Ebooks, Independent Presses, and Independent Bookstores

Dear Reader:

Many of you are intrigued by ebooks but concerned about their tendency to lead us to buy only from one big conglomerate (Amazon – kindle) or chain (Barnes and Noble – nook). If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I love my kindle, but I definitely share your concerns.

When I did my piece on kindle versus ipad versus hard copy book I mentioned that you can get (millions?) of free books that are in the public domain and read them on your kindle or nook. A good place to find some of them is at Project Gutenberg.

Of course, you can also get them at Amazon and, I believe, Barnes and Noble (if you have a nook). You can also get them at Google Books.

I also mentioned that Powell’s – the great, independent bookstore(s) in the Portland, Oregon area, sells ebooks readable using the Adobe Digital Reader software that you can download for free onto your PC or Mac.

Powell’s ebooks page (at time of writing, they are having a big 99 cent ebook sale)

I had bought a number of ebooks from Powells because they are one of my favorites and I wanted to support their sale of ebooks. At that time, I could not read these books on my ipad, much less my kindle.

Good news! There is a new app out for the ipad (or iphone) called Bluefire that allows you to read Adobe Digital Reader books on your ipad. Of course, you buy it through the app store on your ipad or iphone or touch. But here is their website:

Bluefire App’s webpage

If you want to download the free Adobe Digital Reader software, you can do so by following the link. This allows you to read Powells and other presses’ books on your pc or mac if you don’t have an ipad.

Adobe Digital Reader software looks like this:

Adobe Digital Reader software – my library

Here’s a screen grab of a #55 (ADE) Jon Katz’s The New Work of Dogs that I’m reading from my Adobe Digital Reader library (above) using the Bluefire app on my ipad:

Jon Katz’s The New Work of Dogs (#55)

I could have it open to two pages at once. I confess that I’ve read some books using the software on my big imac screen, but I don’t like it. So, now that I have Bluefire, I’m reading this book on my ipad and it is OK. (the reading experience, not the book – the book is great, look for another post on this.) I still prefer my kindle or a paper book to reading on my ipad.

For instance, University of Chicago Press sells ebooks readable in Adobe Digital Reader and in Bluefire AND they offer a free one every month if you sign up for their email notice (I did and I only get one monthly email telling me about the availability of my free book) – sign up here. Here’s a screen grab of their website:

University of Chicago Press ebooks

I also want to note that one of my favorite independent presses and all around dog-stuff sources, Dogwise, also sells an array of excellent dog-related ebooks. This is the best dog-related press (frankly I don’t know if there are others) around – they have an amazing array of terrific books on every topic, especially, lots of great training-related books by some of the world’s best dog trainers.

Dogwise’s ebooks

You can read these on a computer, an ipad, a kindle (I confess I was unable to figure out how to do this, but I’m sure I could with a bit more effort).

Finally, let me mention the US’s main high level, policy-oriented scientific press, National Academies Press. They recently made ALL their books available for free in pdf format – this is readable on almost anything – computers, ipad, kindle etc. etc. These are fairly intense treatments of all kinds of issues, not necessarily bedtime reading, but they are excellent, unbiased sources and it is really exciting that they are now free in electronic format.

National Academies Press

So, as you see, you can actually support independents AND read ebooks – it takes a little more work, but it is doable. And it is just going to get easier – both for acquisition and for user friendliness.

Do you know of independent presses or bookstores that are selling ebooks? Please let me know in the comments!

Happy reading, Ruby

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