Buyer Beware: Before You Buy a Kindle, Sony, or other Ebook Reader

A friend on Facebook mentioned she was interested in buying a Kindle today and a very interesting conversation cropped up.

I can’t link directly to the conversation, but I’d like to pull out some important questions you should consider before buying a Kindle, Sony or any other dedicated ereader device.

  • Where am I, the buyer, located?

If you’re in the United States or Canada, you have many options other than the Kindle for an ebook reader, and more ebook stores from which to buy them. But if you’re outside of these two countries, or even outside the UK or Australia, your options are much more limited.

Many ebook stores have geographical restrictions on which books you can buy and require a US/Canadian/UK credit card to purchase books, so first check if there any restrictions tied to the available payment methods. [Read When I Have Time article: Where to Find and Buy Ebooks]

  • What is the best ebook reading device?

It’s no secret that I love using the iPad (and previously the iPod Touch) to read ebooks – I find it the most flexible regarding ebooks formats available I can read, and I love the fact that I can do more with it like watch movies, listen to podcasts and use the thousands of applications the Apple store offers. I personally have no problems with the size of the screen or the fact it is back-lit instead of “eye friendly” E Ink.

The good thing about the iPad is that it has the potential to evolve – new applications can come out tomorrow that will help you adapt to the changing ebook world, its formats, and new bookstores! [Read When I Have Time article: iPhone applications to read ebooks]

  • So which ebook reading device should I buy?

Prices of these devices are easily in the $2-300+ range, and since most formats are specific to the device, it’s a big decision if you’re interested in keeping a digital library. I recommend to anyone thinking about buying a Kindle or any other dedicated ebook reader to find a friend with one and beg them to let you borrow the device for about 3 days (a week is better) and plan some reading time so you really get a feel for it.

Take a really good look at the device’s ebook store before buying – see if the books you are really interested in are available. If you read my article, you’ll see that books you buy on the Kindle will NOT be able to transfer to another reader device later (like the Sony, for example) so it’s a commitment. Play first! [Read When I Have Time article: Advantages and Disadvantages of ebooks]

  • My device gives me access to all the classics like Tolstoy and Jane Austen, isn’t that cool?

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but almost every ebook reader will give you access to the classics for free – the Project Gutenberg has them in a ton of formats as well as most device manufacturers will encode them for free, since they start out in plain text. I notice that most people don’t read them in the end.

  • Isn’t there software that will convert from one format to another to get stuff onto e-readers (I have heard good things about a program called Stanza??)

You can convert any non-DRM file into other formats but if the ebook file is protected (with DRM, Digital Rights Management) as most Kindle/Sony/etc files are, you would need to “crack” them which is illegal and therefore not a good option for everyone, especially if you’re not tech savvy. Of course, some people crack ebook files anyway, but there’s no guarantee that a method for cracking ebooks that works today will work tomorrow.

Also, like you saw, Stanza is a software to read ebooks, not an ebook format. I think there is a lot of confusion between the two. There is no standard ebook format, therefore choosing a device means also choosing which formats you will be able to read.

  • Can’t you  put stuff onto Kindles that you don’t buy from Amazon?

For the Kindle, other than the Kindle format which is encrypted with their DRM, you can only put non-DRM Mobipocket files, unencrypted PDF and a few other formats like Microsoft Word which can be encoded into the Amazon Kindle format. Amazon does not support EPUB nor any other special ebook format that might offered by other ebook stores that sell mainstream books.

This has a lot of good info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle Read closely in that many sites compatible with Kindle formats listed will say “unecrypted” or “free” books which means they are public domain books or small pubs/self-published books and not bestsellers.

  • Can’t I make a big effort to buy books that don’t have the DRM slapped onto it? I think this can done particularly with the smaller publishers that I buy from?

It depends on what types of books you like to read, but I haven’t seen any “bestsellers” or mainstream books sold without DRM, ever. Small publishers, as you noted, may offer some books without DRM, but if anyone wants mainstream books (think NYT bestsellers, etc.) they will always have DRM.

The best rule to understand is: public domain books can be encoded into ANY format since they start as plain text, so there will be a lot of sites that offer only these books in Kindle/Sony/etc formats but that doesn’t mean they are really a viable solution for buying books you’re interested in.

Most formats : eReader, Sony, Kindle, etc, will give you a way to encrypt into their format, but the source material cannot be encrypted. So you can encrypt a document you create yourself, an email, a self-published ebook into other formats, but you won’t be able to take a Kindle formatted book and encrypt it into a Sony format.

Do you have any more questions before buying an ebook reader?

Photo by houseofsims / CC BY 2.0

Categories: Ebooks

71 replies »

  1. Sara – great article. We’ve been agonizing over an e-book reader all winter – would like to have one before coming back to Italy. Kindle seems the most limited. You don’t mention the Nook – and for good reason. The only way you can see one is to visit a Barnes and Noble store, and they’re back-ordered until Feb. But it might be an ok option, except for the fact that once you’re out of the US Canada area I think you can’t buy books (it’s the one we liked best after test-reading in various stores). And yes – we should just buy the books with drm – my 2 cents. You wouldn’t steal a book from a bookstore… why would you try over the net? (I don’t mean you you, obviously; I mean ‘one’.) My I-wonder of the day – if Google is going into the Notebook business, which it seems they are, can an e-book reader be far behind? Or incorporated in the notebook? And with G’s record of access, might it not be best of all? One can wait and wonder forever, though, and meanwhile wish one had a good book to read…

    • No one is talking about stealing e-books. But people have to undersand that they aren’t buying a book like you typically by a real paper book. You are buying the right to read the boom and that is it. The reason I don’t buy a Kindle or any other e-reader is because I want to have to freedom to share my books. I have books that I’ve received from friends or bought used. I have also given or let others borrow some of my books. I’m not the only one, I’m sure that it is a common practice. When I buy something, I’m paying for it and I don’t want someone to restrict my rights to use it any way I like legally. That’s the same reason why I don’t buy music online. I buy the CD, rip the MP3’s at any bit rate I feel like it and jot just at a lousy 128 bit rate. I can then put the songs in my iPhone, my desktop, laptop, my Zune, my wive’s and daughter’s laptops, and their MP3’s devices. All without a problem. Try don’t the same with a protected e-book…good luck! In my opinion e-books are a rip off. I think that people need to stop saying that they buy e-books and say instead what it really is; they are buying the right to read an e-book. That’s all, nothing more and nothing else. You have no right to sell or share your book because you DO NOT own a book, just a protected file. Say good bye to sharing, donating books to The Salvation Army or any other charity of your choice, selling them in your yard sale, or simply giving them away for free. Suckers!

      • Maybe you and your friends could start an e-reader sharing group, and each member buy a reader, download different books, and trade them back and forth. You could even divvy up between different reader formats so no format-cracking needed.

      • If I buy a paperback, I can lend it to one friend at a time. If I buy an ebook, why can’t I do the same thing? I should be able to lend my ebook to someone else’s ereader, with it then becoming unreadable on mine for a certain number of days, or I should be able to give it to their ereader, and have it completely gone from mine.

        When I borrow an ebook from the library, it’s readable for 21 days at most, then someone else can borrow it, and I can’t read it on mine anymore. Why can’t the technology be adapted for purchasers of ebooks?

        We are asked to pay as much for an ebook as we pay for a paperback, or even some hard-cover books, but we can give the hard copy books to friends, where-as we can’t the ebook. So why do we have to pay as much for the ebook? It can’t be because it’s more expensive to produce; there’s no printing costs, etc.

        I wouldn’t have a problem paying as much for my ebooks as my paperbacks if I could give them away to one person, but if I can’t, then I shouldn’t have to pay as much for my ebook, it should be discounted accordingly.

      • @Joette – to be fair, Amazon Kindle has created the Lending possibility and people can lend books. The decision if a book is lendable is actually up to the Publisher/Author, not Amazon.

        I think another option to what you’re saying is also being able to transfer ownership of ebooks from one owner to another. If I’m done with a book and no longer want it, I should be able to give it to someone and let them legally own it. I think this technology is possible today but will take adoption by the big platforms to make it possible.

  2. Nice article. What have you heard about or know about the ECTACO JetBook? Does a secure ebook and ebooks with DRM mean the same thing?

  3. Hello friends, i jus wanted to know if ebooks downloaded from ANY site in a pdf format will work on Ebook readers???
    Which ebook reader would ya prescribe me… coz i am livin in canada. I guess WiFi etc is required if ya wanna literally buy books. But what if you jus wanna copy ebooks downloaded from any site on ebook reader???

  4. Can’t seem to make a decision about these things. I’m such a big fan of real books. How good can you really see in the dark? I read sometimes read when my wife is sleeping. Not sure how many are backlit. I think they will all have some shortfalls.

    • @mehdi, PDF, Portable Document Format, by its very nature means that any formatting and special characters inside the document are preserved when read on different devices. The language shouldn’t matter.

  5. I have the same question as Mehdi, but for the ePub files. Is there any simple way to check whether the eReaders can actually read Arabic, Persian or Hebrew files, other than buying one of each?!

  6. I have the Kindle 2 and the Sony Daily Edition PRS-950. I did not like a keyboard being on the 6″ screen Kindle. You can rotate the screen but it’s still annoying having a large frame and the keyboard to hold. You must first register the Kindle to be able to download books from the Amazon website.
    Pdf’s are awful because the text is tiny and when you adjust the font size then you must scroll over to finish reading a line so you only want books with their AZW or mobi or txt format.
    I love the Sony Daily Edition 7″ reader. I like the extra screen size and it’s narrower size is more like a real book. It also can rotate to a horizontal screen if desired. It has no glare problem. It’s light and sleek with a simple row of buttons along the bottom. It also has a touch screen so with a swipe of your finger, you can go to the next page. It reads all the formats great but especially the PDF ebooks I have. I can adjust the font and it resizes the text reflowing it (the text fits across the length of the screen and drops to continue on the next line again with no scrolling) just like Adobe reader does.

  7. “Also, like you saw, Stanza is a software to read ebooks, not an ebook format. I think there is a lot of confusion between the two. There is no standard ebook format, therefore choosing a device means also choosing which formats you will be able to read.”

    Calibre is a nice program that will convert between most formats, however I’m sure it can’t handle DRM.

    http://calibre-ebook.com/

    • Right, Calibre works well with Stanza, actually. But it cannot convert DRM-protected files, so for most “bestsellers,” you will still be limited to one format.

  8. I live in Canada and bought a kindle through Amazon. I do like it and I am able to download books from Amazon – some expensive and some cheap or free. However, when I purchased the kindle I was under the impression that I could download books from the public library. This is not possible in our city as the ebooks at the library are not compatible with the kindle book reader so that was a big disappointment. Other book readers are compatible at the library so maybe kindle was not the best choice for me even though I love the way it works.

    • What would your other choice have been? I live in Canada too, and I am considering Sony or Kindle 3 for my 11 year old. I cannot make up my mind. It really depends on accessibility for me at this stage.

      • The Sony is the better choice in my opinion. I had the original Sony, and before buying a new ereader, I bought and tried them all before settling on another Sony. The purchase grace period is wonderful for trying each one, then returning it if it doesn’t do as you wish.

        The Sony read all the types, where-as the others didn’t read either one or another type. I also liked the fact that I could create txt files, or doc files to put in the ereader when a series of books needed to be read in order. I could create a list, copy it into the reader, and just glance at it when I was ready to start the next book in the series. The others either wouldn’t allow this, or in some limited kind of way.

        I wanted another ereader that read all the formats, and was easy to download either free books, or ones I purchased, and that I could transfer to my daughter when I finished them.

    • I have a kindle and borrow books from the library by converting the format with the free program Calibre. When I’m done reading, the book is deleted since I’ve just borrowed and not bought. Calibre is a great program for managing ebooks.

  9. Amazons black and white version is as light to the eyes as reading a real book.The LCD colored screens are tiring if not hazardous to the eyes after prolonged reading. Amazon has quite a few textbooks available, and they have started creating new as new editions appear, for the kindle ( most of Amazons books are incredibly cheap, and all, even all the classics which are free, are in incredible condition, Barnes & Noble has fallen behind, simply because they offered free books that are public domain and available even through Google, which are merely crooked pictures from old books most of which are faded, or where the texts appears only partially ). Amazon offers free software for all reading devices.They should continue to do so, even for newer devices like the Kno which runs Linux. The kno appears to be an excellent tool for students because textbooks appear on the Kno in fool extend like the real text books. The device allows students to even take actual notes,which can also be saved on USB.

  10. I’ve not read much in the reviews about search features. It would be nice to be able to search a book for words and/or notes you’ve added. It would be much better to be able to search complete libraries of books when you can’t remember exactly what book you read the information from. Being able to reference a book i’ve already read, would be one of the main reasons I’d like an ebook. If i find a similar quote in one book then i can easily go to another book and see how they are similar or different. This helps to put concepts together and to build knowledge.

    Thanks!

  11. i thought about and researched both the iPod touch and the Kindle Reader and decided to go with the iPod touch and i’m very happy with my choice. i have the option of purchasing a Kindle book in seconds or i have several other choices either for buying a book or for obtaining any one of the thousands of free books available from various sources. plus i have all of the other apps on the ipod and, very important to me since i don’t have a car, the device fits in my pocket and is with me wherever i go.

  12. I received a Nook for Christmas this year and am VERY happy with it so far. It was purchased at BEST BUY (not Barnes and Noble), and I am also able to upload books (e-version AND audio version) from my library!

  13. Yep, seconding the nook. I read mine daily, and haven’t purchased a single ebook yet. Charging $10-$25 for an ebook download is ridiculous, in my opinion. I download ebooks from the public library, something that is impossible on the Kindle or as far as I know, any other dedicated ebook reader. The library will keep me busy for the rest of my life, or at least until we can stick a usb up our nostrils and download content directly into our brains. The battery life on the nook is amazing, the screen is easy to read, and customer service is top-notch. And, the recent software update made page turns much faster, which was a common complaint about earlier versions.

    • I’m all for the usb up the nostrils! Anything to always have something to read.

      The Sony is also able to read all formats of e-books. And, you can create book lists in txt or doc format for those series that you need to read in order, and put them in the Sony reader to check which book is next after completing the last one.

      Battery life is also great on the Sony, it lasts me weeks, and I read a lot.

  14. What you should also note is that many public libraries across the USA are using Overdrive, a DRM system that allows one to check out ebooks and other digital media.

    Sony, Nook, iPad everyone BUT the Kindle can use the Public Library system.

    http://www.overdrive.com/

    Before I purchased mine I used all of 3 of them to read for extended periods of time. Just touching it at the store for a few minutes doesn’t give the same feeling as I would curled up on the sofa reading a book. I didn’t like the keyboard of the Kindle. I found that I want more screen, not a keyboard that I would rarely if ever use for annotations or email. The nook, I found the 2nd screen distracting by brightness if I accidentally touched it. The Sony addressed all those, plus something I realized that clinched it, doing dictionary look ups on the Sony is a double tap, on the kindle or nook, I have to use the little joystick to maneuver to the word and then do the look up. Needless to say, even with the price difference I settled on the Sony Touch. I got a Pocket for my wife and a few friends. All of them love it. I’m about to buy another Pocket one as they just went on sale again to $129.99.

    and Calibre is a must for any serious book reader. I’ve not purchased a single book, and I don’t know if I ever will. I have over 7k books in my library right now, only a small percentage of them are the classics.

    • Overdrive now supports Kindle, and my public library (buffalo, ny) has all titles in both Kindle (aka Mobi) and non-Kindle formats.

      Also, I wouldn’t be so proud about your personal library of stolen books.

  15. @sara I cannot open some PDFs on my computer because of specialized fonts. It comes up with just boxes. The PDF was in english. I cannot see that same PDF on my reader for the same reason. If the PDF is just images with text embedded, then it will appear without issue. But if the PDF has type and is searchable it will make the font an issue.

    @mehdi, I was curious and I just tested for you a file on my Sony reader.

    http://www.mobileread.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=18094&d=1227195416

    here’s the results

  16. If an e-book becomes inoperable, all the books are lost. I heard the i-pad is the same. When the battery fails, the customer has to buy another ipad.

    • If an e-book becomes inoperable, all the books are lost.

      Not so if you back everything up to a portable hard drive. And not the stuff you got from Amazon since they archive everything and it is easily retrievable. I bought a 1T such drive and back up everything on my Kindle once a week. I have an extended warranty so my Kindle will be replaced in the event of catastrophe, and Amazon has everything that I got from them archived. Most of what I have on my Kindle I did not get from Amazon so that stuff I back up regulary. I got almost all of it free, but would not want to have to find and download it all again in the event of the demise of my Kindle. Most of what I have is in mobi format. I even convert pdfs to mobi although the Kindle can read pdfs. I think everything displays better as .mobi.

      • It is similar with Sony. I have a copy on my library on my computer and Sony has all the books I’ve purchased on their site so I can re-download anything if a file becomes corrupted or whatever. Also, Sony has a Reader app on my Droid, so I can access any book I’ve purchased on my Droid too!

  17. Interesting discussion on Kindle but am still slightly confused. I live in UK but am visiting daughters in Canada for 2 months in September and possibly for a longer period at a later date. Should I buy Kindle and which model? Advice would be greatly appreciated.

  18. Hey,
    My seven year old sister and I are getting kindles for our birthdays. The reason we chose the kindle, was unlike the ipad or sony, it has a non shiny screen!!!!!
    And we live in the uk so downloading books off amazon is quick,easy and quite cheep ;)

  19. I have been using an ‘iriver Cover Story’ reader for a while now, about six weeks, and though I haven’t used any of the other ereaders on the market, I’d have to say it is really quite good. It comes with it’s own hard cover to protect the screen when not in use and this then clips nicely onto the back of the device when you are reading.

    The pages turn quickly enough, the display is e-ink the same as the kindle, there is plenty of on board storage as well as an SD card slot, it stores and plays mp3’s while you read, through the headphone socket. Don’t know how long the battery will last but I haven’t needed to recharge it in six weeks of daily reading. The text will zoom, the screen is touch sensitive so there is no need for a keyboard, EPUB,PDF, txt, DJVU, and FB2 (I don’t know what the last two are) formats are supported.

    I could, but haven’t bothered, access my email with the Wi-Fi, and buy books from Waterstones online through the device. This doesn’t mean you can only buy books at Waterstone though. You can buy EPUB, etc from anyone who supplies them and veiw them using a PC, simply really. You can also load and veiw your own documents.

    I urge you to give this a look before you spend anything.

  20. I loved your article as it really educated me on the subject. I live in an area subject to the silly US embargo on e book readers. I have 600 books on my laptop which I want to read at my leisure with no desire to buy or download any online.
    The iPod Touch would suit me perfectly, the problem is the size of the screen. The i Pad is a little off budget for me. However I will go and test an iPod Touch with an e book.

  21. Nice to know Amanda Hocking proved that bestsellers indeed come from Indie authors. She sold 1 million ebooks between April 2010 and April 2011 through Smashwords and Createspace.

    Oh, and I have an ebook that is a best seller on Diesel. Diesel gets a lot of foreign shoppers and of course, Smashwords has no DRM!!

    Times are changing and Amanda proved it.

  22. The way amazon.ca present us the kindle is basically a scam, saying 139 for the Kindle 3 with free shipping only to find out while paying that it will cost you 50 dollars more to ship it to Canada.

    WHY amazon.ca has that free shipping advert on it? it doesn’t make any sense and the only reason I can find is to try to trick you to think is cheap, and go trough the process hoping that you will end up ordering it despite the trick/scam.

    Deceptive practices like this keep me me away from making business with amazon.com or amazon.ca in general.

  23. What happens to books with diagrams, graphs or other pictures when viewed on Kindle (or other ebook reader)? E.g., if a book about astronomy has .jpg photos from Hubble or graphs giving distributions of star masses, then will those images in some form be viewable on the kindle? What about an iPad with a kindle app – it has the capability of displaying very high quality images but the question is really whether the ebook “file” contains those pictures at all?

  24. I have 2 kids that have the Sony EReader, I wish that there was a way to put the same books on both as it is enough to buy them once, don’t really want to buy the same books twice.

    • You can put them on both. I have 3 Sony readers and have books on them all. You dont have to rebuy the books. On the Sony site, just log in and go to your account and purchased books. Most all ebook sites are the same, you can log in and there is a list of your purchased books and a choice to click download.

      • You can also do it by just downloading them into your computer, and then copying them into the ereaders. The ereaders when attached to the computer show as another hard drive, and it’s a simple matter of copying the file into the reader in the correct folder.

        It’s the only way I do my books now. I completley bypass the Sony Reader on my computer.

  25. I have a kindle and so do the rest of the family (six of us).

    I love the e-ink which is easy on the eyes and I love the fact that more than one person can read the same book at the same time. So no more fighting on who gets the book first we can all read at once while only buying one copy. They also allow you to loan out your e-books to other people – you just cant access while its on loan.

    Amazon just announced a deal with Overdrive so access to library books is suposed to come by the end of the year. – That was one of my pet peeves.

    As for content Amazon has more than everyone else so that helped make my decision.

  26. I paid $345 for my Kindle with the various accessories. I’m REALLY DISAPPOINTED. I did lots of research about the best e-reader. What I didn’t know to research was whether an e-book reader was a good idea in the first place. i would have learnt that they are DEDICATED ereaders! I went home, set up my Kindle, and discovered that I could only source 1 of 4 !!!!!! books that I wanted – popular publications and recent enough. THEN, I wrote to Kindle who informed me that, ‘NO”, I wouldn’t be able to buy these e-books from another e-store and load them onto my Kindle. NOW, I discover I wont be able to use the local library to read newspapers either. ALSO, after using and Iphone with it’s wonderful touch screen facility, I felt like i was back in the last century with the Kindle buttons – very cumbersome. What is it good for? I wish I’d known all this. I know Amazon want to protect their business with DRM and, I know it’s early days – more publishers will, no doubt, catch up and come on board, But, really, who is suffering in all of this. The consumer. If Amazon can’t offer a good range of books, then why tie people to the Kindle – and we can’t even get newspapers from Libraries!!! I find the device very restrictive. Sure, Amazon think it’s sensible business-wise to tie the consumer to them. But, think about it! If I’d invested in an Ipad like so many of my friends – I could have shopped anywhere. And, that’s what a lot of people will do when they get wise to the many restrictions of the Kindle…not a sensible business move, after all, in my opinion.

    So, I’m going to make my friends and colleagues and acquaintances aware of this article and encourage them to send it on so these facts become common knowledge.

    • Hi, i have a kindle and i can use it to read from any ebook store format, I do it converting any e-book format to kindle format. There are a lot of free tools to do this. One of them is “Calibre”. You may try it and get more of your kindle. Most of people who complain about this specific device are doing this due to a lack of knowledge.

      I hope i helped you to use you device.

      Kind Regards

      • Just a quick note this is not entirely correct – you can only use Calibre to convert ebooks that do not have any DRM on them. If an ebook file has DRM you won’t be able to convert it.

  27. Hi, I’m in the process of researching e-readers and am struggling to decide between the latest Sony and Kindles. My big problem is that I’m in Australia and the choice for ebooks is somewhat limited here. While epub seems to be the better choice, there are a few books I’m interested in which I know can only be bought on Kindle (i.e. azw).

    It seems to be a case of ‘six to one, half a dozen to the other’ and Calibre might be my friend, if DRM isn’t my enemy. So, my question(s) is this: is there any way of knowing for sure if an ebook is DRM-protected *before* you purchase it? And, in people’s experience, is it easier converting azm to Sony or epub to Kindle with Calibre or no difference?

    • I live in Australia too. I’ve been looking at different e-readers, and so far the Sony looks the best for Australians. You can buy books from Sony.com.au or two Australian book shops: Angus & Robinson and Borders (online.)

      • I have the kindle and I am very happy with it. It is a device which has transformed my reading and I read more as a result. All my books are on there. I use the kindle for reading as I don’t like the ipad because the backlit screen is not comfortable and not “authentic” enough. Along with the cover it feels like a book. Simple. And that is why I like it.
        I have 2 kindles and I have registered them through amazon.co.uk even though I live in the UAE. My wife can see the same content that I have so no duplicate buying for subscriptions/books etc.
        No fuss, just read.

      • Hi Kimberley, I ended up buying a Kobo after trying out both the Sony and the Kobo in JBs. I found the Sony’s touch screen wasn’t very responsive and preferred the display and general usability of the Kobo over the Sony. If you can, try to find a store which has them on display so you can actually try them out before you buy. I can buy books online through Kobo, Borders, A&R among others.

  28. The problem with Kindle, Nook etc is that the moment you physically move to another country you can no longer download e-books from the site of origin. In the case of Kindle they will direct you to a website where you are living where maybe you do not understand the language. Example Asia where you might find your self having to buy from their Chinese or Japanese website where no realistic English translations exist. I live in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland and although my Kindle was bought in the UK I am obliged by Amazon to use their German website. The English translation offered by them is simply for the basic commercial operations. When you try to use the web site for your purchases all suddenly becomes fixed in German. So much for world wide web commerce. Worlwide only if you speak all languages. I already speak five languages so why should I have to speak another.

    • Gianni, I am interested in buyiing a Kindle. If I understand correctly, there should be a section on the Amazon.swiss (or whatever it is) of Books in English. I live in Italy and as I understand it I will be able to buy from a selection (probably limited) of books in English. Maybe this is possible for you. Good luck

  29. HI, I am looking into getting an e-book for my daughter, though it would be for study as well as general book-reading. I know the Kindle wouldn´t be suitable die to limited formats as I have spoken to a friend who has one, but what about others? Sony? Another question I have is that, we want to be able to access books in several languages (English, Spanish & Portuguese), though English would be the main one, though we do actually live in Spain. WIll I not be able to buy books from wherever I want with any of these e-readers?

    • @Kim – books available in different languages and in different countries are usually due to the Publisher’s choice of which languages to offer the book in, and where (geographically) the book can be sold.

  30. I am interested in purchasing an ereader so that I can read books when we spend winters in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It would be so much easier than bringing paperbacks. Does anyone know if you can download books from your public library onto a Kindle Fire while you are out of the country? I know you cannot download movies from Netflix but I’m hoping books (especially the free kind from your library) are a possibility.

  31. A good friend of mine has written a documentary and wants to publish his book. It’s about 20 chapters long. What formats would be best to encrypt to for sales? Which websites can he sell his book on? If he starts out with a higher price, like $29.95 can he lower the price as sales drop off? He also has a docunent that he would like to give away to peak interest in his book. What formats should this be in? Any help getting these published would be of great help. Thanks, Ben

  32. I am planning to buy a kindle touch 3g here in italy..but i’m not sure if the dictionary will be in italian or if there’s a way to change the language?..and can i also buy e-books in amzon.com not in amazon.it for this kindle touch?

    • @monica – I’m not sure about the language of the dictionary, but I assume there must be some way to change it. I’m not sure if you can buy books from both stores – I think you’ll need to have logins/payment options for both in order to do it.

  33. Right now I’m leaving this comment from my kindle and i dislike it. I cant download anything unless its from amazon, and i thought there wasn’t much of a difference but there is. Is anyone was to read this, DONT GET THE.KINDLE!!!!!! It takes your money and its a very limited product.

    • Before purchasing my second Sony (my first was a gift), I purchased every ereader I could find, and tried it for a week. With the return policies each had, it was no problem.

      This way, I discovered what types of books, and how many locations I could purchase or download from, that each reader would allow me.

      I didn’t get the Kindle for the reason you state; it was limited to Amazon’s format. No other reader was limited that way.

      I settled on another Sony because it seemed to use the most different types of ebook formats, and it also allowed me the option of creating lists on my computer and loading them on the reader to keep track on “series”. The list would tell me what book came next when I was finished with one and ready to go to the next one.

      Others will have their personal preferences about which is best, but anyone looking to purchase their first reader (or second) should use each one before settling on the one they want. It will prove beneficial in the long run.

  34. I love books and I love reading books. I love the feel of a book and the clear text and being absorbed into another person’s world. I get the same thrill when I use the kindle from Amazon. It is just the same as reading a paperback. I have an ipad and tried it with that but the backlit screen environment leaves me too detached from the reading. I also wanted an ebook reader because I want all my books in digital format, and give me extra shelf space for my flat! I am happy I bought it and even happier to download “free” ebooks. I travel a lot and find that the kindle is the perfect travel companion.

    I think the kindle is a great pleasure book reader but for anything heavier, like doing research or studying, I would give it a miss.

  35. I just don’t “get” it … I lived in Australia where I set up an Amazon account years ago. Now I live in Germany, and yesterday I wanted to take advantage of an offer where I was offered to download a Kindle ebook free of charge from Amazon (I don’t have a Kindle but thought I could install a Kindle reader on my PC?). When I logged in, everything looked familiar and the site language was English. The book was marked as $0.00 and I clicked the 1-click purchase button. But the next screen said that this book was unavailable for me and I should be going to Amazon.de (German based Amazon store) to look for books. What is that? What is the logic behind restricting people around the world to shopping only in those stores of their current physical location? That is limiting earnings and possibilities for the publisher, for Amazon and the reader! I have not much knowledge about ebook readers, kindles etc as I have been using PC’s since the mid 1990’s and I am involved in Internet marketing, but this whole ebook reader business is weird to me. Could someone enlighten me what this is all about? For example, why would anyone buy an ebook reader rather than a tablet PC with Kindle reader installed, as the latter does not restrict you to reading ebooks? How do you download ebooks to your Kindle device, via wifi broadband (provider in your country? Cost?) or can you download from your normal PC and copy over into your Kindle or Tablet PC with Kindle on it? You see…total newbie here when it comes to Kindle, not so much everything else Internet :)

    • Just use torrents for book collections and voila, you can get thousands of books for free! (Disclaimer: I am not claiming anything about using torrents for illegal purposes, I heard that it was possible and that as long as you read only a small percentage of those books then that is ok…).

      You can configure your local settings on your kindle for whatever country you happen to want to buy books from. It just means you have to register on each of the amazon country websites. Pain in the ass I know, but there are ways around it.

      • Hi Daniel, I had tried using a proxy server when wanting to hit the “purchase” (it was free for 2 days) button on Amazon.com. However, that did not work, either as it recognized that this way I had no cookies enabled.
        Not sure how to purchase an ebook on Amazon when they don’t allow me purchase what appears to be available only from a particular geographical location. This was an ebook from a first-time author, not even a big brand title. I really don’t understand Amazon’s way of doing business.

  36. This sounds like a paid advertisement for iPad if you ask me. I smell money all over this article and wouldn’t listen to it for a second. I love apple, but they are a very closed loop system if you get my drift. You look at any “real” reviews on ebook readers you will see that the iPad does not come on top. Kindle or the new Nook look to be the front runners. I personally have the iPad , and I don’t like reading on it. The LCD screen is not a good back ground and neither is the new LED. Next time try to be a little less obvious about your personal bias, especially when they are paying you for it, when writing a review. Thanks for nothing.

    • @Marc – It’s definitely not a paid review, it’s entertaining that you might think that. The article was also written more than 2 years ago when the newer models of the things you mentioned were not available. I still think investigating before buying a Kindle & Nook are really important for people who live outside of the US/Canada. Cheers!

  37. Hi I’m looking to buy a sony in Nz and take it to Uk when we move there in 3 weeks, If I decide to upgrade the sony in the future do I have to replace it with another sony or can I load the books I bought onto another e reader?

    • If you store your ebooks in your computer like I do, then you will have no problem transferring them into the new reader, as long as the new reader will use the same type of ebook, epub, mobi, pdf, etc.

      I don’t use the software that came with my reader (also a Sony, my second); I treat it like it’s just another drive when I attach it to my computer. I load all my ebooks by just dragging and dropping them from the computer into the file on the reader where they belong.

      By loading them into my computer first, I keep a copy of everything I buy or download to go back to again sometime.

  38. I like the idea of a Kindle or similar and I’m sure it’s the future in the making but surely many issues need addressing such as sharing and other issues mentioned in these very interesting posts. The biggest problem I have at the moment is my attachment to books, I have an extensive library and they feel like old friends. I also read in the bath so until they make a totally waterproof kindle or similar I’m afraid it’s the book for me. I coul’nt bear to get rid of them anyway no matter how much room they take. It would be like getting rid of my children….hang on….theres a thought!!!

  39. I live in Spain and have just purchased a Kindle Fire.
    After following the setup instructions I found that virtually all the information, apps and instructions to the only purchasing store i.e. Amazon had been converted to Spanish?
    My command of the language is not very good and therefore I can not even understand the instructions on how to purchase books etc.
    I tried to buy from Amazon U.K. only to be told I am not allowed to purchase and download books because I live outside the U.K?
    No mention was made of this limitation when I read the blurb issued by Amazon, and now I cannot even get an answer from them regarding a fix for this problem or what the hell am I supposed to do with a device that is unfit for purpose?
    Yes, like many here in Spain I to was conned into buying a Kindle Fire which as about as useful as a one legged man in an A— kicking contest.

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