For those of you not convinced that eBooks are a substitute for the printed variety then, for what it's worth, here is my view as a person who has been reading eBooks on a variety of devices for the last couple of years. So, OK I'm a little bit biased as I sell my own novels as eBooks, but I'm also a consumer of the genre. You'll have to persevere and try the eBooks out for yourself before you're fully convinced, but in my experience every person who has insisted that they didn't rate reading eBooks over print books had, with one exception, never tried reading eBooks. Of those who have subsequently tried the eBook thing, they love it. Sure, there's a tactile element to print books, as well as allergy inducing paper particles, but you try lugging a couple of dozen of books around with you all day long and you'll soon realise there are disadvantages to the paper versions.
But you're reading this because you've opened a package and found a Kindle or a Kobo, maybe a Nook, possibly a Google Nexus 7 or even an Apple iPad in one of the two variant sizes. Where do you go next?
Well, if the device you have unwrapped is a dedicated eReading device then you are largely limited to the bookstore supporting it for your books - that is, for Amazon Kindle devices look at your local Amazon eStore for books, for Barnes & Noble Nook devices, the B & N store that serves your region and so on. There is one other legitimate route for you (and the implication that there are illegitimate routes is intended - books can be obtained over the internet through eBay and other sales channels that imply they are free but many of them are illegal copies). The legitimate alternative is Smashwords - a US company that lets authors self publish through them non-exclusively and acts as an aggregator, a company that distributes those books to B&N, Kobo, Apple etc. Not every book on Smashwords is distributed to the other bookstores - that's down to the author choosing whether or not to and then jumping though some technical hoops if they do choose to. Anyway, Smashwords provides dedicated eReader owners with an alternative source of eBooks. Downsides are that you'll have to download the correct format (Smashwords makes that very easy for you) onto your computer. From there you'll have to drag the file onto your eReader by connecting it via a USB cable. It may sound techno, but it isn't that hard to do. The other downside to Smashwords is that it does seem to attract a significant number of 'adult' books, some only a few thousand words long which technically makes them an essay. You should be able to filter these books out if they're not your bag and by default Smashwords signs you up with a 'prude filter' engaged.
If you have just unwrapped a tablet computer and want to use it for reading eBooks, then your options are better than ever. Sure, you can use the product store associated with the tablet, if it has one, such as the Apple iBookstore or Amazon store for the Kindle Fire family, as well as the Smashwords option - by the way, if you buy books for an iPad through them then the book pops into the iBookshelf as if it came from Apple.
But the better news is that pretty much all the major eBook sellers have their own eReading apps that you can download for free onto your tablet. So, if you have just opened a Google Nexus you can download the Amazon Kindle app or the B&N app for it. Same goes for your Apple iPad and any other tablet computer. The one bookstore that doesn't seem to let you do this is the Apple bookstore - if you don't have an Apple device you don't get access to their bookstore.So the world really is your oyster as this allows you to shop around a little and perhaps find books not listed on your device's bookstore but on someone else's.
Enjoy your new eReading device.
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