Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

eReaders for Your Computer

image Not everyone has a handheld device a la an iPhone or Blackberry. Nor does everyone have an eReader (Kindle, nook, etc.). As of this moment, I don't own either. As of December 25, 2009, I own a Kindle 2. Fortunately for those who aren't willing to pay for one of those options there remain other ways to read eBooks: on your PC or Mac.

Now a desktop or laptop is not the best way to read eBooks. LCD technology by its very nature causes eye fatigue of varying degrees, and few people enjoy curling up in bed with their laptop or tablet. Sitting at my desk, with my laptop open, I rarely do more than read short stories or quickly scan through something longer to see if it's something I might want to print.

That being said, I still wanted to scope out the available eReader applications available for your PC or Mac. I'll take a look at each of the eBookstores from my previous post and list the eReader app each requires you to install in order to read eBooks from their store.

That last statement perhaps is worth commenting on: many eBookstores have their own application you will need to install in order to read content from their site. If you're tech savvy enough you may be able to get away with downloading in say, the EPUB format, then import that file into some other eReader application or convert it from one format to another to satisfy the app in question, but my suspicion is that you'll be fighting DRM all the way.

Other eBookstores are satisfied with offering their eBooks in a variety of formats, then pointing you in the direction of someone else's eReader application. For example, DRM-protected PDF files often require Adobe Digital Editions.

As you can imagine by glancing at the list below, if you shop at all of these eStores you're going to have to install a lot of readers:

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My documents folder has a corresponding number of eBook folders, which has certainly cluttered things up a bit.

So, here are the eBookstores with their respective eReader apps listed alongside.

1. Amazon.com Kindle Store
eBook formats: AZW (aka, Kindle format)
eReader App: Kindle for PC

2. Barnes & Noble
eBook formats: PDB, EPUB
eReader App: Barnes & Noble eReader

3. Books On Board
eBook formats: ADE, PDB, EPUB, MOBI, LIT
eReader Apps: Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions

4. Diesel eBook Store
eBook formats: PDB, PDF, MOBI
eReader Apps: Adobe Digital Editions

5. eBooks.com
eBook formats: MOBI, LIT, PDF, EPUB
eReader Apps: Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions

6. fictionwise
eBook formats: PDB, LIT, PDF, MOBI, LRF
eReader Apps: Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions

7. kobo books
eBook formats: EPUB, PDF
eReader Apps: Adobe Digital Editions

8. Mobipocket eBooks
eBook formats: MOBI
eReader Apps: Mobipocket Reader

9. Palm eBook Store
eBook formats: PDB
eReader App: eReader Pro

10. Scribd
eBook formats: DOC/DOCX, PDF, ODF, TXT, RTF, others?
eReader Apps: Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions

11. Smashwords
eBook formats: HTML, MOBI, EPUB, PDF, RTF, LRF, PDB, TXT
eReader Apps: Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions

12. Sony Reader Store
eBook formats: EPUB
eReader App: Reader Library

13. Google eBookstore (added 2010-12-13)
eBook formats: EPUB, PDF
eReader App: for non-DRM, you have many options. For DRM-protected content, Adobe Digital Editions.

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Kindle for PC

One of the features lacking in Amazon's Kindle plans for e-book domination has been the fact that in order to read e-books purchased from their store you need to have a Kindle.

No longer.

Amazon has just released the new Kindle for PC software, currently in beta with Mac version coming soon, which is a free download and allows you to view Kindle e-books on your home computer or laptop.

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If you're leery of beta software best wait for the release version, though I installed and did the basics without any issue.

Kindle for PC is a quick install. In moments, I was presented with the application's opening screen:

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The "Register now to get started" dialog wants your Amazon account information, but it is not necessary to fill this in as there is a "continue without registering" option. I went ahead and filled in my Amazon account information and clicked "Register".

Here's the application resized for better viewing:

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The interface is simple almost to the point of being plain. But then it has a fairly narrow, specific purpose: to view Kindle-formatted e-books. Since I registered the software with my Amazon account, Kindle for PC went through a quick sync cycle to see what Kindle e-books I had already purchased. Of course, I don't own a Kindle and therefore have not purchased any e-books from the Kindle store, so nothing showed up.

Fortunately, Amazon makes it easy to add Kindle e-books to my collection by placing a button at the top of the app that says, "Shop in Kindle Store":

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That, of course, brings you to the Kindle storefront where, with a quick search, I can find my e-book, The Hall of the Wood.

If you're curious about how the buying process works, click on the "How buying works" link beneath the "Buy" button at the right. This will bring up the following dialog with the new Kindle for PC option listed alongside the more traditional ones:

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You'll also see the Kindle for PC device already selected if you registered when the app came up:

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For demonstration purposes, and because I've never actually seen my e-book other than in DTP preview mode, I went ahead and purchased my own e-book. Chalk up another sale for me. Once I went through the payment method, etc., I get this:

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After clicking "Go to Kindle for PC", I'm brought back to the Kindle for PC app:

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A quick double-click on my e-book and it brings it up in all its glory:

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Now that's cool.

I can't say I'm real keen on reading e-books on my PC (or Mac if I had one). In other words, I still want an e-reader. But Amazon is addressing a void in the Kindle's feature set. One less thing for someone on the fence about purchasing one e-reader over another to concern themselves with. Plus, who knows, for people who want to buy e-books from Amazon but don't have an iPhone or Kindle, now they can.

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