iPad Week: E-Books

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Q: Why are there so many different e-book readers for my iPad? How do they differ? And, which one should I use?

E-BOOKS FOR YOUR IPAD

The Kindle lit the fuse, but the iPad lit up the sky. E-books have suddenly become the hottest topic in publishing, and almost every publisher now has an e-book publishing plan.

You can get a variety of e-book reader apps for your iPad, including Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's eReader, and Lexcycle's Stanza. Here's the rub: Except for Stanza, each app is tied to one specific online bookstore, and you have to use that app to read your purchases from that store on your iPad.

Here's where and how to get books for the preceding e-book readers:

IBOOKS: Tap the app's Store button to browse the integrated iBookstore. For iBookstore purchases you use your iTunes Store account (which contains your credit-card information). Purchased books download to iBooks immediately. If you delete a book on your iPad (or on an iPhone that has the iBooks app), you can download it again for free.

KINDLE: Tap the Shop In Kindle Store button in the Kindle app, and it opens Safari on your iPad. When you purchase a book from the Kindle store, it's sent immediately to the Kindle-compatible device you specify. (First, of course, you must register each of your Kindle-compatible devices with the Amazon Web site.) If you have a Kindle Reader app on your PC, on your iPhone, and on your iPad, for example, you choose which device gets the book first. Don't worry, though: You can download purchased Kindle books to the other devices from within the app on each of those devices. Also, you can always download deleted books again.

EREADER: This app acts like a hybrid of iBooks and Kindle. You tap Add Books to browse the bookstore from within the eReader app, but when you select a book, eReader opens Safari for you to make your book purchase. When you purchase a book, it appears immediately in your eReader library. Note, however, that it isn't really there until you actually tap the book's cover to open it, at which time it downloads to your iPad. Barnes & Noble also provides a book-lending feature, so you can lend a book to a friend or family member for a limited time.

STANZA: Like eReader, Stanza lets you brose available books. Unlike the other apps, however, it provides access to several online bookstores. Because Stanza works with different bookstores, the process of getting a purchased book into the app can vary from store to store. You can browse the Fictionwise bookstore from within Stanza, for example, but when you tap a book to buy it, Stanza opens Safari for you to make your purchase. When the book is purchased, you can download it from within the Stanza app and unlock it (with your credit-card number) so that you can read it.

Stanza is the only e-book app that uses the file-sharing feature in iTunes, so you can drag books between your iPad and your computer. You can also share books between your computer and iPad wirelessly. Notably, Stanza is compatible with a much wider range of e-book formats than any of the other e-book apps.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Excerpted from THE IPAD PROJECT BOOK by Michael E. Cohen, Dennis Cohen and Lisa L. Spangenberg. Copyright 2011. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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