Archive | November 2010

Nook Color – How is it color, exactly?

That’s what I asked myself when I first heart about the new Nook Color. How exactly can it have a color screen while all other ebook readers have black&white screens? Well, it’s not a leap in e-reader technology — it’s a different type of screen altogether.

Nook ColorE-Ink screens are all B&W, and they are all matte instead of glossy. They are made that way on purpose so that they don’t reflect light. That makes them more like reading a book on paper because they can be read by a lamp or even outside in the sun.

The Nook Color’s screen, which they’re calling a “VividView™ Color Touchscreen,” is not E-Ink. It’s a backlit screen, and from what I can tell, it’s pretty much the same type of screen as on the iPad. It even changes from horizontal to vertical like the iPad, and I imagine that you’d use the same kind of flicking/swiping motions on it.

In my opinion, this doesn’t really count as an e-reader. It’s more like a tablet computer. The Nook website says that it can play videos, and I’ve even read that Barnes & Noble is going to be opening it up to third-party software developers.

Now, that’s not to say that a backlit screen is bad, besides the fact that it eats up a ton more battery power, and it’s not to say that videos and third-party apps are bad. I just find it a little unfair for this type of device to be competing against e-readers, since it’s really not the same type of device. However, maybe we’ll see that everyone loves using this type of screen a lot more than E-Ink, and all companies manufacturing e-reader devices will move towards this type of screen. Personally, I like LCD screens much better than E-Ink because they provide much more contrast, and it’s not like I need protection against glare because I don’t do much reading outside in the sun.

It would be silly of me not to throw in some information about the ebook formats that it supports. The tech specs say the Nook Color can use:

  • EPUB (including Non or Adobe DRM)
  • PDF
  • Other documents: XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, TXT, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLX, PPTX
  • Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • Audio: MP3, AAC
  • Video: MP4

That looks just about the same as the other current readers (except the Kindle, of course). One thing jumps out at me, though: the PDF line does not make any mention of Adobe DRM. Does that mean it can’t read PDF files with DRM through Adobe Digital Editions? If so, that’ll cut out a lot of book choices. Perhaps it’s just an oversight, but if not, any users of the Nook Color had better stick to EPUB.

ePub eBooks Overview

People seemed enthusiastic about ePub in a recent post’s comments, so I thought I’d do a post all about ePub. I’ve written this info elsewhere, but ePub really is a great ebook format, so I’d say it’s information that is worth repeating. If you’re wondering how to make an ebook or just getting into e-publishing, ePub is probably a good place to start.

ePub StandardsIDPF

ePub is the current open ebook format that is standardized by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). ePub files come with the .epub file extension and can be read with a variety of different ebook programs and e-reading devices. They are easy to use and create.

The ePub ebook format is goverened by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). They maintain current standards on the format. IDPF is also the organization that standardized the “open ebook” format, which was the precursor to ePub. You can find a complete list of format specifications on their website.

Here are the most important points about the ePub standard format:

  • It’s free and open standard
  • It uses re-flowable text, which means that the text will re-orient itself to match your screen size
  • It supports images
  • It uses CSS
  • It can support DRM, but DRM is not required
  • It makes use of metadata

What does that mean for you, a reader of ebooks? In a nutshell, it means that ePub files are generally easy to work with and can be used on a variety of operating systems and devices.

ePub-compatible eReaders

ePub eReader DeviceseReading devices that can use ePub eBooks include the following:

Acer Lumiread, Android devices, Barnes & Noble Nook, BeBook (all models), Cybook Gen3 and Opus, COOL-ER, Cruz Reader, Ctaindia’s eGriver Ebook Reader, eClicto, eSlick, Hanlin eReader, Hanvon N516, N518, N520, N526, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (using Stanza or iBooks), iRex Digital Reader 800, 1000, iRiver Story, Kobo eReader, Pandigital Novel, Plastic Logic, PocketBook Reader, Sony Reader.

This list is probably not comprehensive, and you should check the tech specs of your particular reading device to verify whether it can use .epub files or not. It probably can.

Free ePub Software

Adobe Digital Editions
Reads both DRM and non-DRM epub ebooks. Most people aren’t jazzed about DRM, but since mainstream book publishers require it on their ebook downloads, you can at least use Adobe Digital Editions to read popular modern books in ePub format.

Calibre
Use Calibre to both read and create ePub files.

iBooks
iBooks for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad can read ePub files. Download it through iTunes.

Mobipocket
Mobipocket Reader was created for the original Open eBook format, and has been a good ebook reading choice for many years.

Bookworm
Bookworm from O’Reilly allows readers to add ePub books to their online library and read them on their web browser or e-reading device.

Stanza
Stanza is a free application that you can use to read ePub ebooks on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

How to Make Your Own ePub eBooks With Calibre (Basic Instructions)

These are very basic instructions on how to create an ePub eBook using Calibre. Once you are comfortable with this process you can get more fancy.

Step 1 – Install Calibre

Download Calibre for your OS and install

Step 2 – Import a File

– Open Calibre

– Click the “Add Books” button (upper left corner)

– Find the file you want to use. You can convert almost any unsecured document, including PDF, Word, txt, and HTML.

Step 3 – Convert to ePub

– Your file should now appear in the main section of the screen. Right-click it > Convert ebooks > Convert individually

– Edit any of the metadata and other settings that you want. When you’re finished, click the OK button at the bottom.

– Calibre will process the book and create an epub file. From this point you can view your file and adjust it if necessary.

Also, Sigil: I’ve recently found a program called Sigil that can create ePub files. I haven’t used it yet but it looks powerful.

Get Free ePub eBooks

Google has a ton of free ebooks in ePub format. From what I’ve seen they are mostly classic titles that are in the public domain. You can get instructions for downloading the books from their blog.

eBook Reader Devices Comparisons

Most of the time this blog is about the software used to read ebooks, but sometimes I will post about the hardware used – after all, it uses software and if you have an ebook reader device, you’ll have to be familiar with the required programs and apps for it.

I have created a page for this blog that lists the most current popular ebook readers, with their prices and tech specs. This will allow anybody shopping for an ebook reader to make an informed decision. I hope this will be especially useful for this holiday season, which is starting today with Thanksgiving (or maybe it started back on Halloween.)

Compare eBook Reader Devices

How To Choose an eBook Format

There are currently many different ebook formats from which to choose. As the ebook industry develops, the amount of formats will probably decrease, as some become standard and others fall away. We’ve already seen this happen to some extent with older e-readers being discontinued and their ebook formats disappearing with them.

These are the most common current ebook formats:

PDF — .pdf
EPUB — .epub
Microsoft Reader — .lit
Mobipocket — .prc
eReader (Palm) — .pdb
Kindle — .azw

There are other formats that can usually be read by e-reader devices, such as .txt and Word files, but I don’t really consider those to be actual ebooks. It’s nice that e-reader devices can display those types of files but they’re really just general text files that you use on your computer.

The best way to choose the format that’s best for you is to make your decision based on what kind of computer or e-reading device you’ll be using. Here is list to get you started:

PDF — Windows, Mac, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Cool-er, Cybook, BeBook, Pandigital Novel
EPUB — Windows, Mac, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Cool-er, Cybook, BeBook, Pandigital Novel
Microsoft Reader — Windows, Windows Mobile
Mobipocket — Windows, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Blackberry, iRex iLiad, Nokia
eReader (Palm) — Windows, Mac, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (Apple devices with Stanza)
Kindle — Amazon Kindle

You should always check the tech specs for your particular device to verify the ebook formats that it can use.

eBookMall has a useful comparison chart that shows many devices, the best ebook format for each, and some tech specs like size and weight. Also, there is a huge chart on Wikipedia that shows a comparison of devices and their supported formats.

I used to recommend that people consider whether they need to print the ebook when choosing a format, but so few ebooks are printable now that it’s almost becoming a non-issue. Your best choice for printable ebooks is PDF, but many (if not most) book publishers disable the printing function on their PDF files because they are concerned about copyright protection. In general, if you need a book on paper, it’s best to just buy the paperback.

The formats listed above are the most common that I’ve seen. If you have an e-reader that reads a different ebook format, please leave a comment and mention it. That might be helpful for others who are trying to figure out which ebook format they should use.

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