The main reasons for many readers to switch to e-book readers are probably the space savings in their home bookshelves and the low weight of the devices: With an e-book reader, you can easily carry hundreds of digital books around with you. Unlike smartphones or tablets – on which you can also read e-books – e-readers offer a very special reading experience due to their special display: the monitor looks almost like a text printed on real paper when you read it. In addition, the consumer can set the font size and often the font himself and thus read, for example, without glasses despite poor eyesight.
- The reader for e-books (electronic books).
- The specialty is the display, which enables a reading feeling like on real paper.
- Buyers have to consider the different formats of the different providers.
The heart of an e-reader: the display
E-book readers have an e-ink display, i.e. they work with so-called electronic ink. This ensures that the text appears as if it was printed on paper. It is also the reason why e-readers can mostly only display gray levels. This is how e-ink works:
- A multitude of small spheres float in a transparent liquid. These are colored either black or white and are positively or negatively charged.
- When turning the pages, a field of tension is created and either the white or black balls are on top and thus represent the writing.
How does the e-book get onto the e-reader?
Since e-books only exist in digital form, you must first purchase and download them from the Internet. Interested parties can do this on the computer and then transfer the e-book file to the e-book reader, for example via a cable. Some e-readers are also internet-capable themselves – but often only via WLAN.
Are e-books cheaper than printed books?
The average price of e-books is well below that of printed books. Due to the fixed book prices, new publications usually cost the same or a similar amount. However, many completely free e-books lower the average price. Because, above all, many classics are free, as copyright expires after 70 years. In addition, many as yet unknown authors publish their works independently of the publisher and also offer these e-books either free of charge or for a very affordable price in order to attract readers’ attention.
The formats of e-books
Unfortunately, not all e-books have the same format and cannot be read on every reader. These are the most common formats:
- The standard format is EPUB. Most e-book readers use this format.
- Amazon uses its own format: .AZW or .AZW3.
- Other formats include .MOBI, KF8 and .PRC. However, these are either outdated or less common.
- Many e-readers can also display PDFs. However, the text does not adapt to the reading devices like an e-book, since a PDF always has a fixed layout.
In principle, it is possible to convert e-books in EPUB format into AZW format with special programs (for example the free “Caliber”). However, this is only legally unobjectionable for e-books without copy protection.
The copy protection of e-books
In addition to the formats, the copy protection also differs. Almost all e-books and e-readers that use the EPUB format use the copy protection provided by Adobe DRM (Digital Rights Management). If this is the case with your own e-books, you need to create an Adobe account in order to be able to use the e-books you have purchased with your Adobe ID. It’s free and is simply a necessary step in setting up the e-reader.
Amazon has its own copy protection for its e-books. Since this comes from Amazon itself, you only need an Amazon account to read the e-books.
Kindle or Tolino: two e-reader worlds
Those interested in buying an e-reader must consider these different formats and the associated restrictions. Because anyone who buys a Kindle reader can only purchase suitable e-books from Amazon. The second major e-reader brand is Tolino, from the so-called “Tolino Alliance” (consisting of Hugendubel, Thalia, Weltbild and Rakuten, among others). Both the Tolino devices and other e-book readers (such as those from Kobo or Sony) use the EPUB format uniformly. If you want to switch between a Kindle and an e-book reader from another brand at a later date, you cannot simply take your e-books with you on the new device.
What are the advantages of Kindle?
The number of e-books published by as yet unknown authors is very large at Amazon – and with it the selection of particularly cheap books.
Amazon offers an e-book flat rate: users can read as many books as they want for a fixed monthly price.
What are the advantages of Tolino and Co.?
Thanks to the free format, you are not tied to a specific shop when purchasing e-books. A later change of the e-reader brand is also no problem.
The Onleihe (digital lending platform) of the public libraries requires compatibility with the EPUB format as well as the copy protection DRM from Adobe and is therefore not possible with a Kindle. A library card at a public library is required for use. In terms of price, the online loan is usually well below an e-book flat rate.
Which e-book reader is right for me?
Before buying an e-reader, potential buyers need to make a good comparison and consider the system of different formats and copy protection. In addition, there is something for everyone at Amazon as well as the Tolino Alliance and other e-reader providers – from cheap and simple e-readers to cost-intensive devices with a wide range of options and features. Technically, the devices of the big brands Kindle and Tolino usually only differ slightly.