You don’t need an EBR to read e-books

You don’t need an EBR to read e-books

I think a lot of people balk at the idea of spending over $100 for a device on which to read books.

“After all,” they say, “I can read paperbooks for free.”

Yes, that’s a reasonable point.  Most people don’t need a special device on which to read paperbooks (although some people with print disabilities do).

The concern also comes that they are going to buy a device, and then not like the e-book experience.  That’s a reasonable concern…although I’d say that rarely happens. 

Still, they may like the idea of e-books.  They might like the searchability, or the ability to increase text size…or the fact that there are tens of thousands of free books out there!  The ones that aren’t free typically come at a reduced price (although not always).

Well, the good news is that you don’t need to buy an EBR (E-Book Reader) to read e-books…even free ones.  There are an increasing number of ways to get to e-books, and you not need to pay another dime to do it. 

One major point before we get started: one of the things that makes e-books attractive is VizPlex’s E Ink screen.  It’s a non-backlit screen that many people report finding as a more comfortable way on which to read…more comfortable than, say, a computer.  They say it is similar to reading a paperbook.  E Ink screens are still a fairly expensive technology, though, and you just won’t have that same experience with a backlit device.


You probably already have access to a computer…if you didn’t, how would you be reading this blog?  😉

 The main disadvantages to a computer are: the backlighting; and the possible lack of portability.

However, netbooks are quite small, and tablet computers are even smaller.  Nowadays, you can often adjust the lighting (or it may be smart enough to adjust itself), which can help.  Computers still burn a lot more battery than a dedicated EBR, but you may have ones now that get ten hours on a charge.

You can go directly to e-book sites (like or ) and read online, if you want. 

You can also download books from those sites (free) and read them on your computer that way.  PDFs and HTML files will usually work.

ONe site that may be of particular interest to some readers is

Disney Digital Books

but no downloads on that one.

Additionally, you can get “reader apps” or software so you can buy current, in-copyright books and read them on your computer.

Amazon has two such apps, and both are free…

Amazon Reader apps

Barnes & Noble also has free apps:

B&N PC app

B&N Mac app 

There are other programs you can get…but if you want to use them to read books you have purchased, you need to see if they support DRM (Digital Rights Management) and what kind.  That’s code that publishers put into e-book files to control their use.


You can also now read e-books (even ones you have purchased) on a number of cellphones.

Both Kindle and the B&N eReader have apps you can use with iPhones, Blackberrys, and for that matter, iPod touches.

Amazon has also announced that an app for Android phones is coming in the near future.

Cellphones obviously tend to have small screens and are backlit.  However, they do have an advantage in being very portable.  I’ve heard from people who read on their cellphones when out on short trips.  It may not be that comfortable for your for long form reading, but might be good for those last few pages.  🙂

Gaming systems

The Nintendo DS has a “game” which is really 100 classic books (with the ability to download ten more).  Because of the dual screen, that’s going to feel like a book to some people.   This is just being released in the US: you can read more about it in this earlier post.

There is also some stand-alone software you can use for some books.

 Amazon upgrade

Amazon has also offered a service for some time (on some very limited books).  If you bought the book in paper from Amazon, you can pay an additional amount to be able to read an electronic version…but only online, not for download for your Kindle or other dedicated EBR.  You can read more about that in this earlier post.

The future

My guess is that other people are going to see the advantages of people having (finally) become accustomed to reading on screens.  It wouldn’t surprise me if cable providers started offering book channels.  The same thing goes for hotels…you could have a cable channel that would have books on it.

Of course, some hotels are already offering loaner Kindles for people who stay there.  A number of libraries have Kindles (and some other EBRs) as well, so that’s another alternative way to try out the experience.

Do I think it’s justified to own an EBR?  If you read a lot, absolutely.  If you only read short form and from time to time, you may be able to get by without one. 

Regardless, I’m happy to see books becoming more integrated into our daily lives again.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

3 Responses to “You don’t need an EBR to read e-books”

  1. You don't need an EBR to read e-books « I Love My Kindle « Ebooks Extra Says:

    […] more: You don't need an EBR to read e-books « I Love My Kindle Comments […]

  2. Al Says:

    And let’s not forget that you can buy a Kindle and try it out for 30 days. If you don’t think it is worth it just return it postpaid and get all your money back. I did that because I had never even seen one before I ordered my Kindle1. It took me several hours to decide to keep it, it may take others longer and some have returned them.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Excellent point, Al!

      It’s not quite as easy for non-US customers, but the 30-day works great for those in the US.

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