There seems to me a number of issues emerging and I think we are just on the cusp of dealing with them.
• the first is - which device?
There are a number of e-readers available here in Australia, the commonest being the Kindle 6" (attached to Amazon),
the Kobo e-reader (attached to Borders),
the Kindle DX (this is the larger version),
the Sony e-book Reader (based on e-pub),
the Kogan e-book reader (available late August - and looks like it will support a very wide range of formats)
Then there are the devices like the iPad or the iPhone where an e-book reader is just one of the Apps.
And then there are computers/net books - you can download Kindle for PC for free, or Adobe Acrobat for reading pdfs or Adobe Digital Editions (epub), or the Borders application to your computer.
If you'd like to read more about any of these there is lots of information at http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/mod/forum/view.php?id=77812
• the second is – how do you obtain books?
If your device has 3G or wireless then you can connect directly to the online store, purchase an e-book through your previously set up account, and download that way.
Some devices (like the Kobo) rely on you being able to connect it to a computer and then using the online facility there.
Your computer will see most of the devices as an extra drive and you can load documents like pdfs directly onto to your device.
Most of the e-book readers now handle “native” pdfs quite well, but I’ve found it depends on the format and layout of the pdf and whether it has been locked in some way.
If you have an iPad or iPhone then you use iTunes to manage your downloads just like you would for music or podcasts.
Once you have purchased a book and have it on your device, you read it from there – it is stored on the device, and you no longer need to be online.
I’ll come back to this question later though: whether you own the book or just the right to read it?
• the third is – which format?
The main formats are
for Kindle - .azw (Amazon's proprietary format), .mobi, and pdf
epub - The EPUB format is a standard eBook format recommended by The International Digital Publishing Forum. It is essentially a ZIP format. It is the format used by Sony and Apple. EPUB is designed for reflowable content, meaning that the text display can be optimized for the particular display device used by the reader of the EPUB-formatted book. The format is meant to function as a single format that publishers and conversion houses can use in-house, as well as for distribution and sale.
Many of the non-Kindle devices are saying they can accommodate a range of these formats.
For example the Kogan e-reader says it will support PDF, CHM, EPUB, TXT, HTM, HTML, RTF, PDB, DJVU, DJV, IW44, IW4, FB2, OEB, PRC, MOBI, TCR, OPF
There is software available on the market now that allows you to convert files from one format to another providing the inbuilt Digital Rights Management (DRM) allows that to happen.
For example Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com/ and
Mobi Pocket Creator: http://www.mobipocket.com/en/downloadsoft/productdetailscreator.asp
Amazon has a free service that allows members to send a pdf for conversion to .azw – I have used it several times
Where the arguments seem to have got stuck at the moment is on the device issue - which seems to have boiled down into an Amazon/Apple war.
There's a comparative table here: http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=41823
This device war though is fast becoming a “bang for buck” war – Amazon has lowered the original price of Kindles considerably, and many are predicting that Apple will do the same for iPads, although their sales have been remarkable.
Many of the new devices coming onto the market are trying to beat these “big boy” prices.
The pundits are saying that Amazon is no longer making a profit on its devices – they are simply a means of getting people to buy books.