I am prefacing this post with a bit of commentary on terminology. I used the term ‘digital book’ in the title because I’m not 100% certain what the most accepted convention is when replacing ‘digital’ with ‘e’. Is it e-book, or ebook, or eBook? No one seems to be able to agree:
- This article favours ‘eBook’
- This article observes that British publications tend to use ‘ebook’ and American publications tend to use ‘e-book’
- This article says that the expert style guides endorse the hyphenated version but expects that the hyphen will eventually disappear
What’s a writer to pick?? For the sake of consistency, I’m going to settle on ‘ebook’. I write my books in British English so that fits with the style of the British publications (although it’s not a word that would actually appear in my novels, what with them being set in the 1800s…). I also figure it matches the format of ’email’ nicely too – who even uses ‘e-mail’ these days? Having said that, I’m going to be mentioning electronic readers in this post and ‘ereader’ just doesn’t scan right (and is hardly used anywhere online) so I think I’ll break the consistent streak for that and go with ‘e-reader’.
So with that debate settled, I can move on to today’s main topic of discussion: reading ebooks and the variety of ways to go about doing it. I first formulated this blog post idea when I was planning to self-publish my books only in digital form and wanted to tell potential readers how they could find my book. I have since decided that I’m going to publish a paperback version too, thus catering to all preferences, but I think this information might still be interesting so I’m going ahead with the post nonetheless.
Perhaps you’re a diehard who will only ever read a real book and e-readers be damned – if so, best stop reading now and go straight to the poll at the end! Or it’s possible you already have an e-reader like a Kindle or a Nook and therefore the following particulars won’t be very relevant to you either. But maybe you’re on the fence – you’d like to try out an e-reader but don’t necessarily want to go to the expense of purchasing one. The good news for you is that you can read ebooks without actually using e-readers!
It turns out that there are several free applications which allow you to read ebooks on your computer, on your tablet or even on your phone. Which device you choose is entirely down to personal preference – some would say a computer is too cumbersome, others would deem a phone too small. To keep all options open, I’m going to list a number of applications suitable for each method.
Reading ebooks on a computer
- Adobe Digital Editions (Google)
- Kindle for PC/Mac (Amazon)
- Nook (Barnes & Noble)
- Calibre (for PC/Mac)
Reading ebooks on a tablet/phone
- Google Play Books (Google)
- Kindle for Android/iOS (Amazon)
- Nook (Barnes & Noble)
- Aldiko (for Android/iOS)
These applications have an assortment of different features, but their main function is the same: to organise your ebooks into a library that you can keep and read on your chosen device. I’ve explored the various applications above but the Amazon platforms are the easiest to show you because they linked up to my Kindle as soon as I downloaded them, so you can see what they look like with a stocked library. Here’s the Kindle for PC in grid view:
And here’s the Kindle for Android in list view:
Of course, the glare of the screen might pose a valid concern for some. It’s true that you wouldn’t get that glare with a real book or even an e-reader but I think we are a lot more used to screens now – think of how long you can go scrolling down your Facebook news feed! And you could always adjust your device’s brightness levels to ease the glare.
It’s important to remember that, while the applications themselves are free and many ebooks might be made free during promotions, you should always purchase ebooks legally. This shows your respect for the authors who wrote them. And anyway, ebooks are extremely cheap, averaging somewhere between 99p to £2.99 usually. It would take far more effort to go down the piracy route!
So those are the many means by which you can go about reading ebooks. For people who don’t mind missing the physical turn of a page, they are a great way to enjoy reading whenever and wherever you like. And you won’t miss out if you come across a book that is only available in digital format. If you give it a try, happy reading!
Lastly, please feel free to take part in this quick poll about reading preferences. I’m very interested to see what kind of results it brings!