mobilereadlogoWe’ve been quite vocal in our support of the eBook, and so we’ve had quite a few enquiries from eBook virgins, interested in getting involved in this new(ish) medium.

Rather than tell you more about what we think of eBooks and readers (there’ll be plenty of that to come, believe us), we asked those helpful folk over at Mobile Read (in my humble opinion, one of the best sources for eBook and eReader information on the planet) to give us some hints and tips for someone new to eBooks. Mobile Read editor, Nathaniel Hoffelder give us the lowdown…

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The Beginner’s Guide to eReading
by Nathaniel Hoffelder

1. The first thing a beginner should know is that you don’t need to buy a dedicated ebook reader. Do you have a PDA, Blackberry, or smartphone? Any one of these is more than good enough to get you started. I know quite a few people who use one of the above as their main reader and have no intention of buying a dedicated device. In fact, I even know someone who insists that the best way to read an ebook is on his PC.

2. While “ereader” is a common term for ebook reader, there is also a specific ebook format by that name. eReader cannot be read on any of the ebook readers currently on the market. If you are looking for books for the “Sony Ereader”, stop. The Sony Reader cannot read that format.

3. There are many sources of ebooks besides ebook retailers. Publishers sometimes give away an ebook as part of a promotion. Some authors (like Cory Doctorow) give away their work for free. And there sites like Project Gutenberg and Google Books that have quite a few public domain ebooks free for download. If you’d like to know more, click here.

4. I also need to tell you about something called Digital Restrictions Management. DRM is a security measure that publishers [or distributors] add to ebook files as a way to discourage piracy. In some countries, circumventing the DRM on an ebook is illegal. DRM is why you can’t, for example, read an Adobe PDF on all your computers. It’s also why the ebook you bought and downloaded yesterday cannot be read on the device you bought today. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

5. Know your ebook format. Each of the dedicated ebook readers supports exactly one DRMed ebook format. While it’s possible to convert from one ebook format to another, it’s not easy. And if the ebook has DRM, it’s illegal (in some countries).

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Standard disclaimer: This entry has been written by invitation, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Angry Robot, HarperCollinsPublishers, or its staff.

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