Question of the Week
My friend from the USA gifted me a Kindle e-book from Amazon.com, but I cannot read it since I don't have the Kindle tablet. Please help.
-- Rinzin, Changangkha, Thimphu
Books makes wonderful gifts, and “a book is a gift you can open again and again”. Luckily, the same applies to e-books! So keep on reading, and you'll find out how you can open your e-book (again and again) even without a Kindle tablet. But first, what are e-books? An e-book - short for electronic book - is a file that contains text, and sometimes other media, such as photos and videos. There are various e-book formats. To read an e-book, you need an e-book reader that supports the format of your e-book. An example of an e-book format that you might be familiar with is PDF. Reading a PDF e-book is easy - you just use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (downloadable at get.adobe.com/reader) to open the file and view its contents.
E-books purchased (or gifted) on Amazon.com use the Kindle format. These files usually have the extension .azw. Amazon sells special tablets that can read Kindle e-books. Reading e-books on these devices is often a pleasant experience due to their special technology, and in particular a technology called electronic paper, which is a special display designed to mimic real paper. Electronic paper can be read in direct sunlight and is less strenuous on the eyes compared to a computer monitor.
Now for the good news: it’s not mandatory to own one of these devices to read your gifted Kindle book. Amazon avails free Kindle applications for PCs running Windows or Mac, as well as other devices such as iPhones and Android phones. These apps enable you to read Kindle books. Go to amazon.com/gp/kindle/pc to find these apps. You can even read Kindle books using a web browser using the Kindle Cloud Reader (go to read.amazon.com).
In addition to books available on Amazon and other retailers, tens of thousands of e-books are downloadable for free (and legally) on sites such as gutenberg.org and - my favourite - ManyBooks.net. You'll find all the classics there - from Jules Vernes to Shakespeare to Dickens. And the e-books are downloadable in various formats, including PDF and Kindle.
So while some people - including yours truly - still enjoy the whiff of a moldy hardcover, there is no denying that e-books have a few advantages: they don’t take space, they are instantly available, and they save plenty of trees. Like it or not, e-books are here to stay. Enjoy your new e-book!
Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org