Sunday, December 9, 2012

How To Buy An Ebook – And Keep It

(from Derek Haines Blog "A Vandalism of Words")

When you buy an ebook, do you buy it, or do you really only rent it? Then after this consideration, what restriction come with either choice?

In recent months, the issue of ebook ownership has been discussed at length in both the news and on publishing blogs. The most popular ebook platforms, although very convenient, often impose limitations on ebook purchases. Limits such as the inability to back up, copy, lend or update are just a few of the restrictions that can be placed on a file. While proprietary file types lock your purchase into a ‘walled garden’, the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the most common form of controlling the after purchase use of an ebook.

The much publicised stories of a user’s Kindle being wiped of all purchases by Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s limit on updating an ebook after a credit card expires are just two examples of ebook control gone mad.

So what can you do to ensure that when you buy an ebook, you actually buy it with no, or next to no limitations? The easiest answer is ebooks in the .epub format and DRM free. Most popular ereading devices use .epub, with the exception of Kindle. For Kindle users, the most suitable is the .mobi file type, DRM free.

A number of online retailers are now offering ebooks that are both DRM free, and in the popular file types to suit almost all ereading devices. Smashwords, Kobo and Diesel are at the forefront of DRM free ebook sales.

Another very useful tool to use in ensuring you actually own your ebooks is Calibre. If you can’t locate a DRM free version of an ebook for you device, you can buy or download an .epub version of an ebook and then use Calibre to convert the file to the type used by your device.

While ‘one click’ purchasing and instant delivery to your device may seem appealing, the drawbacks often outweigh this convenience. Perhaps when you would like to lend you purchased ebook to your spouse, and then discover you can’t for instance. So just an extra few seconds at time of purchase may bring you many more advantages.

One of the simplest way to load ebooks onto most devices is old fashioned email. As almost all ereading devices are equipped with an email facility, it is just a matter of downloading or buying the correct file type, or converting using Calibre, and then email the file to your ereader. Open and start reading! Then know that you have really purchased an ebook that you can share, lend, copy, back up and keep forever.

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