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Here is an FAQ for a new eBook reader or any other person interested in eBooks. If you have a question add it to the discussion page (above).


[edit] Questions

[edit] What are eBooks?

see: eBooks

[edit] Is there a universal name for Readers?

No. The following names are often used: eBook reader, eBook Reader Device, eBook device, digital book reader, digital reader, liseuse. See also: PADD

Is eReader a brand name or a device description? eReader is the name of a software reader originally used on Palm devices, but as eBook Readers become main stream products the term eReader (e-reader) has become a generic term for hardware used to read eBooks.

[edit] What can I use to read eBooks?

There are lots of choices including your home computer. However for mobile use you need something with good battery life and easy to carry around. For the choices check the following articles:

[edit] Are there reviews of eBook Reading devices?

See: Hardware Reviews for a list of those available at MobileRead.

[edit] Is there a preferred format?

It depends on what your eBook Reader will read. The most available formats are ePub for nearly every source other than Amazon, MOBI and its twins AZW for Kindle devices, and finally PDF although a reluctant third.

Well, "preferred" is a mouthful when it comes to format. PDF is usually not preferred for mobile devices (though not always - for instance, you can annotate pdfs with the stylus on the Iliad). Anything with DRM is generally disliked but a necessary evil it seems. However the distinction between the DRM and the format is an important one to make. DRM is a family of technologies to protect the ebooks from being copied, shared illegally, etc. One DRM technology (Adobe's DRM for example) can be applied to different formats (ePub and PDF for example). DRM it's not a format on itself. Probably the only "preferred" format, in the absence of a standard, is whatever can be most easily and accurately be converted into all other formats with the assorted software tools available. The preferred format for an eBook Reader is the format that it supports. Generally there is only one or only one that has DRM support. The publishing industry in general seems to prefer the open ePub format maintained by the IDPF, even if there are several unofficial variations of the format.

Whats Wrong with PDF? See: PDF#Limitations

See: eBook formats

[edit] How can I choose an eBook Reader?

See: Choosing An Ebook Reader

[edit] Where can I buy an eBook Reading Device?

Check: Where to Buy eBook Devices

[edit] How about eBooks for children?

Certainly children can read eBooks and there are some children's eBooks available but the special children's books for younger children are only available in special formats for computer use or specialized hardware. See eBook reading for children.

[edit] Are there free eBooks?

Yes, there is a wealth of free eBooks. See:

[edit] Are the reading programs interchangeable with any laptop software?

There are quite a few reading programs available on multiple platforms. See E-book software for details.

[edit] If I already own the book, do I still have to pay for the e-version?

Almost certainly, though some folks have scanned their own paper books and converted them for reading on their own devices. Legalities depend on where you live. An exception is Amazon, if you buy a paper book and they have an electronic eBook also they will usually offer a free version of the eBook.

[edit] Who supports new printed material? Publishers or book stores?

Publishers control the release and book stores sell the books.

[edit] Will the eBook readers put book stores out of business?

Who knows? It's possible, but I suspect that, though they may have to reinvent themselves somewhat, people still like book-browsing in paper form, and the online experience is going to find it difficult to simulate that satisfactorily, or change that. This is, of course and at the moment, putting aside the issue that can be contained in the phrase "coffee table book".

[edit] Are there any medical issues with eBook reading?

  • Some readers have indicated that backlit displays can irritate you eyes while others have no problems with this. There is also the issue of CVS, Computer Vision Syndrome.
  • One reader has reported that a doctor ophthalmologist told him the minimal safe distance for reading books is about 40 cm. There is no difference whether it is printed or on an eReader. It is about focusing your eyes. A short focus distance puts a continuous strain on the eyes, on the muscles that keep the eyeballs in the shape needed for the corresponding focus distance. This can be particularly important on small screen devices with high resolution screen where there is a tendency to use really small fonts and hold the screen close to your face.

[edit] What's all this copyright and public domain stuff?

Copyright is a monopoly on publication of a fixed work granted to the author of the work by the state.

If there were no copyright laws, everything would be in the "public domain" — anyone could republish works without further payment to the author. Copyright ensures that people who make money by publishing books must pay the author of the books. This is done to encourage and allow people to write more books.

Copyright law specifies how long the copyright on a work lasts. The length of time has varied since the very first copyright laws came in several hundred years ago.

Because copyright is established by law, it varied from country to country, and one country's laws often did not respect the copyright granted to a work in another country.

So about 130 years ago, the Berne Convention came into being. Countries could agree to the terms of the convention, and all countries signing up to the convention agreed that their copyright laws would respect the copyright of works created in other countries as if they had been created locally, for at least a minimum term. The minimum term for written works was set to be the lifetime of the author plus fifty years.

So. For a long time in most countries, copyright existed for the lifetime of the author plus fifty years. But not in the US. The US retained it's "28 years plus 28 years extension" copyright until quite recently, and only signed up to the Berne convention in 1988/9. It was not retroactive and only applied to new books.

So copyright is a monopoly granted by the state. When the copyright period is over, the work becomes a "public domain" work. Anyone can copy it, republish it or adapt it, without any payment to the heirs of the original author.

Copyright length in the US is a lot more complicated than elsewhere. Roughly, if published before 1923 it's in the public domain. If published between 1923 and 1963 inclusive, it might be in the public domain. If published during or after 1964 it is not in public domain. No more works will enter the public domain in the US until 1st January 2019. http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm gives more details.

Copyright in Canada is currently lifetime+50 years; Copyright elsewhere is mostly lifetime+70 years. See Copyright for more details.

[edit] How can I waterproof my Reader?

The easiest way is with a bag such as This one from Aquapac. Some have used freezer zip lock bags with success.

[edit] How about other accessories?

See eBook accessories for enhancements you may want to consider.

[edit] Other FAQs

[edit] Comparisons

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