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Your Summer Reading at Your Fingertips

March 27, 2015 - Written By Chris Yackulic

Getting a jump on your summer reading? Make it easier by getting e-reader savvy and you can save a bundle. Get to know formats, what apps fit with what type of readers, and more. Whether you’re reading a book for class, doing research, or using an e-textbook, learning what formats work with Apple’s iOS, Android, and even Windows can beat even Amazon’s delivery time.

Book Smart

Whether you’re looking for your first e-reader, upgrading to a more advanced model, or expanding the abilities of your current tablet with more features, you’re about to find out what a great thing it is to have access to millions of books. E-reading is on the rise, with Pew Internet calculating in a recent poll that one in three adults read an e-book in 2014, while 50 percent own either a tablet or an e-reader. As the market shakes out, e-book sellers and publishers are figuring out that appeal in the market is not determined by a narrow format, but instead by putting out a range of formats that all e-readers and tablet users can handle. While a proprietary lock might keep customers who own a single format e-reader in the house, tablet and mobile device users have heretofore been left out in the cold. However, as e-book sales climb to nearly $7 billion as projected by Statista, the market is being determined by what options readers are demanding.

Bibliophile Tech

Android, Apple, and Windows device users may not necessarily want to buy a dedicated e-reader. Desktop and laptop users often feel the same way. Lugging around a bag full of devices can be as tiresome as lugging around a bag full of books. Keeping all your devices charged and trying to remember what was being read on which device can be a problem, too. Were you reading this on your Android phone or on your iPad? Can you switch what you were reading to your laptop or desktop? Hooking up with the right program like the NOOK ebook reader app means that your device can be a NOOK, even if it’s an iPad, Android, or Windows OS. 

Format, Format, Who Has What Format?

There is a bewildering variety of formats available for ebooks, some more popular than others. Some will help you convert open source file types to proprietary extensions, while others will allow you to read in the original format. Some extensions you should look for according to Edudemic are:

AZW: Say hello to the 800 pound gorilla. Amazons proprietary file format can be used only on a Kindle device, or with the Kindle app.

  • EPUB: This is an open format based on XHTML and XML. It can be opened and read on virtually any device or converted to a readable proprietary file format.
  • LIT: Content in LIT form was discontinued in 2011, but there are still exiting publications out there that use the extension originally developed for the Microsoft Reader.
  • MOBI: Originally for MobiPocket Reader, the XML based extension is limited in functionality, but as with LIT, there are publications that are not available in any other format.
  • ODF: This is an acronym for Open Document Format, the default format for the MS Office alternative called Open Office. Based on XML, it has more functionality than MOBI.
  • PDF: Adobe Acrobat’s files are extremely popular as there are a number for freeware apps that allow them to be read without conversion to another format. However, without conversion, Acrobat files can become unreadable on smaller screens like smartphones or smaller seven inch tablets.

Adding a reading app to the stable of apps on your device or computer is a great way to find new knowledge, study ahead of the school year, or just make the commute more interesting than sitting with your forehead pressed against the window. Access magazines, newspapers, books, audiobooks, music and even video formats or streamed content with swish and tap. There are even children’s e-reader apps that let parents refine the delivery of content to tots and teens, with parental controls to keep them from blowing wads of cash on in-game purchases for the latest Kardashian app. For students, the textbook world has long been an exchange of cash for the privilege of throwing  one’s back out before middle age, and then being stuck with the books when a new edition is issued. Using e-textbooks where and when available is a way to keep up in class, save a little money, and a lot of muscle strain. Even high schools are adopting the format for textbooks and reading assignments – bypassing ancient and battered textbooks and shortages at the local library. Expanding reading horizons of all ages is as close as a downloadable application, whether you’re reading for school, work, or just for your own enjoyment.