Tag Archive | gifts

eReader Gift Buying Guide

For the past few years, eReaders have become more and more popular in the holiday buying season, so I wanted to put together a small guide for people who are interested in buying an eReader but don’t know where to start. So this is structured in FAQ format and written with the newbie in mind. (I suppose I should have put this post together before Black Friday, but hey, there are still 25 more shopping days before Christmas … )

What is the difference between “ebook” and “e-reader”?

“ebook” refers to the digital content that goes on the e-reader. “e-reader” is the physical device itself.eReader Gift Buying Help

What is the most important thing to look for when buying an eReader?

In my opinion, the hardware and software of each eReader is similar enough that it’s not anything to base your decision on. The more important question to ask yourself is: Where do I want to buy my ebooks?

If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Amazon, you should get a Kindle.
If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Barnes & Noble, you should get a Nook.
If you want to buy all of your ebooks at Kobo, you should buy a Kobo eReader.
If you want more flexibility, you can get an eReader that isn’t so tied to a specific store, like a Sony Reader, BeBook, Cybook, or others.

You can also consider the ebook apps that each company provides. For example, companies like Amazon, B&N, and Kobo provide apps for other devices like iPad, smartphones, and Android tablets, so that even if you buy an ebook for your eReader, you can also read it on your other devices via their app. Also keep in mind that ebooks that you get from independent ebook stores can be read in third-party apps on your other devices, too.

What’s the difference between the eReaders that display in black & white vs color?

The eReaders with black & white screens display something called “e-ink”. This is a type of technology that was created to display text just like printed ink on paper. These screens are matte (instead of glossy) which means they don’t reflect light, so you can easily read them while sitting next to a lamp or even outside in the sun. These devices are basically only for reading — because of the screen type (and other hardware factors) they don’t run apps or games. Some can play MP3s.

How will I know how to use an eReader?

Most eReaders come with a manual, either printed or onboard the device. They’re very easy devices to use and you should be able to just pick up one and start using it. The eReaders that run on the Android operating system operate very similarly to a smartphone.

Once you buy some ebooks, the store where you bought them should give you specific instructions on how to load them onto the eReader. Some use “cloud” storage and let you download the ebook directly to the device. In other cases, you’ll have to download the ebook to your computer and then transfer to the eReader. It’s not much different than working with any other files and electronic devices.

Are eReaders good gifts for kids?

First of all, kids are born knowing how to use this stuff, so don’t worry that your kids won’t know how to use it. I think they’re great gifts for kids since they can make reading more fun. Something to consider is whether you want the child to have access to other apps. The tablet-style eReaders have the ability to run games and a variety of other apps, many of which access the internet. The E-Ink eReaders are not so connected and focus more on books.

Where can I get some ebooks for free?

Project Gutenberg has many public domain titles available for free. Most ebook stores have a selection of free ebooks along with the ones that you have to buy. Probably the best thing to do is just Google “free ebooks” (or any variation on that) and see what you can find for yourself. There are a lot of websites that have free ebook downloads once you start looking around.

What if I upgrade my eReader or change computers?

This is usually fine. If your ebooks are in “cloud” storage, like with Amazon, you can just re-download them to your new device. If your ebooks had to be downloaded to your computer and then transferred to your device, you can usually re-download them from the website where you bought them. Prepare for this eventuality by properly “authorizing” your comptuer and devices if the ebooks are protected by DRM.

Confused about any of the terms used in this post? Take a look at my previous post eBook Terms for Newbies for some definitions.

Do you have more questions? Leave them in the comments!

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You got an eBook Reader as a gift. Now what?

eBook Reading devices were a popular gift item this holiday season. There was a lot of hype surrounding them because some new ebook readers were released and others were being sold at special low prices.

If you got an eBook Reader as a gift, you might not know what to do with it. It will be very important that you learn how to use your device and do some preliminary research before you buy and download any ebooks. Please use the following steps as a guide.

1. Do not buy the first ebook you see.

It might be temping to Google one of your favorite books and try to download it as an ebook, but please don’t do that before you’ve learned more about how ebooks work. You will only cause yourself a headache.

2. Determine which ebook formats and file types your device supports.

Your ebook reader device came with a manual or a user guide. READ IT. You don’t have to read it cover-to-cover, but find the part that specifies which file types your device can use.

You should also be able to find this information on the website for the device. Look for sections called “specs” “tech specs” “features” or something similar.

For example, if you have a BeBook Neo you would go to mybebook.com and find the information for the Neo.

I have posted information about supported file types for many popular devices on my eReader Comparisons page. Look under “File Formats Supported” for each device.

3. Try to find a free ebook in a supported format to try out.

Most ebook readers support PDF files. My colleague at Literature & eBooks recently posted a link to a free download of “The Gift of the Magi” for Christmas. You can still download it for free.

BIG DISCLAIMER: Free ebooks usually don’t have DRM* so they do not behave the same way as an ebook that is protected by DRM. For example, you won’t have to “authorize” your device or software. By testing out your eBook reader with a free ebook, you can make sure that the standard file type works on your device, but you won’t yet be completely set up for ebooks that you purchase.

4. Learn how to transfer the ebook from your computer to your device.

Once you know the file types that are supported by your device and you have an ebook in that format, you need to know how to get it from your computer to the device. The best place to find instructions for this is in the user guide or manual.

Most of the time, you will need to connect the device to your computer via a USB cable that it came with. Your computer will recognize the device similarly to how it would recognize a thumb drive or external hard drive.

5. Find an eBook store that sells eBook formats that are supported by your device.

If you have a Kindle, you will need to purchase Kindle ebooks from Amazon. Do not attempt to purchase ebooks elsewhere, because 95% of the time they won’t work.

If you have another dedicated ebook reading device like a Nook, BeBook, Cybook, Kobo, or Sony Reader, then you can buy ebooks from just about any ebook retailer. Some good retailers include ebookmall.com, diesel-ebooks.com, fictionwise.com, and ebooks.com.

You can also purchase ebooks from the same company that makes the ebook reader if it also has an ebook store. For example, if you have a Nook then you can get ebooks from Barnes & Noble.

6. Verify that your device is supported by the ebook store.

Don’t assume that an ebook that you buy at an ebook retailer will work on your device. It is very important that you check all of the product details before placing an order.

If you know that your device can use PDF and EPUB files, then double-check to make sure that the ebook you want to purchase is indeed in that format. If you can’t figure it out, email the company to make sure.

7. Install and authorize any required software before making a purchase.

There is one more layer of double-checking the format that you must do. It is vitally important that you determine whether the ebook you want to buy has DRM on it or not.

For example, many devices support PDF and EPUB files. Those two formats have become the most common and are generally the standard. However, the publisher of the book most likely has required that DRM be present on the download. This means that you will have to use a program called Adobe Digital Editions to download the ebook and manage the transfer of the ebook from your computer to your device. You will need to download Adobe Digital Editions and authorize it using an Adobe ID. Please see my post about Adobe Digital Editions for specific instructions on how to work with this program.

Or, you may be working with a different file type, such as a Mobipocket eBook or a Palm eReader eBook. Check out the other types of ebook software that I’ve reviewed for more information.

8. Follow all download instructions to the letter.

Even if you think you have the software that you need, or you think you don’t need to create a special account, go ahead and follow the instructions anyway. In most cases, you really do need to do what you are being told to do. eBook retail websites don’t give you unnecessary instructions. If you ignore the instructions you will mess up your download.

9. Use these steps as a guide but use your own judgement and follow posted instructions.

These steps are very general. I can’t give you specific instructions here because I don’t know what kind of device you have. Always read your manual and follow the instructions given to you by the website where you are buying your ebooks.

* What is DRM?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is the method by which ebooks are protected from being distributed freely to others. The software ties the ebook to your account so that you can’t give it away. The details will vary depending on the software. This security is required by book publishers because they want to protect their copyrights.

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