One thing that is abundantly clear from yesterday’s discussion of ebooks is that many people are still very unclear about the technology. To start with I would like to make a few things clear. When you buy an ebook from me:
- It is yours — you own it, and I can’t take it back
- You can lend it to your friends
- You can sell or give it to someone else
- Just like a paper book
- You can buy it anywhere in the world
- And you don’t need to buy a special device to read it on
Really, no special device? No, you don’t. The About Ebooks page at the store has a list of different free programs that you can buy to read an epub file on an ordinary computer, but today I’d like to tell you about another reading system that I’ve found since I wrote that page, and which I have come to think is the best option.
Ibis Reader is a web-based epub reading solution. You upload the books to the site, and can then read them anywhere using a web browser. That means you can read them on a PC, a Mac or a Unix machine; you can read them on an iPad, or on any other tablet or smartphone that has a web browser. The software works fine on all these platforms, though for the very small screens of smartphones there is an app alternative as well.
Although Ibis is a cloud-based solution, that doesn’t mean your books are trapped there. You own them and can download them at any time. It is more like an offline backup than a streaming service.
There’s no charge for using Ibis. All you need to do is sign up for a free account so that you have a login that will take you your library. Obviously it is an online service, so for people still on dial-up it is not a good option, but if you have a broadband account it will be fine. And again with the smartphones you can use the app and store books locally.
Ibis works with epub files, which are as close as we have right now to a standard. It does require that the files conform to the epub standard (yes, some publishers don’t bother to check) and are DRM free. All of the books I publish should be fine, and I’ll try to check all of the books in the store, though that will take time. Those of you who are comfortable with software can make epubs from other formats using Calibre.
The biggest obstacle I have found to getting people to buy from places other than Amazon is convenience. There’s that one-click option. But there is an interface for Ibis too. If you have an account, try this:
See, easy isn’t it.
What I need to do is to work out how to add that functionality to the store so that once you have bought a book you are presented with a link to load it into Ibis. As it is commercial store software I may not be able to do it myself, but I’ll work on it.