Michelle Isenhoff

Reading eBooks on Your Personal Computer – PDF, EPUB, MOBI and JavaScript

Digital ebooks are capturing a larger share of the book market each year, and for good reason. Millions of titles have gone digital, and many new authors make their work available only in digital formats. Ebooks are widely available, highly portable and they cost only a fraction of print editions. And did you know you don’t even have to invest in a pricey gadget to take advantage of this new technology? Lots of options are available for downloading, storing and reading ebooks on your own PC. Here are just a few examples.
Portable Digital Format (PDF) produces an extremely sharp image for PC viewing and has excellent navigation tools to maneuver through your ebook. In addition, the format’s rigid page-structure–detrimental to smaller devices–works wonderfully on a computer’s full screen. You can download the software from Adobe for free.
Ebook are widely available in PDF. I have titles on Lulu and Smashwords and I know both offer PDF downloads. A quick Google search turned up tons of other sites as well. On the downside, PDF files can take up a lot of memory space, so accumulating a library would evenutally bog down your PC.
EPUB (electronic publication) seems to be the mostly widely used format. Nook uses it, as well as the Sony and Kobo readers, so a vast choice of ebooks are available at convenient websites, like megastore BarnesandNoble.com and a thousand others. If your computer is equipped with an app to read in EPUB, you have many, many options.
The Bookworm Online ePub eBook Reader is just such an app. It’s free; all you have to do is sign up. Then any ebooks you purchase and download to your PC can be uploaded to and stored on your Bookworm library and read via your browser, allowing you to free up memory space.
Adobe Digital Editions is another free and easy-to-use option for reading EPUB files. Once the software is installed, it will open  EPUB ebooks for you automatically, no browser required.
The Amazon Kindle uses its very own file format, MOBI (mobipocket). This incompatibility is rather inconvenient, yet Kindle has an amazing store. And now Kindle ebooks are available for the PC. Visit the Kindle website for the free software download. Then with one click you can choose from over 900,000 titles and have them sent straight to your PC.
JavaScript is another option.  It’s built right into your web browser, so no software downloads are necessary. Honestly, I don’t know much about JavaScript, but I mention it because every title on Smashwords is available in it, and when you download one it opens instantly with your web browser, no work required.  Super convenient. I’ve opened my own books with it, and they read very nicely. But I don’t know how widely titles are available outside Smashwords.
Even if you don’t want to spend the money on a mobile gadget, the instant world of ebooks is only a few clicks away on your own PC. I’ve only scratched the surface of possibilites.  If you know of other formats or apps or websites, let us in on the know!

Reading eBooks on Your Personal Computer – PDF, EPUB, MOBI and JavaScript

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