What type of book file do I need?
E-books come in two types of file: ePub and Mobi.
If you buy your e-books direct from the same company that made your reading device, such as Amazon, iBooks, or Kobo, you never usually have to worry about which type of file you should download. They just appear on your e-reader, mobile app, or tablet after you've bought them.
But if you want to buy e-books from independent bookshops you'll need to know what format to use. Many independent shops will provide a selection of file types with every purchase, others will ask you to choose one particular format.
You'll usually have a choice between ePub or Mobi.
- If you have a Kindle, choose the Mobi format.
As well as its own Amazon-only format, the Kindle can also display Mobi books.
- If you have any other reading device, choose ePub.
Almost every e-reader and e-book app, other than Kindle, can display ePub books.
DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a way of locking an e-book to work only on a particular device or to limit its use.
The main reason given by publishers for using DRM is to protect against piracy. This may sound quite innocent and sensible, but does raise a number of consumer rights issues.
DRM'd e-books locked to a particular device, such as a Kindle, can't be moved to a different make of device if you decide to switch. You can't read e-books you bought from Amazon on a Kobo or Nook, and you can't gift them to a friend.
Adobe runs another type of DRM, and most DRM'd books outside of Amazon use this. Without an Adobe ID - for which you hand over your personal details - you can only read most DRM'd e-books on the first device you download them to.
In effect, you never really own books locked with DRM - you only licence them.
Fortunately, not all e-books are locked with DRM. Many publishers and authors choose to sell e-books that are DRM-free. With DRM-free e-books, no matter what device you choose to use, you'll always be able to read the books you have bought, as long as you keep them somewhere safe.
There are a number of online bookshops that sell DRM-free e-books. We've compiled a list of them here:
How do I read my e-books?
You can read e-books on a huge variety of devices.
First, get your ePub or Mobi file on to the device you want to read it on. In most cases, you'll connect your device to the computer you downloaded the book to, using an USB cable, then move the book file to the correct place on your device.
E-reading devices vary, so here are some starting points for the most popular ones:
If you're using a dedicated e-reader, like a Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or Sony Reader, you'll able to read your book immediately. Otherwise, you should choose some suitable software.
Here is an extensive list of software to suit whatever device you may be using:
Where can I store my e-books?
Now that you have the actual files for your e-books, you need to keep them safe.
You can keep them on your reading device, on your computer, or backed up on an external hard drive or USB stick. You might even decide to store them online, such as on Dropbox or Google Drive.
Another option is a paid service we've developed, called Libreture.
Libreture provides e-book storage for hardcore readers.
Upload your DRM-free e-books, organise your reading lists, and discover great new titles.
Specially designed to support DRM-free e-books, Libreture keeps your books safe, lets you arrange them into reading lists, and download them directly to any reading device whenever you like. You can also use it to keep track of where you bought each book, and even share that information with others.