The pitfalls of e-book buying

Ownership has some irritating downsides that require your attention before you hit the e-book purchase button.

By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World |  Mobile & Wireless, ebooks

Buying e-books sounds so easy, and using them seems so effortless. The books are a breeze to purchase, and you can easily store great numbers of them, especially if your e-reader has a removable storage card.

Not surprisingly, e-book sales are jumping. In fact, a report by Forrester Research predicts that sales of digital titles (and readers) will top $1 billion in 2011. And the New York Times this week started adding e-books to its weekly Best Sellers list.

As your collection grows, though, so does your need to manage the resulting virtual library. IF you aren't careful, you'll find yourself with books purchased on Amazon.com that are readable only on an Amazon Kindle e-reader, books purchased at Barnes & Noble that require a Nook e-reader, books purchased through Apple that are viewable only on the Apple iBooks app, and so on.

The issue of incompatible formats and the difficulty of organizing books that you buy from different e-book sellers are two things that you should consider before committing to a specific e-book platform.

Book Management

In the days of physical bookshelves filled with physical books, most people tended to organize their libraries haphazardly--perhaps by subject, perhaps alphabetically, perhaps by what size of books a particular shelf could accommodate. But with a little effort you could (probably) quickly scan your collection and walk away with the title you wished to read in short order.

Unfortunately, the lack of a universal bookshelf is a huge issue in the e-book world. Buy a book, and if you want to read it again three years down the line, you'll have to remember where and how you bought it.

A Google search reveals various software programs designed to "convert" e-books. But generally, such programs entail converting what you have into a PDFfile--and most types of e-reader software and hardware do a crummy job with handling PDFs.

Ultimately, what consumers need is e-books that they can buy and read anywhere, using any software they choose on any device they have at hand, whether it be a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a PC. No muss, no fuss. This issue is critical to library management and to the future success of e-books.

The concept of buy-anywhere content will drive the digital publishing industry, according to a new study from ABI Research. The flexibility of the multiplatform world established by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo has its good points, but consumers need more.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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