Obviously, what with
two three books out on Kindle and other formats, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about the availability, pros/cons of the different readers and so on. I’ve been pretty surprised at how many formats there are and also how many places are selling ebooks. I knew it was a growing industry, but didn’t realize there was a kind of undercover cult following.
At any rate, there are actually some pretty good reader applications for the PC (or laptop in my case.) I didn’t think downloading a reader application was really necessary or helpful for reading online, until I downloaded them and tried them. All three of these readers are free downloads. My favorite is mobipocket.
Mobipocket also sells ebooks. To get the reader, click on the software tab and then download whichever application you need. In my case, I downloaded the PC application. It’s a spiffy little app, with nice buttons, easy to use interface–and the best part–when it loads a book, it has a nice DARK font. (So far as I know, you can change font sizes with all the apps, but with the defaults on mobipocket I didn’t need to.) The format is a nice, book-shaped one. I’ve read a couple of books using the mobipocket software and found it easy to use (just using the page down or page up; you can jump ahead or back using the scroll at the bottom.) I like that the scroll bar tells you how far you are along in the book (page numbers are meaningless because you can change the fonts to a larger or smaller one.)
Another neat feature that sold me on e-readers–it keeps my “place” in a book when I’m reading. Even if I close the application, when I go back in and open that book–bam, takes me right to where I left off. This is an excellent feature.
Next up, I tried the Stanza reader. This is the one known for use with the iPhone and iPod, but they have a desktop version as well (tabs along the top of the link.) This reader presents a narrower “book,” probably because it is optimized for small devices. The default font isn’t as dark. The formatting (which is often due to the conversion software) isn’t always as “neat.” But the Stanza was easy to use. It loads fast and presents an easy to use “book.” No issues, but not quite as “pretty” as mobipocket. Instead of a “library” of books you’ve loaded, you just open a file like you would with a normal application.
Adobe Digital Editions, like most Adobe products, seemed more complicated than it needed to be. This is the one application that had trouble with my converted files. It locked up opening the EPUB files–I have no idea why. I had to strip out formatting, reload the files and keep my fingers crossed. Obviously something in the original file (probably old HTML code) was causing some sort of problem. There was no way to troubleshoot the issue. Once I stripped formatting, and reconverted, the file loaded.
It was nicely readable. The interface was confusing to me, but I eventually figured out how to create my “library” and open the books to read. The Digital Edition automatically downloaded the covers (mobipocket and stanza did not.) This was perhaps the standout feature for Digital Editions because the cover, more often than just a title, reminds you of what the book is about, or at least gives you a clue as to why you downloaded the book.
For now, I’ll probably use the mobipocket reader. Most of the readers read multiple formats. This is helpful since not all ebooks come in the same format. Of course, if there is DRM on the book, it’s possible that none of the apps will work. Some books with DRM end up tied to a specific reader. At the moment, I’ve solved that by only buying non-DRM books. This limits my reading selection somewhat, but it isn’t as though I’ve run out of books to read.
Edit: Barnes and Noble also has a free reader for the PC (and Kindle is going to provide one in November or December!) The Barnes and Noble product was not very intuitive–took me a while to figure out how to load a book! But it isn’t bad once you get going. Probably the easiest way to get the B&N reader is to click on an ebook and download a sample. You have to login, but it then gives you the option of downloading the reader. When I downloaded my copy, B&N offered me 5 free classics! I don’t know how long that offer is good.
Edit #2: Kindle now has a reader for the PC. I took a look at it and can’t complain. I want this reader mainly so that I can test my own books–how they look and formatted, etc. BUT so far, Amazon has some awfully good freebies that publishers give away as promotions. In the past, you had to have a Kindle to access the books. Now, I can download them and read them on my PC. Some of these deals are free, some are a low price. Either way, I win!