Lately I’ve noticed another trend regarding ebook users and a point of confusion for them. This is a very simple concept but the confusion around it seems to affect both novice and veteran ebook/computer users.
Here’s what happens:
The person does a great job of following instructions for downloading the ebook file, and they even follow the recommended procedure for authorizing their software. They download the ebook file to their computer and all is well.
At this point, the next step is to transfer the file to their device. Whether it’s an e-reader, Palm, Windows Mobile, or something else, it’s the same concept: if you’ve downloaded a file to your computer, and you want to also have that file on your device, the file has to be transferred from your computer to your device.
And something goes wrong here. Perhaps the user has a brain freeze, or perhaps they actually don’t understand, but they look at their device and they don’t see the ebook on it, and they can’t comprehend why it isn’t there.
It might be some kind of mixed-up confusion stemming from the fact that sometimes you can download a file directly to a device. For examples, when you buy an app on your phone, or if you have a Kindle and you buy an ebook from within the Kindle itself.
But that’s not what’s going on in this situation. The user has downloaded a file to their computer, and they know that they’ve done that. They see it on their computer. Then they look at their e-reader, and they don’t see it there, and they don’t understand why.
If this describes you, let me clear it up. When you download any file to your computer (an ebook or any other file), it only gets saved onto your computer’s hard drive. I don’t know of any mechanism that will ever save a file to your computer and another location simultaneously. (That’s not to say that there is no software in existence that can automatically copy a file from one location to another, but if you don’t have something like that installed, don’t expect it to happen on its own, because it won’t.)
The method by which you transfer the ebook to your device will vary a bit with each type of device, but in general, you can probably load the ebook onto it just like you would any other file. If you’ve got a Palm or Windows Mobile you just use the Sync software that it came with. If you’ve got an e-reader you can plug it into your computer via USB and transfer the file over the same way you would with an external drive. If your ebook has DRM you might have to use Adobe Digital Editions or some other software, depending on the format of the ebook. That’s enough for a whole different post, and I’ve explained the use of Adobe Digital Editions before.
So here’s a small summary: When you download a file to your computer, it is only saved to your computer’s hard drive. If you’d like to use that file on another device, go ahead and copy it over to that device.
Earlier this week Google announced their “own” eReader device. They have commandeered the iriver Story HD, which has already been around for a while, and added some built-in Google Books functionality to it, and are now going to be selling it at Target for $139.99.
Before this, you could use ebooks from Google on your computer or many devices (iOS, Android, etc) by downloading the ebook and then sending it to the device. This is different because you can use the iriver Story to wirelessly download ebooks directly to the device.
According to the Google blog post, this is just the beginning. They’d like more eReader developers to work in WiFi access to Google Books on their devices as well.
A while back I tested the Google eBooks system and wrote a post with details about it. I liked how it worked. I read a book or two in the Google Books app on my iPhone and was pleased with it. It would be useful to be able to download ebooks directly to an E-Ink eReader if you were already doing most of your e-reading on that type of device.
I think it would be great if eReader manufacturers could add this into already-existing devices, perhaps in firmware updates. That way people could choose to make use of their current downloading system as well as Google Books. I doubt they will do that right away since that would reduce any need for buying this iriver device, but perhaps it will happen a little later on.
This study and report by Pew Internet says that e-reader ownership has doubled within the last six months, bringing ownership of e-readers up to 12% of all adults in the US.
My local news actually reported this last week. I don’t know if they got their data from this study or elsewhere, but they also said that ownership of e-reading devices was up to 12% of those surveyed.
What I found especially interesting about that news report was that nobody seemed really shocked by it. For a long time, the idea of reading ebooks was scoffed at, and every time I told anybody what I did for work they would respond with something like, “Oh, hmm. I like to read on paper.” Of course, the person had never actually used an ebook or e-reader, so this is like a little kid saying they don’t like kiwi before they’ve even tried it. Nowadays I still get the same response from some people, but in general ebooks have become mainstream enough that they aren’t being treated with as much prejudice.
This Pew article has some other interesting numbers in their demographics study. E-reader ownership is fairly evenly distributed between age brackets, evenly split between male and female, but the higher you go in income or level of school completed, the more e-readers you get. That’s not surprising since this kind of thing falls under the category of disposable income, but I do find it interesting that people of all ages own e-readers.
They also have information on the amount of people who own e-readers as well as tablets, generally indicating that e-readers are more widely owned than tablets at this point. That is to be expected since tablets are a bit newer and more expensive.
I attribute this growth to the excellent marketing that Amazon does of its Kindle, as well as the popularity of the Nook and Kobo e-readers. Even though I don’t agree with the restrictive nature of the Kindle, Amazon made e-readers a household object, and the rest of the market has grown because of that.
As I’ve mentioned before, this blog is mostly about software but sometimes I think it’s useful to write about related hardware. (Generally only hardware that can run ebook software, such as eReaders, tablets, and mobile phones.)
There have recently been some new eReaders released and some price drops that I wanted to share with you.
This is old news already, but Amazon has released a new version of the Kindle called “Kindle with Special Offers”. It’s the same as the Kindle WiFi model, but $25 less at $114. Coupons and discounts are displayed in the form of screen savers and along the bottom of the home screen. They are designed to not interrupt your reading at all.
Depending on the offers, they might actually be useful for you. You can get discounts on Kindle ebooks, Amazon Gift Cards, and other products sold at Amazon like HDTVs, for example.
Personally, I don’t know whether I’d get this model or not. It could end up saving you some money if you wanted the offers being given. Or it could just end up being annoying. One of the things I like about reading a book is that it is not online, and not involved in ads.
Barnes & Noble has released a new version of the Nook: a smaller device with a touch screen. It’s available for pre-order right now, and the price is $139.
My impression is that this Nook is aimed at non-techy people. Its almost-square size makes it cute, and they seem to be really pushing it as an easy to use device. This is in contrast to the Nook color, which they’re billing as “the reader’s tablet” since it runs on the Android OS and even now has apps available.
Meanwhile, the original Nook has been pushed to the bottom of the screen, called the “NOOK 1st Edition”, and has had its price dropped to $119.
The Nook Touch looks like a fun eReader, especially for those who don’t want a tablet. It’s a good price, too.
Similarly, Kobo now has a touch-screen version available. It’s also more square than the older models, but not as much as the Nook Touch. It has WiFi and all of the other features that the other Kobo eReaders have. It is available for pre-order from Borders for $129 (and other retailers).
The page of specs says that it comes with 15 ebook previews for free. I wonder if that means it does not come with the 100 free pre-loaded books like the older Kobo models. That was one of the things I found most endearing to the Kobo company.
Kobo also now has a “Reading Life” app, which apparently tracks your reading habits, lets you share things on Facebook, and earn rewards. Sounds kind of like one of those grocery store clubs to me, and I wonder if they will mostly be using it to gather data on what to sell you. But it could be interesting in any case.
Both the BeBook Neo and BeBook Club eReaders have gone on sale at eBookMall.com. The Neo has dropped down to $199 and the Club to $169. Plus the Club now comes with a free case, which they say is a $30 value.
I have a BeBook Neo and I like it quite a lot, especially with ePub ebooks. The Neo does have a touch screen, but it’s not the finger-swiping kind. It comes with a stylus that you use to tap on the screen. It was released before these touch screens became as popular as they are now. The stylus method that it has works well enough because it at least means that you don’t have to navigate through the screens with the buttons.
I don’t know as much about the Club, but it does have all of the same features that are now standard on eReaders, and it was designed to cost less than the Neo.
All of this activity in the eReader department makes me wonder if my previous impression of the market was incorrect. It might turn out that there are plenty of folks who want a dedicated e-reading device, and don’t want a full tablet. Either way, I am glad to see that there is still so much interest in eReaders, and that people are reading in general.
The other day I was in Best Buy and I happened to walk through their display of e-readers and tablets. To be totally blunt: the e-readers looked very sad, boring, and even outdated.
It’s not their fault. E-readers are great devices that are really good at what they do. The problem is that they are paling in comparison to tablets, which can function just as well as e-readers while doing a million other things in full color. Next to that, an e-reader with its black & white E-Ink display sort of looks like you’re seeing some piece of technology from the 1950’s.
I’ve written some articles about the differences between tablets and e-readers, such as my Tablet vs eReader Squidoo lens. In my opinion, whether you choose a tablet or e-reader really just depends on what you need from the device.
If all you want is a simple device for reading ebooks, then an e-reader will be fine. The E-Ink screen will also save you a massive amount of battery time, compared to a tablet. E-Ink was created specifically for reading, mimicking text-on-paper, so it can be easier on your eyes than an LCD screen. And, of course, a huge difference between e-readers and tablets is the price. At the Best Buy I was in, they had the Motorola Xoom priced at $799. You can get a Kindle for $129 nowadays.
But then the big question for a shopper is: if I’m going to buy a tablet-style device, why buy one that only reads ebooks when I can get one that I can use for books, games, internet, video, email, apps, etc? The extra cost is reflected in the additional functionality, and they’re not all as expensive as nearly $800.
Modern e-readers, especially the Kindle, did an awesome thing for ebooks. eBooks have been around for 10-15 years but only became mainstream when Amazon managed to make Kindle a household name. In that sense, e-readers have fulfilled their purpose, and done a good job of it.
Now it seems that Amazon will be releasing a tablet, according to this article and others. Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color is already partially a tablet, and I’ve read that they might be coming out with a new device that might be more tablet-like. BeBook has just released a tablet called the BeBook Live, which runs on Android. It’s not yet available in the US, but it’s selling for $279, which really helps in the affordability department.
It also looks like the makers of mobile phones are scrambling to offer tablet devices. Blackberry is now running commercials for their Playbook tablet. We already have the Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and of course, the iPad, which everyone is trying to compete against.
Personally, I am torn at the moment. I prefer to read from a device that is back-lit, like a tablet. However, I would not spend more than about $300 for this type of device since they’re not quite full computers and I already have a phone that does most of the same things, albeit on a smaller screen.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out this article about 10 Memorable Milestones in Tablet History.
I was looking through the stats for this blog and noticed some themes in the search terms that people use to get to this website. I know that posting those just perpetuates the same information, but I want to make sure that people get to the correct pages to find answers to their questions.
Adobe Digital Editions and ACSM Files
The bulk of the search terms have to do with Adobe Digital Editions and .acsm files. I wrote an entire post about what .acsm files are because I know that people are very confused about them. This is a sampling of the related search terms:
acsm files to epub
convert .acsm to .pdf
adobe digital editions how to save to another format
how to open acsm file
ascm what support e reader
how many devices does adobe digital editions allow
can you authorize more than one device to adobe digital editions
download failed. content has already been authorised to another user. adobe error
Adobe has a big list of all of the e-reader device types that they support. Check that to see if your device is included.
As far as I know, they allow you to authorize up to 6 computers and/or devices with the same Adobe ID. If you’re getting an error message that says the ebook was already licensed to a different user, that means you’re using the wrong Adobe ID.
Another group of search terms has to do with Android-powered tablets.
what ebook reader to use on my xoom
importing ebooks from pc to aldiko android
androide adobe drm ereader
samsung galaxy for reading e books
how to put ebook on android tablet
iOS DRM eBook Apps
There are similar search terms that indicate people want to know how to read DRM ebooks on iOS devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Examples:
drm ebook apps for ipod touch
adobe ebook to itunes
For that, I recommend Bluefire Reader. Like Aldiko, it supports DRM and non-DRM Adobe ebooks.
Other General ebook Stuff
Then there are also general search terms related to ebook usage, such as:
ebook reader v tablets
why ebooks have grown in popularity
software for .azw readers for computers
See my fabulous Squidoo lens for information about eReaders vs Tablets.
Why have ebooks grown in popularity? I think the biggest boom came when Amazon released newer versions of the Kindle. After that, more and more e-readers became more popular. eBooks have been around for a long time, but Amazon managed to make the Kindle a household name, and that boosted the entire ebook industry.
.azw is the file extension of a Kindle ebook. If you want to read that on your computer, you can use the Kindle app.
If you just want to learn about “possible ereaders” then you should check out my eReader Comparisons page for an overview. My eBook Software page covers all of the ereader formats that I’ve reviewed so far.
I’ve made another lens on Squidoo. This one compares tablet computers to e-readers.
The lens itself is meant to be very objective about the subject, but my personal opinion is that tablets are quickly making e-readers unnecessary. Since tablets can do so much more than read ebooks, there really isn’t much need for a separate device that is only for reading. However, there is a big barrier to that, which is the price. Tablets are $500 or more right now, while the cheaper ebook readers are about $150, give or take $20.
Check out the lens for more information. I think it should be useful for anybody who is shopping for this type of device.