Ebooks for Idiots! (for Read an E-Book Week!)

I’ve decided today to give you the benefit of my limited, silly ground bits of knowledge on the mystery that is, ebooks.

Yeah, yeah, I know – you’ve got it all figured out. Probably so, but bear with this old broad as she puts down some thoughts on electronic paper for those who may just not be as fast as you are.

Which would be, me.


Ebooks come in a dizzying number of formats. Amazon’s Kindle has one, Sony has one, Barnes and Noble has one, everyone has one. Why? Because they want you to buy ONLY from their store. Thus the inability for you to transfer files from one format to the other. Unless you’re a hacker, in which case you are loved and adored by many a friend who weeps over their loss when they change readers.

Now, most ebook publishers will sell you an ebook in a variety of formats so that you *can* put it on your favorite ebook reader. That’s why when you buy a book you get a huge zip file containing formats that you never knew existed. Or you get to choose the specific format you need and the epublisher sends it to you. Seems to me that the best, and simplest one around is PDF format – used by plenty of other files for other reasons, and thus most people already have the ability to read it on their laptop/mainframe computer.

Which brings me to the next point – ebook readers. I am still too poor to buy one and even if I wanted to, I refuse to pay more than $99 for something that basically does nothing but give me books. If I want something to multitask, I’ll take the money from the Nook or Sony or Kindle and put it into a netbook with Windows when I can read everything without fear of formatting and the like. It blows my mind that no one has yet put out a nice little reader without the bells and whistles. I don’t need an MP3 player, I don’t need to store videos and pictures, I just want to be able to read my ebooks. Yeah. I’m an idiot.


And, finally… what do you read it with?

Let me point you to what is, right now, my bestest friend for ebook reading. Calibre.

Let me say that again.


Calibre is a FREE ebook program for your computer that lets you read almost every format there is under the sun, at present. You can tag your books, sort by publisher or author, skim the covers (if you have a wireless connection) and basically does everything I want in a reader.


You also have the option of the Kindle for PC. This is great if you want to take advantage of all the great FREE ebooks being offered by publishers like, say, Samhain, every month. (Go Misty Evans!) The only caveat here is that you do have to have an online connection to read the books – if you don’t, you can’t.

Barnes & Noble also have theNook application for PC. I haven’t used this at all, since I found it pretty clunky the first time I tried it. But they also offer free books, so…

And where do you find free books that aren’t linked to a bookstore? Well, try Smashwords – yes, that’s my page. Shoot me. *laughs* There’s also Scribd  – you can find specific types of books at the Baen Free Library or at Suvudu Free Library. There’s plenty of free books out there for you to take a look at and enjoy.

Which brings me to piracy. Of course.

Please, please, please do not accept books from sources that you know to be illegal. I can start on a rant here about how you’re taking money out of MY pocket and my publisher’s pocket and go on, but you know it’s wrong. You know that it’s not right to go to a pirate site and have some badly-scanned mess of my book downloaded onto your computer with God knows what sort of viruses or spyware or whatnot along for the ride.

Please don’t do it. Tell your friends not to do it, please. If you’re that desperate for a copy of my book, write me an email detailing your argument and I *might* send you a free copy. No promises, but I’d rather you present your argument in a logical form and convince me of why you can’t spend the price of a large coffee from Starbuck’s.

’nuff said.

the idiot retires….


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