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Purchasing an eReader – A guide from the CNA-Q Library

June 7, 2011

I have seen a number of Faculty at CNA-Q coming in to the library to ask us about Ebook Readers. If you are purchasing an eBook reader, this post will serve as an information guide to help you find as much information about ebook readers as you can.

What kind of screen do you want?

Ebook Readers come with two kinds of screens, eInk and LCD.

eInk screens are the kind of screens found on the Kindle, the Sony reader and many other dedicated ebook devices.  This type of screen uses tiny capsules inside the screen that turn on (black) or off (white).  The electricity only flows for a millisecond, and the screen can display the words without using any more power.

E-ink screens are like electronic paper. They don’t glow in the dark, and they are much easier to read in bright sunlight.

LCD screens are the kind of screens found on the iPad, and most Laptops. There are some black and white LCD screen readers that look like e-ink. They are often less expensive or have more features than dedicated e-ink devices.

LCD screens use a backlight to shine light through the screen. They glow in the dark, but don’t always look very good in bright sunlight.

To help choose a reader, has an excellent wiki on mobile ebook reading. The article on ebook devices is always up to date with the latest information about ereaders for sale and those that have been recently announced.

eBook Devices

What format do you want to read?

Ebook formats are a mess. It’s often frustrating for consumers to sort out what books will work with which device. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common formats.

Industry Standard
Works on almost every eBook device, except Kindle.

Amazon Standard
Works on the Kindle

An old industry standard.
Works on the Kindle, and many other eBook devices.

Preserves the printed look of a page, an industry standard
Works on many eBook devices including Kindle, may not display well

Now, to make this more complicated.

Ebook publishers wrap their ebooks in DRM (Digital Rights Management), which is like the can part of a can of soup. Ebook formats are the soup. They are what you really want to get to.  You have to have a special opener (a program on the ereader) to open many ebooks.

Here are the kinds of DRM you may run into

Adobe DRM
Industry Standard
Works on most devices, except Kindle
Many apps for iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Android and WebOS support it.

Amazon DRM
Amazon Standard
Only works on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Apps
Only supports ebooks you buy from Amazon.

Apple DRM
Apple Standard
Only works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app iBooks.
Only works on books you buy from the Apple iBooks app.

If you want more information, the MobileRead Wiki has an extensive article on eBook formats and DRM

eBook Formats

What works with the Library?

Not much at the moment.

In the Library catalog, we’ve added a selection of eBooks from the Project Gutenberg catalog. Project Gutenberg books are books that are in the public domain, or in other words, are not protected by copyright.  These are free books that you can read on any device, and have no DRM.

You can find our suggested Project Gutenberg books here.

Due to some complications with Canadian and Qatar copyright law, we’re not sure if we can use Canadian suppliers for lending eBooks to the CNA-Q community. We’re actively looking into this issue at the moment.

If you have or use an iPad

Safari Books provides a service called ‘Safari to Go’ via an iPad app You can download up to 10 books to take with you from our subscription via this app.

You can find full details on how to do this on our answer to Can I download books from Safari Books to a computer or mobile device?

If you have a eReader that supports PDF

You can transfer most PDF files from our eJournals and ebook chapters from CRCnetBASE to your e-reader for reading. Compatibility will vary widely.

If you have a large collection of PDF articles you want to transfer, the free Calibre program works well for ebooks.

Mendeley works well for Journal articles

Contact us @cnaq_library on Twitter, talk to us on our Facebook pageAsk us a Question, or drop by Building 14 for more help.

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