E-Reader Refresher

Welcome to Dear Jane, a weekly column based upon reader mailbag questions on anything relating to e-books. No question is too simple or too mundane. We are all learning together. Send your questions Jane@DearAuthor.com with "Dear Jane" in the subject matter.


I spent the last week fielding questions from my family members about how to use their new devices. I thought that there might be several people out there who previously were uninterested in ereading posts that might need a refresher course. The instructions below are for Mac users, however, Kindles and nooks are also PC-compatible.

1. How expensive are the books? Generally speaking the price of books are equal to their paper equivalent or less. If you buy new most of the time, you should not see an increase in your book spending.

2. Can I shop around? It depends. If you got a nook, you can shop at most etailers as the nook accepts "epub" format. Amazon reads only mobi formats. I have a longer post on this subject here. The good news is that Amazon, generally, has the best prices and the greatest selection; but nook, Sony, Kobo readers give a shopper the most retail freedom. Here is an article about who has the best ebook prices

3. How do I get my books on my Kindle or nook? If you don't buy directly on the device or have a "send to" device feature, you are going to have to manually add the books. This is called sideloading. When you connect your Kindle/nook to the computer via a USB, the Kindle/nook should show up as an external harddrive: Just drag over your books. On the Kindle, put them in the documents folder:

Kindle docs screenshot

More on sideloading of Kindle books here. Always remember to download the MOBI format for your Kindle. Kindle also allows you to email yourself books. To email yourself books, you must enter the sender's email address under Manage Your Kindle, enter the emails under "Your Kindle Approve E-mail list." This is to prevent spammers from sending you unwanted documents. TIP: If you send documents to @free.kindle.com, there is no charge. On the nook, put the books in the My files folder. I usually put them in "books":

Nook files

More on sideloading nookbooks here. Download the ePub versions of ebooks. On the nookcolor, you can also load books via email or from a website. More about the nookColor here.

4. Can I lend my books or share them? Publishers are allowing limited sharing or lending of books. Nook currently supports this and Amazon has announced that it will implement this feature in the future. The sharing or lending of books is limited. First, you can only lend a book once. Second, the lending period is only for 14 days. Third, the person to whom you lend the book can only read the book by using the same software as you: Kindle, nook, Kobo, etc. Another way to share books is to share the same account. Nooks and Kindles can be hooked up to the same account although there are some drawbacks. More on sharing here.

5. Where can I find the free classics? There is a lot of talk about free books and where to get them. The classics such as plays by Shakespeare, books by Jane Austen, and book club picks like Dickens can be downloaded for free at places like Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, and manybooks. Retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo also give away promotional freebies. This is a link to the Amazon Kindle promotional freebies. Promotional freebies generally are time sensitive so download them while you can. Dear Author posts the monthly specials that they know of but there are three good sources for the publisher promotions: MobileReads "Deals, Freebies, and Resources" forum; Books on the Knob blog; Kindle Besteller list (broken into free and paid).

6. What is the difference between 3G and wifi and should I have gotten the other one? This was a matter of great debate amongst family members. There is about a $50 price difference between the 3G and wifi. The benefit of the 3G is that you can access the internet anywhere there is cell service and thus buy books anywhere. You do not need to be on a wifi hotspot or at home with wifi access. Whether that is worth $50 more is a personal preference.

Let me know if you have other questions in the comments.


For more discussion about the Sony, please see RT's Reader Forum: E-book Questions Answered Here.

Have an e-book question? Send it to Jane@DearAuthor.com and your question may be featured in her next column.