Call me “old school” and you would be right. After all, I was born in the 1960s and grew up to love books and indeed I was and am surrounded by hard copy physical books.
While I prefer tangible physical books to read, for many reasons, I realise that as someone who offers a free service to read and review published books, who lives in Australia, that not everyone can mail me a hard copy of their book (but if such people could send me a hard copy book, autographed if possible, in return for an honest review, I would be delighted).
E-readers require batteries and lighting conditions to read, but physical books don’t require battery power. I could (and have) read small books while in the bath-tub, but would never clutch my Kindle or other e-reader while sitting among the bubble bath.
This year I have entered into the world of Kindle books and Amazon. I wondered why there are so many digital books in the Kindle format, and found the answer is that Amazon is the largest online seller of digital books and the format for their digital cum electronic books is the Kindle format (or technically the AZW file format). Anyone who can write can publish a Kindle book and try to sell it on Amazon.
One can read Kindle books and PDF books on a Kindle Reader.
I confess that I prefer to buy my books from sources other than Amazon, so when I want a book I will go to the online Book Depository or Wordery or to an online Australian distributor such as Angus & Robertson. 99 percent of my book holdings are not e-books or audio books.
AUDIO BOOKS (AUDIOBOOKS) / CD AUDIOS
One day recently I nearly got caught out searching for “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe, on Book Depository. I thought that an e-book may be a viable cheaper alternative to a physical book (being stretched for money at the time) and to my surprise, found a paperback available and three different audio CD formats / versions of the book.
A friend had told me that the audio CD recording of the book i.e. a recording of a person (in this case the author) reading the book out loud, was really worthwhile, so I considered buying an audio book, especially as the paperback version cost $22 and the audio book was cheaper.
Warning: when the product states CD it should mean a physical compact disc. If the product you are buying is purely a digital item that you download, it should be sold as a an audiobook (or audio book) or as an ebook (or e-book) or a proprietary digital e-book, such as a Kindle e-book.
I almost bought the cheaper $11 CD audio book, but good sense told me to investigate my options further. I found that the $11 book is an MP3 CD consisting of mp3 files on a CD and this seemed fine to me as I have used an mp3 player for years when I was younger, and the quality was fine.
However, I went ahead and clicked on the listing for the $28 audio book and noted the format as CD Audio. Quora explains here what the differences are between an MP3 CD and a CD Audio (or Audio CD), mainly that a CD Audio usually uses the .wma or .aac file format (or for smaller audio books, uses the “lossless” .wav files), and this means it may be of better quality than an mp3 CD.
It annoys me that the CD Audio Books listed on Book Depository do not have information about the duration of the books. I could cross-reference with Audio Books offered for sale on other sites, I know, but still I wish that BD listed the audio duration.
Of course for both of these CD books, one will need a CD Player. An mp3 CD Audio book can be transferred to iTunes or to an mp3 player, as long as it is not DRM protected. If you have an ipod or an ipad, you can try to use iTunes to “rip” (transfer) your audio book to your ipod or ipad, although the “how to” takes a bit of “nous” as the page below instructs. I think that the following steps also apply to a Windows PC.
At the time of writing this post, I am still “dithering” (procrastinating) about whether to buy the CD Audio or the MP3 CD or the paperback version of “Dark Emu.” There’s even another CD Audio of this title listed on Book Depository for $27.36 AUD at the time of writing this post, and the difference between it and the $23.49 CD Audio is that the $27 CD Audio was made for the ABC Company and is slightly larger and heavier than the $23.49 CD Audio. (The same ABC branded product costs $38 if purchased from the Audible company.)
You can also search for e-books and audio-books in the iTunes Store and pay for them. The audio books will only be able to be listened to using iTunes or an ipad or ipod touch or iphone, via iBooks, which is an Apple programme for Apple e-books and audio books. You will need iBooks to read e-books bought from the Apple iTunes Store.
You can register with Audible, an Amazon company, for access to Audible Audio books. The Audible file formats can be read on many devices and on a desktop computer – see here for information.
You can import an Audible Audio Book to your iTunes library or Windows Media Player library or to the Audible Manger library, and can “burn” an Audible audio book to a CD.
A quick comparison shows that Audio books from Audible can cost more than the same audio books cost bought from other sources, however the fact that you can easily transfer it to iTunes and can play it using Windows Media Player, and “burn” or “rip” it to a CD may make up for this.
So many choices! It can be bewildering to the lay-person.
PDF AND PROTECTING PDF BOOKS
I am a fan of the PDF (Portable Document Format) file format. It preserves the formatting of text documents into a document that cannot be over-written or altered. PDF documents are read using Adobe Acrobat’s PDF Reader, which is free software that you can download here if you don’t have it.
The trouble with having books in the PDF format is that if the author wants to sell the books, there is nothing to stop an unscrupulous person from distributing a PDF format book FREE to all and sundry, and those sundry and all can read the book using the free PDF Reader programme.
There are controls to try to lessen this from happening, for PDF documents. For example, having written and done so much for others through my writing, I decided that I would sell my 77 page WordPress Guidelines in PDF format for the princely sum of only $4.00 AUD. I also have to pay a fee to my payment processor for making this document available.
I am selling my PDF format WordPress Guidelines through Payhip, a trusted UK payment processor that uses Stripe, also a trusted processor (as you can find out for yourself, if you research them).
Payhip lets me stamp the purchaser’s email address in tiny letters at the top left of each page of my PDF book. Also I myself set up a copyright notice and my name in the Footer of every page of my document when it was “born” as a Word document, before converting it to a PDF document. These measures will hopefully deter someone from giving away my Guidelines for free.
Payhip allows instant download of a digital product, and payment by your customers can be by PayPal or by Debit Card or Credit Card if your Payhip account is connected to Stripe.
It is free and easy to set up Payhip processing and you need Stripe to make paying by card an option for your customers, otherwise they have to pay by PayPal.
When I looked at using Stripe I was put off by a huge amount of “technical speak” on their website, which gave me a fright, but fortunately I found that Payhip guided me through the process of connecting with Stripe, and it was easy. Of course Payhip will take a small commission for products that you sell.
You can set the purchase price of your digital product as zero. The “purchaser” or person downloading your product will see a message stating “this item is free” and a green button “Download Now.” Your customer clicks on the green button and is taken to a Checkout screen where she / he then types in an email address and clicks on a blue button “Download Now“.
This will result in a Download link, which when clicked on will enable the recipient to save the document to her / his computer immediately. The recipient will also receive an email with a Download link. You will receive an email telling you the document has been downloaded.
It is an option therefore to use Payhip (with or without connecting to Stripe) to stamp your PDF with the recipient’s email address, which is an automated process.
If you were to manually type in a recipient’s email address into the header of your book, you would have to type it into a Word document and convert it to PDF (unless you have the advanced version of Adobe Acrobat Writer so you can directly type into the header ) PLUS importantly, of course, you would need to know the recipient’s Email Address.
Payhip takes this work out of your hands and automates the process for you. My research shows that an author can sell e-books using both Payhip and Amazon. In other words an author is not excluded from selling on Amazon if she uses Payhip, and vice versa. Payhip could be used by a writer to distribute review copies of her / his book in PDF format.
Using DRM (which will be explained later) is also an option to use to protect PDF documents from being printed or copied or passed on for free. The page below looks at this.
Did you know that besides the proprietary AZW file format for Kindle e-books, there are other file formats, such as ePUB and MOBI ?? ePUB is used for books / files that are read on Sony e-readers and many other e-readers. The Kindle e-reader (which runs on a Linux based Operating System) can read AZW, MOBI and PRC file formats, but not ePUB files. The Kindle Reader can read Word documents and PDFs but in limited ways.
Other e-readers are:
Nook (for Android Operating Systems, supports PagePerfect Nook Book files, ePub files, CBZ files and PDF files, and Kindle books that have been converted to an ePUB format, this E-reader is produced by Barnes & Noble, has an app for Android and iOS devices. Supports other file types also.)
Kobo (by Rakuten, this e-reader is water-proof to some degree, and the latest versions are capable of reading ePub, PDF and MOBI files, and Kindle books that have been converted to an ePUB format, has an app for Android and iOS devices, many online book sellers support the Kobo app), and –
Amazon tablets that function as e-readers to read Kindle e-books, e.g. the Amazon “Fire tablet.”
A program like Calibre can convert DRM-free Kindle files to a format the Kobo Reader can read, without issue. The Kobo Reader can read some image formats and text formats also. Click link below for information.
Be careful as there’s DRM or Digital Rights Management encoding which prevents unauthorised redistribution of digital media and restrict the ways consumers can copy content they’ve purchased.
Some e-readers will only let you read digital books which are not locked by DRM coding so check which file formats your Reader will read. To find out if your eBook that you already “own” or have access to or if an eBook that you are thinking about purchasing has DRM, the page below explains the process.
Kindle books, Barnes & Noble Nook e-books, Kobo e-books, sample Adobe Digital Edition e-books and e-books sold by many other companies have DRM encoding so a person can’t print a book or read the book on different machines / devices (or copy the book – for back-up purposes, or to read the book on different machines / devices, or to distribute the book for free).
DRM for Kindle books means you can only read a book on a Kindle reader, or on a device running a Kindle app or programme linked to your Amazon account.
Kobo and Nook ePUB books may be able to be downloaded to other e-Readers using Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). See here for more information. I say “may” because it seems to be quite a convoluted process to do this, and I sometimes can’t make “head or tail” of how to use ADE.
To read an Adobe DRM protected PDF document / book on your computer or mobile device, you will need to register for a free “account” with Adobe Digital Editions (an ebook reader software program) and access the PDF via this “app” (or programme)..
FINDING AN E-BOOK OR AN AUDIO BOOK
You can search for a CD Audio book, or a digital download audio book, or an e-book by going to an online store or a few, of your choice; e.g. to Amazon, or to Nook or Kobo, or Audible; or to a book seller with an online store (such as Angus & Robertson here in Australia).
The Google Playbooks Store has ePub books available to buy. You will need to register with Google, and can read these books on a desk-top or lap-top, but will need the Google Playbooks App to read these books on an Android tablet or Android operating system mobile device.
There are free books available also and you can research reputable sources of free ePub books for yourself, notably the free books will be out-of-print books.
Warning: don’t glibly download anything you like if it is offered as FREE, because not only will you possibly be getting something for free which should be paid for, but you may unwittingly download and install a computer virus.
Some companies let you read e-books or audio books free for a trial period, before deciding whether to go on a paid plan or not, such as Audible, an Amazon company, which has digital audio books to buy and download, and a free 30 day trial.
Rakuten’s Overdrive site provides those living in the U.S.A. and certain other countries an “app” for desktop computers and mobile devices that allows access to free audio books and e-books, provided by participating public libraries. You will need to be registered with one or more participating libraries.
NOTE: you will need Adobe Digital Editions or Calibre (or try using Microsoft Edge or another reputable ePUB reader) to read ePub books on a desk-top PC if you are not using Google Play, for ePUB books saved to your computer (Note that Adobe Digital Editions is DIFFERENT to Adobe Reader.) Links below refer to this.
Online Book stores (that may have started out as “bricks and mortar” physical book stores) will offer a range of e-books in different formats, usually in ePUB format.
REMEMBER: ePUB files cannot be read on a Kindle Reader.
When you read that various e-readers support other e-book file formats besides the file format the Reader was made for, take this with a “grain of salt” because sometimes the DRM protection will make it difficult to do so!
UP IN THE CLOUDS
The bottom lines, I think, are to take your time and look at what Nook, Kobo, Audible, and Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (and other online book sellers that sell e-books and / or audio books), have to offer in terms of e-books (and audio books, if you’re interested in audio books).
Do your research and think very carefully about whether you would like a Nook reader or a Kobo reader or a Kindle reader, or whether you will just opt to access your e-book library on a tablet or a a lap-top or desktop computer, via the relevant “app” as I am doing, to read Kindle books.
The latter is perfectly okay if you don’t plan on reading tons of Kindle books while “on the go” so don’t need a portable reader (i.e. a Kindle Reader).
Amazon provides a way of reading your Kindle books by storing them on the Amazon servers (computers) and letting you access your books from the “Kindle cloud” through your Kindle Cloud Reader.
In essence, the Kindle Cloud Reader is a web-based programme which allocates a portion of storage space in the “clouds” (being a computer server located who knows where) to YOUR purchased books. So unless you read your Kindle book off-line (i.e. while not being connected to the internet) you are accessing your book from “the clouds”. The advantage of having your Kindle books in the clouds is that you don’t have to provide storage space (on your own computer) for your books, plus you can access your Kindle books from a desktop PC or a lap-top or from a mobile device, with an internet connection, by signing into your Kindle Cloud Reader.
You have to be signed into your Amazon account to read your Kindle book in the Kindle Cloud Reader, because Amazon provides the software to look in the clouds for your book and send it to your browser.
This is why when I bought 2 Kindle books from Amazon recently, the instruction was “Deliver this to your Cloud Reader” which is what I just said. You can enable off-line reading, which means essentially your e-book is cached or stored in your browser cache.
A browser is the programme that you use to display web content, e.g. Chrome or Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. A browser cache is a temporary storage location on your computer or can refer to the files downloaded by your browser to display websites.
How do you read your Kindle book off-line? First you have to enable Off-line viewing. Read here for instructions.
Then, copy and paste or type the following into the web address field of your computer. You do NOT have to be connected to the internet. Indeed this method is the one to use if you do not have internet connection for some reason.
Click on the Downloaded “button” and you should be able to access your Kindle book which has been downloaded by Amazon software to your browser’s cache.
Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like the idea of my books which I paid for, floating somewhere in the “clouds” and not saved and tucked away on my own computer!
What if the “clouds” disappear?
Do you own your Kindle book?
Amazon, Nook and Kobo have software or programmes (call the programme for any one of these an “app”, a popularised term for a programme, originally used with respect to application programmes for mobile devices) — which one can download for free to a lap-top or desk-top computer; to read books via the e-reading “app“.
These “apps” are handy because you do NOT need a Kindle Reader or a Nook Reader or a Kobo Reader or an internet connection (after initially buying your e-books), in order to read the associated e-books.
What you do need is an “account” with Amazon or Nook or Kobo, because your purchased e-books are automatically downloaded or retrieved from the “clouds” and “delivered” or downloaded / saved to a folder on your computer.
The Kindle for PC “app” for a computer running on a Windows or Android or iOS or Mac Operating System can be downloaded free, from the following web page.
Useful references on how to work with the Kindle for PC app follow.
Basically, Kindle, Kobo and Nook books can be read by using the relevant free e-Reading apps (i.e. programmes which you have to download and run on your computer) AND / OR the associated e-reader (i.e. a Kindle Reader, Kobo Reader or Nook Reader).
With a physical book, you certainly do own it. If you download a Kindle book to your computer, it is saved as an ASZ file in a folder titled “My Kindle Content” under Documents, by default. You do not own the Kindle e-book file because when you ‘bought’ the e-book, in reality, you just bought the right to view the file. To read your Kindle books, you will need software that can read them, in this case the “Kindle for PC” software / programme for a desktop computer or your Kindle Reader, or the Kindle Cloud Reader.
If a sale rather than a lease from Amazon (or another seller of e-books) occurred, a reader would be entitled to the rights under the first sale doctrine: of resale, trade, loan.
The web pages below are interesting, and explains this.
In shades of the dystopia of “1984” by George Orwell, in 2009 Amazon deleted all copies of the book “1984” from the “clouds”. Amazon said that a company which did not own the rights to 1984 and Animal Farm uploaded scans of these books, got them through Amazon’s vetting process, and sold copies in Amazon’s Kindle store. When Amazon discovered the problem, they reacted by remotely deleting the pirated copies and refunding the money paid. Affected customers were outraged.
slate.com – remote deletion of e-books paves the way for banning
Things are even further confused when some companies, such as Dymocks, claim to have a proprietary e-reader available, but that “e-reader” is really an “app” or a programme, not a physical electronic book reader (or e-reader) which the word “e-reader” conjures up.
Be aware that if you access your e-books from the Kindle “clouds” or from your physical e-Reader (Kindle / Kobo / Nook / other e-reader), or download the e-books from these companies to your computer, that you do not own the books, in terms of exclusive ownership without restrictions; but rather you own the licence or right to access the books.
Happy e-reading and audio-reading !
Once you have purchased your e-books and sent them to your e-reader, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to read them (as they will be cached on your device). See:
You can only listen to Audible audio-books on certain Kindle e-reader types, as explained at the web-page below.