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eBook Technology: A Dictionary
DRM - Digital Rights Management:This is technology that purposely limits the use and duplication of copyrighted works. For example, DRM may limit the number of times an ebook may be read; what type and number of devices the file may be used on; and whether or not a full or partial copy can be made of the file. DRM-free titles are great - no restrictions!
Open Standard file formats can be used by any company without paying royalties or licensing fees.
Proprietary file formats can only be used by the creating company (example: Kindle), or, if that company permits, by third parties that have purchased a usage license. File formats include:
- EPUB is an open-standard file format for digital books and one of the most widely supported along with .pdf and .txt. An EPUB benefit is that it allows a books text to automatically adjust or 'reflow' to different screen sizes, including smart phones, netbooks, and ereader devices. EPUB ebooks also support embedded content, allowing, for instance, a video to be embedded within an ebook.
- PDF or portable document format, is an open standard file format created by Adobe Systems that can be read by most computers and is supported by most ebook readers. Like EPUB, it can display images. However, unlike EPUB, it does not support word-wrap around images.
- Plain Text (.txt). The "lowest common denominator" of open standard text files. It can be read by virtually all computers and most ebook readers but does not support images or digital rights management making it a poor choice for publishers who wish to block users from making unauthorized copies of their works.
- Kindle. The Kindle proprietary file format can only be read by Amazon's Kindle devices. However, software is available to read the Kindle format on virtually any other device including PC's, iPhones, iPad's, etc.
- eReader. eReader is a proprietary file format created by PalmMedia. The eReader format is used in conjunction with the EPUB format by Barnes & Noble's online ebook store for use with the Nook ebook reader. Software is also available to view eReader formatted books on most other devices/computers.
- BBeb. Short for Broad Band eBook, the BBeB proprietary file format was created by Sony and Canon for Sony ebook readers.
Read an eBook on...
Read an eBook on....
eBook readers: devices designed primarily to read digital books.
Mobile devices: such as smartphones and tablets. eBook reading apps are usually available for download to optimize reading on the device.
Computers: including PC's and Macs, a variety of desktops and laptops, tablets, etc. Apps are also available to download to read ebooks on computers.
Note: Different devices will accommodate varying types of ebook formats and ebook reader apps ideally or not-so-ideally. For an ebook reader device to display an ebook, both the file format and DRM must be compatible with the ebook reader. So, for example, an iPad can only (theoretically!) view a book from Amazon protected with Amazon DRM if the Amazon Kindle app is installed on the iPad.
Photo Credit: Amazon Kindle on the Beach
Adobe Digital Editions
Adobe Digital Editions
Many of the ebook vendors supply books that can be downloaded and read through the freely downloadable Adobe Digital Editions software.