Tag Archives: eReading

Tutorial: How to Sideload eBooks from Smashwords to Nook, Kindle

Smashwords.com is a great source for a free or inexpensive ebook downloads.  However, getting them from the website and onto your Nook or Kindle requires a USB connection and can be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before.  This process is called sideloading, and both devices use a very similar method.  Here’s how to do it:

First, purchase your book through the site’s checkout.  Immediately afterwards, you will be given a link to the book’s page.  Click on it and scroll down to the listing of available formats.  (Nook is compatible with EPUB; Kindle needs MOBI.)  Click “download” beside the format you need.  A dialogue box will pop up asking if you’d like to open or save the file.  Click “save.”  Another box will pop up.  In this box, you can rename the file if you’d like, and you’ll certainly want to choose a destination so you can locate it later.  (I created an ebooks folder for this purpose.)  Click “save.”  If you forget to specify a destination and lose your new file somewhere in your computer, you can download again at no cost.  Simply return to the book’s page on Smashwords.

Now that you have successfully download your ebook to your computer, you must attach your USB cord to your ereader then plug it into your computer.  Your ereader will appear as an additional drive.  Next, simply locate your ebook and drag it into the documents file of your Nook or Kindle drive.

Viola!  You have sideloaded your ebook.  Unplug your ereader and happy reading!

Need more help?  Here’s a video tutorial for Nook.

Ratburger Salad, by David Elvar, eBook Review

ratburger saladRatburger Salad, by David Elvar, is not the kind of book I prefer. I like a powerful, dynamic main character, depth of emotion, metaphor, a setting so intrinsic you can feel it. Ratburger Salad has none of these things. But personal preference aside, let me tell you what this book is.


Alex Bristow and his three best mates do NOT want merits in cookery class. It would ruin their whole image. So, with the help of a most unlikely comrade and a GIRL (heaven forbid!) they come up with the most cockamamie plan to thwart their teacher. I’ll let you find out for yourself if they succeed, but be prepared for chuckles the whole way.

First, being American, I enjoyed the European flavor of words like “telly,” “merits,” “mum,” and “skive.” Words I don’t run across often outside of Harry Potter and old James Herriot tales. My favorite cultural discrepancy, however, was when the boys compliment a young lady (insincerely, of course)by saying she looks like a million pounds. (Think money, Yanks.) And this made her happy! Across the pond, you tell a girl she looks a million pounds and she’ll clock you right back into Europe!

I have no argument with Mr. Elvar’s writing abilities. While his plot isn’t exactly jammed full of fast-paced action, he drives it along with masterful dialogue.   And with colorful word choices like “bunging,” “sidling,” and–love this one–“ghastly.” His writing never dallies, never grows stagnant. Also, he treats us to a bit of tasty foreshadowing.

We get the whole gamut of low class meets high class, girls against boys, brothers versus sisters, students against parents, and children in conflict with parents. He does a nice job of working out differences between the local fellows and the boy from the next school over and imparts a few moral lessons along the way. And with poignant irony, our four heroes dodge cookery class by implementing a plan that requires sewing!

What really makes this story a winner, however, is Mr. Elvar’s ever-present wit. He makes very effective use of repetition to drive home his humor. Consider the following example: “One thing they had discovered long ago was the staff intelligence network. Another thing they had discovered long ago was a healthy respect for it.” The book is also smash full of droll one-liners like, “It’s a lousy job having a sister, but somebody’s got to do it.” And kids, in particular, will appreciate the creative nicknames the boys come up with for their less-than-appreciated teachers.

Overall, even though it’s not my style, I’d have to say kudos, Mr. Elvar!

Ratburger Salad is available at Smashwords.com.

Anna of Byzantium, by Tracy Barrett, Book Review

thumbnailIf you enjoy historical fiction, pick up a copy of Tracy Barrett’s Anna of Byzantium. Ms. Barrett is primarily a writer of non-fiction, but she delivers a solid, fictionalized account of Anna Comnena, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor. Her writing is smooth, logical, and easy to follow.

Set in the time of the Crusades, young Anna has been named heiress to her father’s throne despite the birth of her younger brother. But when her grandmother–the real power behind the crown–realizes Anna will never allow herself to be manipulate, she connives to have her grandson declared heir instead. Anna loses everything: her empire, her future husband, and her father’s respect. But Anna is patient…

Ms. Barrett has developed a cast of strong characters, especially Anna and the two sharply-contrasting women who vie for the Emperor’s ear–his wife and his mother. The plot moves along quickly, with plenty of action and intrigue, and the plot is beautifully enriched with metaphor. For example, the ongoing battle of wits between Anna and her grandmother is effectively portrayed as a chess game. And Simon, Anna’s cautious tutor, compares Anna’s schemes to the deeds of mythological and historical characters, especially Icarus, whose wings melted when he disobeyed his father. “Don’t fly too close to the sun, Little Beetle,” he tells her.

Ms. Barrett’s one drawback is a lack of artistry. Her story, while meaty and well-written, reads like a non-fiction account. Without the sensory details that make a setting come alive, I never experienced the world in which Anna lived. Also absent are the creative word pictures and lyrical prose that make language beautiful. Ms. Barrett simply doesn’t display a magic touch.

Even so, Anna of Byzantium is engaging and powerful and well worth a read. Ages 10+

eBook File Formats

During the last few years, ebooks sales have been on the rise.  This is true in part because downloads are far cheaper to produce than print editions, therefore, they are priced much lower.  But ebooks are also gaining popularity because of the variety of apps and devices available on which to read them.  And each device requires a different ebook format – many of which are available on Smashwords.com, an online ebook retailer and distributor.

I published on Smashwords and had a whale of a time trying to figure out which format matched which ereader, because I couldn’t find a succinct list.  I suspect there are others out there interested in producing or downloading ebooks who are having the same difficulty, so I will attempt to clarify what I have learned based on the formats offered by Smashwords.  I’m sure this list will not be exhaustive, so feel free to comment.

The EPUB format seems to be the most widely used.  It is compatible with the Barnes and Noble Nook; the Apple iPad; iPhone and iPod Touch; the Bookeen Cybook Opus; Sony Readers; the Bookworm Online ePub eBook Reader, a free online platform usable with any web browser;  the Kobo eReader; the Elonex eReader; iRiver Touch eReader; and the BeBook readers.  Apps include: ibisReader; Aldiko for Android devices; Stanza, for Windows, Mac, and the iPhone; Book Glutton: The Unbound Reader, for any computer with an internet connection; FBReader for many devices; Calibre; and Azarti.

MOBI for the Kindle and the MobiPocket Reader.

PDB for Palm reading devices.

LRF for older Sony Readers.

Besides the above, Smashwords makes available several formats compatible with most computers, including PDF, RFT and Plain text, as well as HTML and Javascript for online viewing over most web browsers.

If you have any of the above-mentioned devices or even a laptop or desktop, you can download ebooks from Smashwords.  You’ll find thousands of categorized books generally priced at $3.00 or less.  Many are FREE!  All you have to do to start reading is sign up for a free account.  And once you purchase an ebook, you can download it as many times as you like, in multiple formats.

If you don’t have any of the fancy apps or devices but can view from a computer, I’d recommend the easily-readable PDF version.  If you have a computer with a web browser, JavaScript is nice, too.  DON’T order Plain text or HTML; they lack formatting.  And RTF doesn’t seem to transfer complete formatting during conversion, so steer away if possible.

So, now you’re armed and dangerous.  Log on to Smashwords and start your ebook library today!