Tuesday, February 5, 2013

E-Books: Cut out the Middleman

If many of you are like me, your habits on reading books have migrated away from paper to some mobile device.  There are all sorts - iPad, iPad Mini (cool), Nook, Kindle, etc.  While not "tactile", they are certainly more convenient than the older paper versions.  In a recent move from one location to another, I counted 50 boxes of books in my own personal collection.  Having all that knowledge on a 1/2 pound device is just so much more convenient.  Of course, there are exceptions such as my grandmother's yearbook from 1926 and a rare "Steamboat Mickey" book, but you get the point. 

One thing that has always bothered me are the limits imposed by the major content providers.  If the books I want are not on iBooks (Apple) or the Amazon site they are essentially not available.  I can't tell you how many times I've been frustrated because I couldn't download the books I wanted.  I also have no interest in the sites that steal the books and offer them on locations similar to the recently closed (and criminal) "Mega Upload" website.  Up until recently I did not know that there are other options which are completely different/separate from the two major providers.  In fact, there are many smaller/other sources that allow you to purchase and download otherwise non-purchasable books and then put them into your iBook or Kindle libraries.

So what to do?

The first and best step is to go directly to the publisher's website.  I happen to like science fiction so I go regularly to Baen Publishing (www.baenebooks.com).  There are similar sites for many publishers that offer sales and downloads of their libraries as well.  There are some cases where you will not be able to get the titles you'd like (sorry Wheel of Time fans) but you'll genuinely be surprised at what you can find.  Also, you will be quite surprised at how the sites "walk" you through the downloading process to get the books into your favorite format: iBooks, Kindle, Google Books, Open Docs, etc.

Since all of us are moving to the tablet world sooner or later, mostly sooner, it's important to know how many options are available to find the books we want.  Don't think for a minute that just because the major content providers don't have what you want, you're out of luck.  You just have to be a little more resourceful about where to look.

**As a side note, if you are an Apple owner (iPad), go check out iTunes U.  It will blow your mind to know how many prestigious colleges have posted whole course curriculums to this app.**


  1. If you purchase this way, I'd recommend checking the terms and conditions carefully. Are you actually buying a copy that you can keep or re-download (such as a PDF)? Or are you only buying the 'rights' to access the book as the company sees fit? If you're not getting ahold of your own digital copy, it would be all too easy for the real owner (the providing company) to modify and/or remove the content at their whim.

  2. I'm actually buying a book that I can download in multiple formats, over and over. In the case of baenebooks, they have digitized the whole book from the original, including the cover. Pretty impressive given that not even iBooks or Kindle does that.