eReaders, eBooks and DRM: The World of Electronic Books

I received a very wished present for my birthday this summer, a Kindle Touch, which has introduced me to the wonderful world of electronic books.

Its special screen is better for the eyesight than that of a computer and it is not necessary to carry heavy and voluminous books to enjoy a nice reading anywhere. Moreover, it is not necessary to plan before travelling which books to read because it contains your whole library!

I have discovered that the two most popular e-reader brands are Sony and Kindle; which one to go for is a matter of personal taste. There is a useful comparison in this link (in Spanish). Before making a choice it is advisable to check what file formats these devices can read and whether they are offered by your favourite online bookshop.

Sony is compatible with .epub, a very extended format among online bookshops and other e-reader brands, used for example by Google Books. Kindle is compatible with .azw and .mobi. .Azw, which is the format used by Amazon, is a version of .mobi with DRM.

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a protection against modifications of the work, including changes in its format. The DRM has allowed writers, editors and bookshops to change the meaning of “selling/buying a book”. When buying an e-book (with DRM) you are buying the right to be able to read the work in a limited number of devices at the same time. Bookshops keep the work in your personal account to download it an unlimited number of times to the authorized devices. It is possible to find very useful complementary information on Apprentice Alf’s Blog, the current DRM guru.

If the e-book does not have DRM (such as those of Project Gutenberg) it is possible to change its format and to keep it in all the devices that you want. There are many programs on internet to do this task, even web-based, but my favourite one by a large difference is Calibre.

Calibre is almost perfect (improving is always possible 😉 ). It is a free easy-to-use program for Windows, Mac, Linux and Portable that recognizes all the e-book formats, allowing to import them into Calibre to organize them in a library in your computer, to change their format and to send them to your devices quickly and easily.

I am now a fan of Calibre and my e-reader, taking it always with me to read whenever I can…so I need to keep finding reading material. I will always welcome book recommendations!!


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