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.
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:
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 @free.kindle.com, 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”:
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.
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.