You’re waiting for your turn at the doctor’s office, and you’re bored. So you pull out your cell phone, look through your library, pick a title and start reading.
In years past, this would have seemed like a scene from a science fiction movie, but today, not only are many books released both in print and e-book format, but the number of devices which support them just keeps growing.
E-books can be read on any computer with the right software. Devices such as cell phones and PDAs can also be used if mobile versions of the software can be loaded (this usually requires the Windows Mobile or Palm operating system on the unit). E-books come in several different formats—be sure the e-book and your software are compatible before downloading or purchasing. Loading more than one does not cause any problems, but make sure you read the system requirements to check for compatibility before installing. Some software even has a text-to-speech add-in that allows the device to read your books aloud!
Types of E-Books: MultiFormat and Secure
When you purchase a MultiFormat book, you can download it in as many formats as you like because they are not encrypted. If you switch to a different device in the future which requires a different format, you can download that format as well.
Secure e-books are encrypted so they can only be read on devices owned by the purchaser. They can typically be downloaded in only one format. To use a secure e-book, you must register your device and receive a personal identification number (PID) which identifies that device. It varies among the different types of software, but you are usually allowed to put the same PID on a limited number of devices so you can read the same book on your computer and your PDA, for example.
The four main choices for e-book software are:
- Mobipocket (recommended)—one of the most common formats available which supports a wide variety of devices, including Windows, Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian, Franklin, iLiad and more. mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/ProductDetailsReader.asp
- Microsoft Reader—works on Windows PC, Pocket PC and Tablet PC. microsoft.com/reader/default.mspx
- Adobe Reader—works on Windows PC, Macintosh or Palm. There is a version that will run on other handhelds, but it does not support secure e-books. adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
- eReader—Works on Windows, Macintosh, Palm and Windows Mobile. ebooks.palm.com/product/browse/software
There are many sites from which you can get e-books, either by purchasing or for free. Here are a few:
- fictionwise.com—e-books for free and for sale.
- baen.com/library—free books, but another part of their site has e-books for sale.
- gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page—Project Gutenberg has a huge library of free e-books whose copyrights have expired in the U.S.
- ebooks.com—free and for-sale books.
Happy reading! TPW