Frequently Asked Questions
Which reader is best for me?
A lot depends upon what type of hardware you are using. A desktop computer with a big screen can use just about anything. Handheld devices with small screens may work best with a particular piece of reader software installed.
Also, individual tastes differ. Some eBook reader software may have a feature that you particularly value. Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook come with their own reader software.
The good news is that reader software is free. You can download a copy of each reader and then download a corresponding version of a free short story to try on it. Read on.
For handheld eBook readers, the MobilRead Wiki has a lot of information on various classes of hardware including:
Adobe Acrobat Reader: Acrobat has been around for a long time and is the only format that reproduces small graphics where the author wants them to be. The most faithful about preserving the original formatting of the author. The latest version will read out loud to you in a cheesy computer voice, but you have to select the passage you want read.
It can't bookmark a page without Adobe Digital Editions. The link on this page will land you on the Windows version page, but there is a link there which will allow you to pick your operating system and language.
Acrobat eBook files are as much as 2 - 3 times the size of the other formats.
For just about any equipment that can read PDF files including Nook.
Adobe Digital Editions: is a free pdf reader that you can add on to Acrobat Reader (Acrobat Reader required). This marvelous gadget solves most of the problems Acrobat has with eBooks in pdf format. It will open a book where you left off reading it. You can also add bookmarks or search for text within the book.
Although you can change the size of the document, you're stuck with its type font and size.
It will also handle Sony and ePub formats and will adjust text size in those formats.
If you are using Kaspersky firewall protection, you may experience download problems. This is because Kaspersky perceives Adobe Digital Editions as malware and blocks it (this can happen with the Windows® firewall as well, but it is rare). Normally when you start a new application such as Adobe Digital Editions, Kaspersky asks if you want to make it a trusted app or process, but it doesn't do this with Adobe Digital Editions. Instead, you must explicitly tell Kaspersky to add Adobe Digital Editions manually to trusted applications. The rules you need to set for Adobe Digital Editions are to "Do not scan network traffic."
Amazon's Kindle Reading Apps Pick the application(s) for your various electronic toys.
On the PC version you can change font size, color, and words per line. One or two pages per screen. Set bookmarks and sync what you're doing with Amazon's records (so you can sync across your various devices). There's a dictionary function so you can look up a word you don't understand. There are also a number of other features from viewing options to device management.
Applications for: Windows PC, iPhone, Mac, BlackBerry, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7, and a Cloud Reader for your browser (you read off Amazon's website).
Mobipocket Reader: Opens an eBook where you left off. Very poor about wrapping text around small graphics. You can change the size of the text for easier reading or (smaller) for more words on a page. You can also change the way the text is presented on the page (margins, line spacing, and in some cases, the actual font).
Sometimes squeezes paragraphs together, ignoring extra line spacing inserted by the author to enhance understanding.
If you purchase a dictionary for it, you can look up words. You can highlight, copy, add notes, add links, and actually modify text.
Works with Windows, Blackberry, PocketPC, Smartphone, Symbian OS (Nokia, Sony, UIQ, etc.), Palm OS, Cybook, iPhone (with iPhone Bookshelf from the ApStore) and iLiad. Doesn't work on Mac or Linux but you can use those operating systems as a conduit to a handheld device.
ePub: The open standard format is getting a real boost. Google's new eBook push uses ePub. Apple's iPad and Sony's newest reader handles ePub, as does Barnes and Noble's Nook. Adobe's Digital Editions (see above) also handles ePub. Other readers include: Plastic Logic, iPhone, iPod Touch, devices that use Android and Aldiko, and number of others.
Download a free short story for testing
God's Agent, a very short story, kindly donated by Al Philipson
What is an eBook?
An eBook is actually a formatted file you download onto your computer or handheld device. In their simplest form, eBooks are designed to look and read just like a paper book, a page at a time, when properly presented on an electronic device.
eBooks can be purchased and downloaded from a web site, CD (compact disk), floppy disk, or even a ZIP disk.
Most eBooks are purchased from web sites via the Internet. The usual method starts with the purchase where your choose one or more books and pay for them with a credit card or PayPal transfer. The online "store" then sends an email to you with a specific web address that you, and only you, can use to download the actual file. If your download fails for some reason, you will often be given several opportunities to complete the transaction over a period of a day or so.
Once the file is on your computer or eBook Reader, you no longer need to be connected to the Internet. The exception would be books that are designed to be read only on the Internet (using html code) in your web browser (Explorer or FireFox for instance). AKW Books only sells downloadable books.
EBooks come in various "flavors", the most popular being Adobe (PDF), Microsoft Reader (LIT), Mobipocket (PRC), and Amazon's Kindle (AZW or unprotected PRC).
A new standard is just getting started called "ePub". The new Sony reader supports ePub and others may follow. Adobe Digital Editions also reads ePub.
Other reading formats exist and are often unique to a particular "e-reader" such as old Sony Readers and Hiebook. Owners of these devices are often restricted to the books and prices offered by one or two specialty stores (often run by the manufacturer of the device). Many eBook readers are actually small hand-held computers, such as PDA's, which can accept a variety of software readers, many of them free (such as Microsoft Reader, Adobe, and Mobipocket). Naturally, your desktop or laptop computer can handle third party readers.
Some eBooks are encoded with a Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption which requires additional action to authorize your reading device to allow the book to be read. AKW Books does not use DRM encryption.
What are the advantages of eBooks?
- Save money. Since the cost of creating (printing) an eBook is lower than the production cost of paper books, they usually sell for a much lower price; a great benefit in the current economy.
- Instant gratification. You can find, buy, download, and start reading an eBook within a few minutes (depending on how much time you take browsing the electronic "stacks". No packing or shipping charges.
- They're "green". No electrons are harmed in the production of an eBook and certainly no trees need be cut down.
- Compact. You can store hundreds, even thousands, of eBooks in a small space. You can fit over a thousand average novels on a CD. Many eBook readers can store dozens to thousands of novels. Computers, of course, can store several thousand eBooks depending upon the amount of hard drive space available.
- Anywhere. With a lightweight eBook reader, you can read ebooks anywhere, on the bus, train, airplane, car (passengers only), and even while standing in line.
- Listen. You can listen to an eBook if your e-reader has the ability to read the book out loud.
- Safe. EBooks aren't printed on high acid paper that will turn yellow and fall apart with age. Nor will mice tear it up to make a nest.
- Link out. Ebooks can include links for one-click access to more information and related websites.
- Search. You can often search an eBook for a word or phrase.
- Change text size. Most eBook readers allow you to change the size of the text to make it easier to read or get more words on a page. Some even allow you to change the font (Times Roman, Aerial, Georgia, etc.).
- Wide selection. Subjects and formats that would never get published in a paper book can be handled in an eBook. Such as: novellas (novels that are shorter than normal), interactive books, animated books, and books on subjects that don't have mass market appeal.
- Some eBooks are free. Usually from people that are promoting a cause or books that explain the advantages and uses of a product or service. Many service providers use eBooks to educate potential customers, often giving away secrets and techniques of their trade. Some go so far as to give away "the whole shop" while hoping you'd rather hire them to do the work, rather than taking the time and hassle of doing it yourself. Books in the public domain are often converted to e-format and offered for free. Project Gutenberg is an outstanding example of this.
- Look just like paper. Some e-readers use electronic paper technology that emulates paper (no back lighting). These devices can be used in full sunlight, but require an outside light source just like a paper book does. The rest use computer monitor technology that involves back lighting, but can be read in low (or no) light.
- Bookmarks don't fall out and lose your place (except Acrobat Reader without Adobe Digital Editions added) and perhaps a few others which don't have a bookmark capability).
- Hands free. Eat lunch while the reader stays flat on the table.
- Highlighting and annotation capabilities in many formats.
What are the disadvantages of eBooks?
- Some formats, such as PDF read without Adobe Digital Editions, don't allow bookmarks, making it difficult to find where you left off.
- When the electricity is out (or missing) and the battery runs flat, you can't read your book(s).
- If a particular format is discontinued, you may not be able to acquire new titles, especially if your reader is locked into that format. However, a change of software can sometimes fix that.
- It's usually difficult to purchase eBooks without a credit card or PayPal account.
- Most handheld reading devices still cost too much. But you can still use your desktop or laptop computer. Or your Pocket PC.
- DRM (Digital Rights Management) schemes are often clunky and error prone, creating headaches for the customer (which is why AKW Books doesn't use DRM).
- Many people still prefer paper, but that's changing, especially among younger people.
Where can I find out more about eBook readers?
There are a number of forums devoted to eBook reader equipment and formats. Most of them are devoted to one or two pieces of equipment or are actually opinion blogs of the host.
- MobilRead Forums seems to be the largest that deals with all equipment and formats.
If you find another good one, please let us know so we can share it here.
Information from other locations
eBooks Just Published is a good source for finding new eBooks when they're released from several sources, including self-published authors (they're not all self-published authors are lousy writers, some are quite good and some are mainstream authors who are cracking the eBook market on their own for various reasons). You can sign up for an RSS feed for automatic notification of new releases. You can also post a review of books on the site without becoming a member.
Where can I find/post book reviews?
For books sold by AKW Books, feel free to read or post reviews at the bottom of the sales page for that particular book. No profanity, please (even if there's some in the book itself).
Barnes and Noble has a place for reviews and ratings of books it sells.
eBook Critique - Professional critiques by Andre Vitorio and guest reviewers. Tightly controled by Andre. Some "announcements" of new books. You can post comments below a particular critique. This site is rather slow right now because Mr. Vitorio is busy with other projects and doesn't have time to give it the attention it deserves. A limited number of other professionals have been given the ability to post as guests.
eBooks Just Published - You're limited to what's been "announced" on that site.
Facebook has a number of "groups" of varying quality devoted to fans of various genre's or reading in general. If you're a member, you can find these groups and participate. By all means, read the group's rules before barging in.
GoodReads - One of the "biggies". Handles any book available for sale (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) as well as a number that are out of print. If you can't find it, you can manually create a listing from scratch (some computer savvy would be nice if you try this). Don't forget to find a digital image of the cover (or scan the one on the book you're reading) before you get started on the manual method.
Amazon allows reviews of books it sells.
Places for Readers to Hang Out:
Facebook has a number of "groups" of varying quality devoted to fans of various genre's or reading in general. If you're a Facebook member, you can find these groups and participate. By all means, read the group's rules before barging in.
GoodReads - One of the "biggies". Has dozens of special interest groups for both readers and authors. Most are open, but you generally have to join the group (no charge) if you want to participate in discussions, rather than just "lurking". Again, read the rules and get the feeling of the group before stumbling in like a happy puppy.
The Princess Book Club (Sacramento, San Francisco area). - Meets the last Saturday of the month. Dress Code: Jeans & a Tiara. Books picked via author request. Venue & time based on book. Contact Sunni K. Harley (916)470-8951. ThePrincessBookClub (at) yahoo.com. Christian based. Men welcome.
Shelfari - an Amazon social media site for book lovers. 18 major groups each with a varying number of sub-groups.
Your local library often has reading groups and such. Check with the desk.