Friday, April 2, 2010

Easing into Ebooks (Part 3)


Easing into Ebooks
Part Three

Welcome back for the last part of my series, Easing into Ebooks. As a reader, I hope you are better informed about the new and exciting technologies now available, which combine comfort and convenience for a pleasant reading experience. I also hope that I've been able to ease a few concerns that weigh heavy on the minds of booklovers as they witness the publishing industry incorporate electronic formatting, and promote reading devices in this digital age.
I'd like to devote the last segment in this series to passing on information about where to find ebooks. Obviously, there are the storefronts of individual publishers and online retailers that specialize in the sale of ebooks. But there are also the major retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders – all of these now have an ebook division, and have either developed a device exclusively sold at their store, or teamed up with a tech company to sell that company's product. Such is the case with Borders and Sony.
Barnes and Noble has done both of these things. The Nook, which was developed exclusively for B&N, is sold at brick and mortar stores and on their online storefront -- there you can also find an extensive ebook catalog. Along with this, they have purchased the popular ebook retailer, Fictionwise, which sells the eSlick Reader, a product of Foxit Corporation.
Amazon strictly promotes its Kindle and Amazon Kindle books, but they have developed a wide array of free apps that allow their books to be read on other devices, such as Apple products like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and soon, the iPad. Kindle books can be purchased and read on Blackberry, PC, and Mac. Kindle is in the process of developing apps for the much anticipated tablet computers, once again, including the iPad. And, as I've already mentioned, these apps are absolutely FREE.
B&N is keeping pace by also developing similar apps, and the Sony Reader Store is with the program too. Competition is an excellent motivator.
Now all of this is well and good, but perhaps you're just getting your feet wet in this rapidly changing world of reading, and want to sample ebooks before you commit to buying any. Many retailers allow you to download a sample of one to five chapters, depending on length, so you can see if the book captures your interest before you hit the "buy" button.
Most retailers also offer some ebooks for free. Sometimes this is done as a promotion effort. An author may have a new book in a series coming out, so for a specified time period another book in that series may be offered for free. Either check up top, or scroll down the length of any ebook retailer and I bet you'll see these words, "Free Ebooks." And there ya have it – except in the case of Amazon, but here's a hint. Amazon calculates their bestsellers list through the number of downloads. Nothing motivates a reader to download a book better than offering it for free. Click Amazon's bestseller's list and see how many of them have $0 listed as their price. If a book interests you though, grab it, because some of them are only offered this way for a few days.
Aside from books given away through retailers, there are also public domain sites where many works of literature have been converted through the effort of volunteers and are available at no cost. Project Gutenburg is a prime example, offering over 75,000 titles completely free of charge. http://gutenberg.us/Collections.htm.
Even libraries are adopting technology that allows readers to access their ebook collection online, and check out books with the aid of a specialized library card. Here's a library doing just that. http://www.greenwichlibrary.org/. Click on "Downloadable Library" to see. This is a great service for the homebound.
Retailers have also heard the demands of customers who wish to loan their ebooks to friends. Barnes & Noble has developed the LendMe service for their ebooks, and other retailers are sure to follow suit. Competition's an excellent motivator! Did I already say that?

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