The Kindle is the most popular e-reader currently on the market. As a result, most ebooks are available in the Kindle’s proprietary format accessible only to Kindle e-readers and Kindle apps. If you aren’t a Kindle fan, don’t worry. Different devices and different formats exist, giving you many alternative ways to read ebooks.
Choose a format
The epub format is the open ebook standard supported by most of the alternative e-readers. If an .epub file isn’t locked down, then it can be downloaded and used across any of these devices. Unfortunately, most ebooks purchased from the major online stores come locked down with Adobe DRM, meaning you are restricted to reading this book only on the device or account you used to buy it. Still, if you don’t want to invest in the Amazon ecosystem, the epub format is the best way to go.
Alternatives formats include PDFs and TXT files. The vast majority of ebooks sold in stores cannot be acquired in these formats, and they lack the easy formatting options that come with reading an epub on an e-reader or in an app.
Pick a device
For those who have a smartphone or tablet, getting access to ebooks is only a click away. The major booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony all have apps available for smartphones and tablets. Their apps automatically sync the books you’ve purchased from them across all of your devices, as long as you are signed into their services. iOS users also have access to iBooks sold from Apple.
You can also find alternative ways to read ebooks by downloading e-reading apps that aren’t tied to a major bookstore. The Aldiko app for Android has seen millions of downloads and allows you to read ebooks from many different stores. If Aldiko doesn’t tickle your fancy, you may be interested in the features offered in the Moon+ Reader or Cool Reader apps. iOS fans can consider checking out the Bluefire Reader or Stanza.
The ability to read ebooks from the comfort of your browser is a new trend sweeping the e-reading landscape. While Google Books has had this functionality for years now, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both jumped on board and allow online access to your personal libraries. This makes it easy for you to read wherever you are, even if you are stuck at work while your e-reader rests on your bedside nightstand.
Choose a store
eBooks can be found all over the Internet. Feedbooks is a bookstore with a wide selection of free and public domain material alongside a decent selection of current bestsellers. Smashwords and Lulu provide independent authors with a place to self-publish and distribute their creations. Project Gutenberg provides a massive selection of public domain material in a plethora of formats, including TXT and HTML. New initiatives such as StoryBundle provide regular exposure to new or independent authors. Occasionally even the Humble Bundle team will put out an ebook-centered bundle.
If you want to read ebooks without using a Kindle, there is no shortage of options. You only need to know where to find them. Most alternatives use the epub format, and this format is an open standard that you can feel comfortable knowing it will continue to be around for quite a while. The ebook market is a highly competitive market with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple, and Sony all competing heavily with one another. One benefit of reading ebooks as opposed to traditional books is the wealth of indie content available to choose from, whether its tucked away inside the stores of these major players or lurking within indie-centric initiatives such as Smashword and StoryBundle.
If you know of any alternative ways to read ebooks, please share them in the comments below.