
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 12:49:10

    @J Q Rose: Please feel free to print out and use whatever you need and email me (jane at if you have any questions.

  20. J Q Rose
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 15:57:39

    Thank you, Jane. You are a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about this e-book technology. I am enjoying your posts.

  21. Diane
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 05:23:00

    Awesome info, thanks very much, Jane.

    In theory, ebooks should be cheaper than paper books, right? I mean, authors don’t have to sign contracts with big publishers anymore, so they basically get the full profit (assuming they sell them through their own website/own marketing etc)

    But that’s not what’s important here :) With my KoboVox, I can download my fav books (from all you can books, it’s pretty awesome) and can lug around tons of ebooks, without having to pack an extra bag of books when I go on trips.

    I have to try Calibre now, thanks to you.

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