101 Tips for All Your eBook Reader Needs
By Angelita Williams
As a student in a distance learning program, you're probably used to trying out all sorts of web tools, including online books and note-taking tools that let you catch up on school work wherever you can find an Internet connection. But what if you could take wireless learning one step further? With ebook readers, you can study, read Word documents, read whole novels, subscribe to blogs, browse newspapers and magazines, and more. Here are 101 tips for managing, customizing, and using your ereader.
Before you buy an ebook reader, you'll need to consider your reading habits, budget, user reviews, and ebook formats.
- Consider how -- and how often -- you read: Are you really going to use the Kindle? If toting around books and magazines is no trouble for you, you may not need to bother with one. If you're a frequent traveler, however, a Kindle could be a good investment.
- Check reviews: Sites like Laptopmag.com and others post reader and editor reviews of various ebook readers.
- Look for coupons: Just because they're new and trendy doesn't mean you have to pay full price. Look for online coupons and discount codes before checking out.
- Check for updates: Make sure you're not buying a model that's about to be outdated when a software update is slated to be released the next month.
- Evaluate your reading material: Kindles and other ebook readers are best if you want to read magazines, novels and newspapers, not reference books.
- Consider buying used: Amazon.com sells used Kindles in supposedly very good and "like new" condition at heavily discounted prices.
- Consider technical support: Don't just pick your ereader based on how it works and looks: remember to inquire about tech support quality and availability.
- Think about format: Ebook readers come in PDF, MOBI, AZW (for Kindle), and LRF (Sony Reader), so you need to consider what kind of format the books you'll be buying come in, and if they'll match up.
Here you'll find places to download ebooks for various devices.
- Barnes & Noble eReader: This eReader application can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPod Touch, BlackBerry, PC or Mac.
- iTunes Audiobooks: Use iTunes to download popular and classic books for your iPhone or iPod.
- Palm eBook Store: If you have a Palm, head to the product's ebook store online, which hosts over 37,000 searchable titles.
- eReader.com: In addition to finding books, you can download the most current software for Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac and more.
- Find eBooks: Microsoft Reader: You can search for eBooks for your Microsoft Reader from here.
- The eBook Store from Sony: If you have a Sony Reader, browse categories like cooking, bargain-priced, philosophy, history, fiction and literature, and more to find ebooks.
- eBookMall: On this site, you'll find ebooks for different formats, plus reviews and software.
General Reading Tips
Make your reading experience more comfortable and efficient when you follow these tips.
- Give your eyes a break: The electronic ink on an eReader means that you'll strain your eyes less than if you were reading off an LCD screen, but you still need to take a break every once in a while.
- Turn off wireless if you want to read on an airplane: You can read your book offline on an airplane.
- Consider battery life: Make sure your battery is fully charged, especially if it doesn't have a long battery life.
- Fix glare yourself: Some reviewers complain that the Sony Reader is too vulnerable to glare, but you can find anti-glare accessories to fix the problem.
- It's better by the pool: You'll ruin it if you drop it in the pool, but one reviewer notes that his Kindle stood up better to random splashes than the paperback books of his neighbors.
- Get a cover: If you're feeling nostalgic for "real" books, get a protective cover for your Kindle that opens and closes like a real book.
- Explore: One of the best things about an ereader is that you can find all kinds of books that you might not even think to look for in a bookstore, and books that may not be carried in traditional bookstores.
- Keep a reading list: Re-order your reading list online so that you can check off books when you finish them.
- Be careful with your spending: It's easy to browse books and add them to your list, but remember that you're paying for all those titles. Make sure you really want to read a book before you pay for it.
Before buying titles, look for ways to read books for free.
- Consider audio books: Use an iPod or iPhone to listen to audio books, which may be free.
- World Public Library: There are collections for kids' books, world studies, Christian classics, Asian literature, and a lot more.
- Barnes & Noble Free Books: Barnes & Noble has a free ebook section here, including titles form James Patterson, Jules Verne, and others.
- Bibliomania: Get study guides and more for over 2,000 classic books, short stories, poems and plays.
- Use a meta search engine: eBook Searchr finds ebooks by searching over 340 book sites.
- Free-eBooks.net: You can read books online or access them in PDF or Mobipocket format.
- ManyBooks.net: ManyBooks.net lets you search books for PDA, iPhone or eBook Reader here.
- Get free documents and reference books: Use MemoWare to find reference books, novels, papers, reports and other reading material for ebook readers.
Below are tips and shortcuts for using the Amazon Kindle.
- Sync it with your iPhone: Kindle released an app that lets you read books on your iPhone that you've already downloaded on your Kindle.
- E-mail Word docs and pictures: You can e-mail word documents and images to your Kindle so that you can easily view them from anywhere.
- Internet doesn't work in all countries: Kindle's 3G extends to most European countries, but John Biggs recommends downloading your Kindle book onto your desktop and then dragging the book over to your reader via a USB cable if you're outside a network area.
- Choose it over a paperback: You might think a small paperback is more convenient than a long Kindle, but the Kindle is actually more lightweight than most paperbacks.
- Read blogs: You can read blogs on your Kindle through BlogLines or FeedJournal.
- Find the Kindle clock: Press ALT and T keys on the home screen to view the current time.
- Speak Menu Options: Kindle is adding two new options to help blind readers navigate the reader more easily.
- Save words you've looked up in the dictionary: Highlight a word and its definition to save it to My Clippings, where you can keep all of the words you need to reference.
- Get Google Maps and GPS: When your Kindle is in browser mode, you can access Google Maps and GPS.
- Hold down other keys to avoid pressing "Next page:": If you keep accidentally pressing the "next page" button, press any other keys as you hold your Kindle in place.
- You can now download PDF: The newest version of Kindle supports PDF documents.
- Use text-to-speech: If the book you're reading is approved for text-to-speech, you can rest your eyes and turn any download into an audio book.
- Access Gmail and Yahoo! mail or messenger: Use mobile versions of these applications so they'll work on Kindle.
- Go to Kindle Store: Just press ALT + home to get to the Kindle store and search for more books.
- Find out how much free memory you have left: Press the MENU button to find out how many more books you can download.
- Bookmark shortcut: Press ALT + B to add or remove bookmarks.
Sony Reader users will figure out how to sync their device with a Mac, import files to their PC, and more.
- Make your Reader and Mac work together: This tutorial will help Mac workers find out how to partially fix the incompatibly problem with Sony Readers.
- Use the batter for up to two weeks: One of the Sony Reader's best features is that its battery lasts for up to two whole weeks.
- Import files from your Reader back to your PC: You can save files to your eBook Library on your regular computer, too.
- Read Google Books on your Sony Reader: This Sony Reader PRS-500 owner discovered a hack to read Google PDFs on his ereader.
- Set bookmarks: Press the Mark button at the bottom left of your device to "fold" a corner of the page.
- Turn off audio for longer battery life: If you want your Sony Reader to last longer, make sure you turn off the audio player.
- Zoom: Zoom works at small, medium and large levels, but only at small and medium for PDFs.
Barnes & Noble Nook
The new Nook from Barnes & Noble is gaining a following due to its ability to share books and other features.
- Buy it at Barnes & Noble: If you want to buy a Nook, the only place you can get it is Barnes & Noble.
- Search over a million books: Through Barnes & Noble's network, you'll have access to over 1 million titles.
- Reading Now: Reading Now acts as a virtual bookmark to let you highlight, bookmark and annotate passages.
- Lend books: Unlike other ereaders, the Nook is licensed to let you lend books to friends for up to 14 days.
- Sample before you buy: Like the Kindle, the Nook allows you to preview books to make sure you really want to buy them.
- Get an extra memory card: If you don't want to delete any of your 1,500 books or periodicals, get a memory card for extra storage.
Here you'll find all kinds of tips and tricks for using the Microsoft Reader.
- Copy books to Windows Mobile: Follow this guide to transfer ebooks to your PC-connected Windows mobile.
- Disable auto pagination: Here you'll find tips for disabling auto pagination after you've already opened a book.
- Manage the eBook catalog: If your catalog is corrupted and gives you the error message "Microsoft Reader is no longer able to access this book," follow this guide.
- Microsoft Reader supports text, images, audio and HTML links: Plans to support streaming video are in place for future release.
- Sealed ebooks: Microsoft protects books from modification by sealing them.
- Inscribed ebooks: Another way to protect books from copyright and illegal sharing is to list the purchaser's name on an ebook's cover page.
- Read In: This new tool lets you create your own ebook content even with Microsoft Word 2002 or 2003.
- Drawings: With this tool, you can circle words and add scribbles to your book.
- Increase font size: Microsoft Reader lets you create large print editions.
- Notes: Add notes to your ebook's margins with your Microsoft Reader keyboard.
- Rotate and Resize: Choose to view your book in portrait mode, which fills up the whole screen, or landscape mode, which lets you view your Tablet desktop too.
- Customize your library: You can customize your homepage, or Library, by organizing books by date acquired, title, author, last read, or size.
- Riffle Control: Right-click the page number to turn the page or skip ahead to another page.
- Back up books before upgrading: To avoid erasing your books, back them up before upgrading software.
- Store annotations: Keep track of all your notes by storing annotations, bookmarks, drawings and highlights in one spot per book.
Here we highlight some accessories to help customize and protect your ereader so that it will last as long as you need it to.
- Screen protector: Keep your Kindle screen scratch-free with a screen protector.
- Get a light: When you want to read in bed, get an attachable light for your ereader.
- Book case: This protective case looks like a laptop glove and features an exterior pocket.
- Travel charger: Keep a travel charger handy so that you can read on the plane ride home, too.
- USB cable: For some ebook readers, you'll need a USB cable to work offline or move your library around.
- Cover: Keep a cover on your Kindle or ebook reader at all times to protect it from spills, splashes and scratches.
- Car adapter: When you're riding shotgun, you can charge your Sony Reader with this adapter.
- Screen cleaner: Keep your screen clean so that you don't have to strain to read each page.
- Rear cover: This accessory for the Nook replaces the back panel with a colorful hardshell.
- Matte Screen Film Kit: Another accessory for the Nook, this kit includes an anti-glare matte film and cleaning cloth.
Security and Protection
Keep your ebook reader safe, private and secure with these tips.
- Put it inside a dummy book: People will think you're just reading a regular book and not an expensive Kindle.
- Waterproof protection: Use a waterproof cover if you're reading at the beach.
- Don't show it off: Don't let your ego turn you into a target. Read your ebook reader as inconspicuously as possible.
- Take it with you to the restroom: Some people leave their laptops at the table when they use the restroom at a cafe, but ebook readers are even easier to swipe.
- Hide embarrassing books: Watch this CNET video to figure out how to hide the fact that you're reading embarrassing books when people want to check out your Kindle.
- Don't let strangers borrow it: You'll find that some people just want to hold your Kindle or ebook reader because they've never seen one before, but don't hand it out to strangers.
- Keep it safely away from drinks and food: Avoid the risk of spilling anything on your reader by keeping it away from drinks.
- Decrease font size: To keep others from reading your Kindle over your shoulder, decrease font size.
- Lock it up whenever you can: Ereaders are hot commodities these days, so be sure to lock it up in your desk, trunk or suitcase whenever possible.
From limits on downloads to personalizing your ebook reader, here are more tips for your ebook reader needs.
- Personalize your ereader: Some readers feel disconnected to the idea of ereaders because they don't have the same smell or feel of physical books. Customize it with accessories and make a point to remember each place you take your ereader to make if more personal.
- Watch out for downloading limits: Some Amazon books have limits on the number of times they can be re-downloaded, which can be a problem if you want to read the same book on different devices. Unfortunately, there's no way to check if you're approaching the limit, but just know that this is always a risk.
- Read copyright rules before downloading content: If you're downloading content directly from the web, make sure you'll be able to access it on your ereader legally.
- Take it to the gym: Take your ebook reader with you when you work out. Just make sure you never leave it unattended.
- Take it camping: Take your ebook reader camping if it has a decent battery life. Download ghost stories ahead of time if you're worried about losing a network connection.
- Join a book club: This blogger shares her experience with starting a child's book club with her Kindle.