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The Pitfalls of E-Book Buying

14 February 2011

A summary of technology issues with ebooks and e-readers from PC World magazine.


In the days of physical bookshelves filled with physical books, most people tended to organize their libraries haphazardly–perhaps by subject, perhaps alphabetically, perhaps by what size of books a particular shelf could accommodate. But with a little effort you could (probably) quickly scan your collection and walk away with the title you wished to read in short order.

Unfortunately, the lack of a universal bookshelf is a huge issue in the e-book world. Buy a book, and if you want to read it again three years down the line, you’ll have to remember where and how you bought it.

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The digital rights management issue remains a point of distinction between Amazon and its competitors. Sony and Kobo, which sell e-book readers as well as e-books, are quick to point out that they, unlike Amazon, use the industry standard ePub format; Apple does, too.

But ePub support alone isn’t synonymous with cross-platform support. Applying DRM to an ePub file can make the ePub book incompatible with other e-readers (be they software or hardware). For example, Adobe Digital Editions ePubs that carry DRM can be read by other software or devices (like Sony’s Digital Reader series of e-readers) that support Adobe Digital Editions. But if you use Adobe’s PC-based library manager, you’ll have to jump through the hoop of entering an Adobe ID.

Barnes & Noble’s e-book shopping experience can be even more confusing: The company has voiced support for ePub, and it offers ePub-formatted books; but when you buy a book, you have no way of knowing whether it has DRM protected. If it is, it’s locked to Barnes & Noble’s system. Furthermore, if you want to redownload an e-book you bought from Barnes & Noble, you’ll have to provide the credit card number that you used to buy it originally.

Link to the rest at The Pitfalls of E-Book Buying: What to Look Out for Before You Purchase