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Reading E-books without a Kindle or Nook

Updated on April 23, 2013

What at first seemed a mere fad has now to stay and become a staple in everyday life. I speak of e-books which have come to play an increasingly important role in the lives of avid, and not so avid, readers; and from all indications, the importance of this kind of reading material will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead. E-books present readers with certain advantages when compared with the traditional print book two of which come immediately to mind. First, e-books are considerably, very considerably, cheaper than traditional books with some titles retailing for less than a dollar! Just as the advent of the penny-press in the 19th century exposed increasingly large numbers of folk to a reading culture, the advent of the computer age in the last decades of the 20th century have provided a means for delivering reading content to ever increasing numbers of people at drastically reduced prices. Second, the compact nature of e-books and the increasing amounts of storage capacity that present devices offer, capacity that will almost certainly increase geometrically in the coming years, allows readers to own and store large numbers of books in a way that no one could even imagine just a couple of decades back. Amazon Prime membership, for instance, provides subscribers access to a lending library that has in excess of 200,000 books! One would be really hard-pressed to find such a diversity of choice at the local library.

As e-books have grown in popularity, specialized devices providing for the accessing and reading of the books have come onto the market such as the Kindle, which is offered by Amazon, and the Nook, which is offered by Barnes and Noble. But such devices are by no means cheap. A fairly basic device can set one back some seventy or more dollars and if one were to opt for some of the more sophisticated devices available, then we are talking prices that can easily run into several hundred dollars! So, how does one go about the accessing of the great wealth of reading material that the internet revolution has made available if he/she cannot or will not shell out for yet another costly device? Well, there’s hope. Just as there are more ways to killing a dog than hanging it, there also are more ways of reading e-books than by buying a Kindle or Nook device.

Your computer is the most obvious device to use for your e-book reading. There are options that allow you to utilize your web browser as a reader. Google’s Chrome web browser, for instance, has free apps that enable users to download and read e-books without the necessity for a dedicated e-reader. Google Play Booksand the Nook Reading App are two apps that can be downloaded for free from the Chrome Web Store and installed on the browser. Insofar as the user has a Google account or a Barnes and Noble account, then such user can download his/ books in the usual manner and read them directly in his/her browser.

Amazon account holders can make use of the Kindle Cloud Reader service. This is a website that syncs with a user’s Amazon account and allows one to read. So, once you have downloaded any Kindle e-book that you’ve purchased, you can start to read immediately. Because this service is a website, it can works with whatever web browser it is that you have installed on your computer.

Of course, one may not want to read on his/her browser. If that’s the case, not to worry; both Kindle and Nook have free standalone programs that allow you to read your e-book. All that is required is to download the application and install it on your computer. Once this is done, all you need to do is to browse through your purchased e-books and read away. A cautionary note: the Kindle application is not available for all locations so that you may find that you are unable to download if your location is one of those that are unsupported. I have no information in this regard concerning the Nook application. These programs are supported in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 as well as in Mac. A free e-reading application that has worked for me (for Kindle publications) is calibre e-book management software. Download, install, browse and it will open your Kindle or other e-publication.

Of course, one reason why one may choose not to buy a dedicated e-reader may be less a matter of money than a reluctance to add yet another device to the ones that one already carries about. Free apps for Kindle and Nook are available for the Apple iphone, the Apple ipod touch, android smartphones, the windows phone and the Blackberry that enable the reading of e-publications on these devices. Apps are also available for android based tablet devices, the Apple ipad and the Windows 8 tablet.

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