Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finding Books for Your New eReader - An Electronic Media Tutorial - Part 3

Now that you’ve decided which eReader you want you’ll need something to read. There are basically two types of websites that sell books. Publishers and third-party sellers.

Most publishers, even the big New York ones, have their own websites these days where you can purchase directly from them. If you like the books put out by a particular publishing house, this is an easy way to zero in on the books you’re looking for without having to sift through all the others out there. You’ll have to take an extra step to get the book to your eReader, but sometimes the discounts offered by these sites is worth the extra effort.

Third-Party Sellers are all the other sites out there, including the big bookstores and Amazon.

If you’ve purchased one of the major brands of eReader, it couldn’t be simpler to go to their website and pick something out. Make the purchase like you would any internet purchase, and if you’ve opted for the Wi-Fi or 3-G version all you have to do is connect to the internet and your purchase will be downloaded to your eReader within seconds. If not, you will have to connect your device to your computer and download the content to your eReader. Either way, you’ll be reading within a few minutes.

Even though these major retailers have literally hundreds of thousands of titles available, they don’t have everything. There are many more titles out there; you just have to find them. I’ll list some of my favorite sites at the end of this article, but with a little effort, you can find your own. If you choose to purchase from one of these sites, they may or may not, provide the eBook in a format supported by your new eReader.

There are ways around this, most of the time. As long as the eBook you purchased is not encrypted, or protected, you can download a free program to convert your newly purchased eBook to the format you need. There are probably several out there, but the one I use is Calibre. It’s easy to use and once I connect my eReader to my computer, the program sends the converted eBook to my eReader.

Sound complicated? Really, it’s not. I’m one of the most technologically challenged humans on the planet, and I can do it, so I know you can too.

Let’s go back for a minute to the issue of encrypted and protected eBooks. Some publishers, in an effort to stop copyright piracy, are protecting their products by DRM (Digital Rights Management). DRM restricts the purchaser from copying what they’ve just bought. This is very unpopular with some people. We talked about this a little bit in Part 1, but this is important so I’m going to mention it again. We all understand copyright laws. They aren’t new, but eBook technology is new.

 I know you, my as honest as the day is long reader, would never do this, but consider this scenario.

You have just bought the latest bestseller and you rush home to read it. It is so good you want to share it with all your friends. So, you head to your handy-dandy copy machine and run off a few million copies of it and start handing them out to everyone you know, and a few you don’t know. You have just violated the author’s copyright. You have deprived the author and publisher of revenue to which they are entitled for their work. The author spent untold hours writing the book, the publisher has spent money to buy the right to publish it, editors to edit it, typesetters, and cover artists. Printing and distribution, as well as marketing are just a few of the costs involved.

This changes very little in regards to an eBook. Yes, there are no printing costs, and distribution cost is less, but if it’s sold on a website other than their own, they’re paying that site to sell the book for them. If they offer the book in several formats, they have to incur the cost of formatting the book multiple times, similar to offering a print book in multiple languages. Selling the book is their only means of recouping their costs. Hopefully they will make a profit so they can afford to publish more fabulous books for you to read.

Now imagine that all you have to do is click a few computer keys and distribute that same book to millions of people who will pay nothing for it. It’s still copyright infringement, it’s still illegal, and it still hurts the author and the publisher.

That being said, I will tell you there are many pirating sites on the web offering free downloads of eBooks. They all swear they aren’t doing anything illegal, but that just isn’t true.

But…there are free eBooks to be had, legally. Many publishers will offer certain eBooks for free, hoping you will read it, love it, and return to buy other titles by that author. This actually has proven to work very well, and I don’t think it will go away anytime soon. So, if your legitimate seller is offering something for free, go ahead and accept the offer. It’s a great way to try out an author you haven’t read before. I’ve been hooked several times, so beware; it could lead to lots of money spent later on the author’s entire backlist!

In addition, there are millions of books in the public domain, the copyright has expired, or in some cases, they were written long before there were copyright laws. These books can be had for free from multiple sources, including the major booksellers. It’s a great way to have the classics at your fingertips. I’m a big Jane Austen fan and have all of her books on my eReader, and they were all legitimately free.

Our tutorial has come to a close. I’ll leave you with a list of websites to explore.
Happy reading!

Third-Party sellers (owned by B&N) – New to the market. Launched, 12-6-2010

Publishers (a division of Harlequin)

Note: This is in no way a complete list. These are only a few of my favorites. Have fun finding your own!

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