Feeds

eBooks: What to read on which reader

Your pre-Christmas guide to what's on

High performance access to file storage

eBook readers will be everywhere this Christmas, in the shops if not under the trees, but even publishers don't seem to know what books one can read on the things.

Amazon's Kindle makes things simple: one store with 296,947 books available, and if it's not there then you can't have it. But competitive hardware can get content from a variety of sources, sometimes at different prices, which makes buying an eBook online more akin to wandering down Charing Cross Road than nipping into Tesco.

Not that one has to pay for every eBook - the Gutenberg project has more than 30,000 beyond-copyright works available for free download and import onto one's eBook reader, much of which is worth reading - not least HG Wells's contemporary fiction and war-game rulebook - there's also a plethora of free (self-published) books floating around the internet, a few of which are also worth reading.

But of more interest is content that one can pay for, modern novels and reference works that download and render on an electronic book, which means one has to start by looking at formats.

Most commercial eBooks are protected by some form of Digital Rights Management, so if you're ideologically opposed to DRM then your options are severely limited.

Books for Amazon's Kindle come as AZW files, which can only be read by Kindle hardware or software, which now includes a PC client and an iPhone app. Amazon also owns Mobipocket, a cross-device platform that works on a variety of mobile devices, but is slowly being starved to death by its parent for obvious reasons.

Then we have Adobe's Digital Editions, which uses ePub for layout. Adobe also provides a PC client, and manufacturers of eBook readers can pay around $75,000 for a licence as long as they also agree not to include Mobipocket or Kindle software on the device: Adobe wants the field to itself.

Then we come to Barnes & Noble's effort, a proprietary system that the company got when it bought Fictionwise (and thus eReader) back in March. The Barnes & Noble PC client is a branded version of the eReader software, which is also available for the BlackBerry and iPhone platforms, but until we get our hands on a Nook (B&N's own hardware eBook reader) we won't know how well it integrates into a real eBook reading device.

Banes & Noble seem to be trying to copy Amazon in producing its own platform which it can then license out, but Plastic Logic - which until the announcement of the Nook considered itself to be the supplier of choice for a B&N-branded eBook reader - already has a deal with Adobe for Digital Editions. So it will be interesting to see if the QUEreader supports both formats when Plastic Logic launches it next year, or if the deal with Adobe will quietly be dropped once it goes onto the B&N shelves.

But that's all in the future - today the choice is Amazon's Kindle or Adobe's Digital Editions.

Amazon lists almost 300,000 titles as being available in Kindle editions. That compares well to the Foyles' Charing Cross Road store, which stocks about 250,000 titles. When you use Amazon you can easily and quickly find if a book is available, unlike the Foyles of our youth, but if it isn't there then there's no other option... equally unlike Foyles.

One might imagine that books would either be available electronically or not, and if available then one could get them anywhere, but such is the state of the industry that it's not nearly so simple.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.