Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey! It's been a while...

It seems like just about everyone’s talking about eBooks these days… This year has witnessed an explosion both of a plethora eBook formats, as well as accessible technology that has enabled both their proliferation and use. The biggest players in the eBook game still seem to be Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Sony. But whether you choose a Kindle, Nook, Ipad, or one of Sony’s eReaders, it’s worthwhile to consider the file formats inherent to each platform before you decide to take the plunge.

While Project Gutenberg has been digitizing public domain books into plain text for years, almost every major eReader on the scene either favours, or has introduced a its very own eBook format (and DRM system along with it). Since the very core appeal of eBooks lies in their capacity for accessibility and convenience, you’ll want an eReader that can read as many different formats as possible while offering up the least amount of DRM-related barriers. And barriers there be! Seriously, it’s a terrible mess of (un)interoperability – It’s so dry, I don’t even want to paraphrase it, so I’m going to let Wikipedia take over for a block quotation. Hit it!

There are four main ebook DRM schemes at present, one each from Adobe, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Adobe's Adept DRM is applied to ePubs and PDFs, and can be read by several third-party ebook readers, as well as Adobe's Adobe Digital Editions software. Apple's Fairplay DRM is applied to ePubs, and can currently only be read by Apple's iBooks app on iOS devices. Barnes & Noble's DRM scheme is implemented by Adobe, and is applied to ePubs and the older Palm format ebooks. Amazon's DRM is an adaption of the original Mobipocket encryption, and is applied to Amazon's Mobipocket and Topaz format ebooks (Wikipedia).

Wow, I’m not convinced that was even necessary… Anyways, Wikipedia also happens to have a handy chart illustrating device compatibility, check it out!

The TLDR version of the chart is that just about every eReader on the market can read the EPUB format except for longtime EPUB holdout Amazon (none of the Kindles support EPUB natively, though I’ve been told there’s an application available to convert EPUB files for use on Kindle).

Of course, the reading experience also varies from format to format… So how is one to decide? Why not test drive some eBooks! A great way to do this is via one of the many eReader apps available for PC, such as Kindle for PC, or the Kobo Desktop Reader.

What’s that? Where can you find different eBooks to try out? Happily, the Internet abounds with places to download eBooks… But maybe give these a try first!

Hit the books, Nerdlinger!

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posted by Marcus at 12:24 AM | 0 comments
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