eBook : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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Introduction Adobe Digital Editions
Advantages of eBooks Borrowing a Kobo eBook from the Library
Why eBooks Are So Cheap Libraries
Disadvantages of eBooks Proposed Library eBook System
Major eBook Formats Sources of eBooks
How to Buy a Kobo eBook Links


Electronic book reader or the software form of a book read in such a reader. A small hand held device for reading electronic books. There are about 13 different formats. Each eBook reader will support only a subset of them. Some such as Kindles prevent people from sharing books without paying. Owners I have talked to are very enthusiastic. They say they read much more than previously. The devices are lighter than paper books and can hold enough reading for months. So you can take them out and read whatever you are in the mood for. The screens work well in any light. You can get software to read most formats of eBook on a desk top computer or even a cellphone. Electronic books are much cheaper than paper books and are instantly available without going to a bookstore or waiting for them to arrive in the mail. They cannot do animations because the screen cannot change fast enough to keep up. If the author discovers an error in an eBook, he can correct it and have it automatically send to all subscribers. Romance novels lead the eBook revolution, mainly because women did not like other people seeing the cheesy covers of the books they were reading.

Advantages of eBooks

The bottom line is eBooks are much cheaper to produce and distribute. They will inevitably replace paper books. Paper books will come to be seen like art work calligraphy on sheep-skin parchment. Consider further than eBooks are in their infancy. As they evolve they will overwhelm paper books.

Why eBooks Are So Cheap

There are a number of reasons why eBooks are so much cheaper than paper-based books:

Amazon originally set the price of eBooks at $10 or under. At this rate, publishers still make more profit than they did with the equivalent paper book. Barnes & Noble decided customers would tolerate prices up to $12. Then the publishers noticed that libraries were a special case:

So the publishers said they wanted to charge libraries in the order of $90 for ebooks. The libraries are screaming.

To keep things interesting, the US Department of Justice sued Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster for price fixing eBooks.

Most of the classics of science and literature are available for free. Darwin, Plato, Tolstoy, etc. if its no longer under copyright and if its a significant work its been put up for free by the Gutenberg project and is available in Kindle and iBook format. One of the first things I read on the Kobo was The Prince by Machiavelli.

Short books 5000 to 15,000 words are called singles.

Disadvantages of eBooks

The objections to eBooks are mostly emotional and nostalgic. People have an emotional attachment to paper books, especially hard cover, leather bound ones.  They like the feel and smell of them. There is certainly place for high-quality paper books. People imagine if they use just one eBook it implies they must burn all their treasured volumes and never gain visit a used bookstore or support the local bookshop. You have to pick one or the other. They see using a eBook as a sort of adultery — breaking the faith of their love for paper books. Personally, I love both, for different reasons and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

The bottom line is, the people who object most strenuously to eBooks have never read one. They are reacting mainly to their misconceptions and to a sense of loyalty to beloved books and beloved bookshop owners.

Major eBook Formats

If you own a Kindle, you will buy your proprietary format AZW/KF8 copy-protected eBooks from Amazon.
If you own a Kobo, you will buy your ePub eBooks from Kobo.
If you own a Nook, you will buy your ePub eBooks from Barnes & Noble.
If you own a Sony, you will buy your ePub eBooks from Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Formats Supported by Various Readers
Reader AZW KF8 MOBI ePub acsm pdb pdf

Old eBooks sold at Barnes and Noble are in pdb format. New ones are in ePub.

This is just a rough guide. Before you buy, double check the abilities of the particular model you are considering.

DjVu format has advanced compression technology that makes it very good at handling high resolution images of scanned documents and photographs. With DjVu you can take a 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) high resolution scan and store it in less than 100 KB. Unfortunately, none of the eReaders currently support it. You have to view it on a computer.

ePub is an open format. Kindle AZW (Amazon Word) and KF8 are proprietary to Amazon. AZW is MOBI (Mobile pocket eBook format) plus weak copy protection. Apple eBook stores use ePub format. BlackBerry uses MOBI format. All else being equal, open: good, proprietary: bad. The two most important formats to create are MOBI and ePub. Apple currently has book-reading software for its iPhones and iPads.

How to Buy a Kobo eBook

The easy way to buy a book is to plug in your Kobo and start up the desktop Kobo app. It is pretty straightforward. The only catch, is you must use a credit card, not PayPal. The app remembers your account, password, address etc. The book appears in your library on local hard disk. From there it automatically gets synched into the Kobo.

To buy a book from the Kobo store, visit the site, set up an account with Password, select your book and put it in your virtual shopping basket. Click checkout and pay by credit card or PayPal. They don’t send you anything. They simply put the eBook in your online library. Plug in your Kobo into a USB port and start the Kobo Desktop software. If you don’t have the software, you can download it here:


Login to Kobo and it will automatically download all your books into your Kobo including the freebies.

If you want a separate copy for your desktop, click on the kobo library icon in the upper right of the Kobo bookstore, then click my library. Your book will be there. Click:

download ePub

next to your newly purchased book. It will have a ridiculous long gibberish name. It is probably best not to disturb it. If it is DRM (Digital Restrictions/Rights Management) free, you can read it with any sort of reader, including a software reader that runs on the desktop.

Adobe Digital Editions

Books at the Kobo bookstore are not copy protected. However, when you borrow eBooks from the library or you acquire eBooks from other sources they may be. For that, you need Adobe Digital Editions. For some reason, the standard Kobo software will not let you import unprotected PDF files. However, the Adobe software will do that. You must first authorise your computer by getting Adobe to assign your eReader a serial number. For that you need to first create an AdobeID account. The digital Editions app then can then optionally modify documents to run only on that particular Kobo. You drag your eBooks or PDF files onto the Adobe app (not copy/paste). It does not have an auto-sync. So you must then right click to copy them into your Kobo. This is so Mickey Mouse. The two programs should be merged into one seamless consistent whole.

Arbitrary PDFs will not work as well as PDF eBooks. The type may be too small or the pages too wide to fit.

Borrowing a Kobo eBook from the Library

The process of borrowing an eBook from the Victoria public library has been simplified. It is still obscenely complicated. Grandmothers can borrow paper books without trouble. This rigamarole to borrow an eBook taxes the talent of a computer consultant:

  1. Login in to your library account.
  2. Navigate to the eBook section.
  3. Find an eBook you like and click borrow.
  4. Select the ePub or PDF version.
  5. They will ask you for your PIN. They mean your password. If your password does not work, give it your old password. The library eBook system has four passwords, two for the library, one for Kobo and one for Adobe. Keep in mind when you update your password, it will not update the others.
  6. Download the file to your hard disk. It will have a *.acsm name.
  7. Attach your Kobo to the USB port or to WiFi.
  8. Run Adobe Digital Editions.
  9. Drag (not copy/paste) the downloaded book onto the Adobe Digital Editions app. You will see the book has a time limit. When that time limit is over, it will disappear like Cinderella’s coach without any action on your part. It is specially modified to run only on your Kobo.
  10. Click File.
  11. Select the book then right click and select copy to device to copy it into your Kobo.
  12. When you have finished reading the book, bring up Adobe Digital Editions and right click your book and click returned borrowed item.

This process could be simplified:


eBooks are a boon for libraries. They don’t wear out. They can’t get lost. Users can take them out without visiting the library. They can be lent to more than one person at a time. Random House reacted by jacking the prices up to $90 for an eBook to libraries. Penguin refused to sell them to libraries. Some publishers licence the books for N borrowings. I think publishers and libraries will eventually settle on a licensing scheme where libraries have all the world’s eBooks on tap via the Internet and pay a small royalty each time they lend them. Instead of libraries, we may find websites that help you find something suitable to read and takes a small cut of the royalty you pay to read it, acting like a specialised library. The actual book might always be downloaded from the publisher or his agent. Libraries and bookstores get an affiliate referral fee.

The needs of publishers include:

The needs of libraries include:

What we need are a variety of contracts for different types of books. For example, a best seller might allow the library to lend 30 copies at a time to build buzz, but no more or it would interfere with sales. A user might be given the option to buy a eBook instead of returning it. This would be a bonus sale for the publisher, giving him even more motive for the library to lend his books, especially for short-term loans. A library might have a contract allowing it to lend only 10 copies of book. A impatient user might pay a $3 fee to read it now. This fee would go to the publisher. I think the notion of buying individual books makes no sense. The library should sign a contract for the publisher’s entire stable of books and have access to all of them. That would save all kinds of bureaucracy on both sides.

Libraries and publishers are still way too stuck on the paper book library metaphor. There is no reason an eBook library need look remotely the same. The first thing that has to go is an absolute unchanging limit on how many copies may be in circulation at a time.

Proposed Library eBook System

Here is how I think ebooks and libraries should work so nearly everybody wins.

This way publishers get their less popular books out and talked about. The library helps them sell books rather than competing with them. The reader get access to vast new catalog of topical books. The library does not have to guess and gamble how popular various books will be. The publishers make money especially from loans of popular eBooks. Users don’t need to learn another scheme for buying books. It is just a slight wrinkle on the way they borrow books. The people who would be most opposed would be eBook vendors like Amazon. They would not like the publisher and libraries cutting them out.

Sources of eBooks to Buy or Borrow

Sources of eBooks to Buy or Borrow
Source Notes
KoboKobo bookstore. Has some free eBooks.
3M Cloud Library A large collection of downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks for all ages. The Cloud Library is an easy way to browse and check out digital content, place holds and return titles.
Overdrive A collection of popular downloadable eBooks and audiobooks for all ages.
IndieFlix Offers over 7,000 high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, classic TV shows and Web series from 85 countries.
hoopla A digital media service that allows you to borrow free movies, television shows, educational/instructional videos, documentaries, music, and audiobooks. You borrow hoopla titles via a browser, smartphone or tablet (iOS 6 and select Android devices).
Scribd Pay a monthly fee to access their library of eBooks.
zinio for libraries Current issues of popular magazines: news, business, entertainment, fashion, and more…. Read instantly on your computer, download to your tablet, or phone. Please note: When you create a zinio for libraries account your email address, account password, library barcode and name will be stored in the US (passwords are stored in encrypted form).
BiblioBoard Provides access to the Emerging Local Authors eBook collection. Also includes independently published titles from Canada and the United States, as well as historic and contemporary documents, images, and media files from around the world.
MaBiblioNumérique A French ebook lending service that offers fiction and nonfiction for all ages.
Freegal Music A collection of popular MP3 music. Download 5 songs each week and keep them permanently at no charge.
TumbleBooks Animated picture books, novels, and classics with sound, music and narration as well as read-along titles for students from K-12 and ESL (English as a Second Language). Read these books online or listen as they are read aloud – not downloadable. [Requires Flash]
TumbleBookCloud Formerly TumbleReadables. Read-along books for students K-12. Great for reluctant readers and ESL. Read these books online or listen as they are read aloud – not downloadable. [Requires Flash]
Gale Virtual Reference A selection of reference eBooks. Includes encyclopedias, medical reference titles, and more.
KnowBC.com Contains The Encyclopedia of British Columbia, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names, Raincoast Chronicles 20: Lilies and Fireweed: Frontier Women of British Columbia, and Far West: The Story of British Columbia, as well as other eBooks about British Columbia’s social, political, and natural history.
AudioBookCloud.com Audiobooks for all ages. Sign in and you can stream contemporary fiction, nonfiction and English and American classics (with some Spanish translations). Plays, including Shakespeare are also part of the collection. There is no software to download and the books are always available. AudioBookCloud is configured for mobile devices. [Requires Flash]
Biblioenfants.com Livres d’images animés et parlants, comprenant des albums pour enfants, des romans jeunesse et romans classiques, des jeux et des vidéos instructifs ainsi qu’une section pour apprendre les langues. S’addresse aux jeunes depuis la maternelle jusqu’à fin secondaire. Le texte ajustable apparaît surligné lors de la narration. Outil parfait pour encourager la lecture et pour les étudiants de langue seconde. [Requires Flash]

You may not be able to access some of these services directly. You may have to persuade your local library to sign up.

audible.com: audible books for MP3 player
book stores
BookBoon: free eBooks
BookYards: free eBooks
Calibre: to manage an eBook collection. Convert formats. Download news
comparison of eBook formats
DAISY audio eBook format
eBbook conversion utilities
eBook authoring
ePub format specifications
ePub reader for Firefox
eReader connectivity
FeedBooks: free eBooks
FreeBookSpot: free eBooks
FreeComputerBooks: free computer eBooks
FreeeBooks: free eBooks
FreeTechBooks: free technical eBooks
future of electronic online authoring
GetFreeeBooks: free eBooks
google ePub toolkit: to prepare eBooks
ibooks author
Jutoh: editor to prepare eBooks
Lulu conversion service: to prepare eBooks
ManyBooks: free eBooks
Microsoft Press: free eBooks
Nook: Barnes & Noble eBook reader
online book publishing
online bookstores
Online-ConVert: free service to interconvert formats
OnlineProgrammingBooks: free programming eBooks
Overdrive: Amazon’s eBook system for libraries
overview of ePub format
PEAVI.ca: Professional Editors of Vancouver Island, editors to correct spelling, grammar, wording
Personal Bookshelf
Project Gutenberg
Publishing an eBook at Lulu
ReadingFanatic: free eBooks
reddit: free eBooks
Safari online and eBooks
self publishing
Self Publishing at Amazon
Smashwords: indie eBook publisher
Sony eBook Reader
The Walrus: free eBooks
University Of Pennsylvania: free eBook List
W. H. Smith: free eBooks
Wattpad: 100,000 free eBooks for BlackBerry
Which formats which readers support
Wikipedia comparison of eBook formats

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