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Stony Brook University

eBooks: FAQ/ Glossary

a resource guide and pathfinder for eBooks

Access vs. Download

SBU Libraries provides you with access to eBooks from a variety of publishers and online collections.  All of our eBook titles are available for online access, but not all of them can be downloaded.  Accessing an eBook online means that you do not have to download it in order to read it.

Any computer, eReader, mobile device, tablet or smartphone that has wi-fi or network capabilities and a web browser can access our eBooks online.  A list of products includes:

  • Mac, PC workstation and laptop computers
  • iPads, Samsung Galaxy and other tablets
  • Tablet readers like the NookColor and the KindleFire

Read an eBook on . . .

An eBook Reader: A device designed primarily to read digital books.  Here's a list comparing ebook readers which includes previews of readers in development.   Guide to eBook Readers.

PDA's (Personal Digital Assistants): Includes smartphones/smart mobile devices.  Examples: the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus S, iTouch, iPad, and BlackBerry. There are many apps available for downloading to smartphones to read books.  Examples: Lexcycle Stanza (for iPhone), Aldiko, (for Android), Amazon Kindle(iPhone and BlackBerry) and Kobo's reader (for Android). 

Computers: Including PC's, Macs, desktops, laptops, notebooks, netbooks, etc.  Many apps are available to download to read ebooks on computers.  Examples:  Reader Library Software and Adobe Digital Editions (PC and Mac); Lexcycle Stanza (Mac and PC); Ibis Reader (PC, Mac, and smartphones), and theBlio Reader (PC).

Different devices will accomodate varying types of ebook formats and ebook reader apps.  For example, the Mobipocket file will display nicely on a PC and Kindle but not work on an iPad or Sony Reader. 

Also, 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 view a book from Amazon protected with Amazon DRM if the Amazon Kindle app is installed on the iPad.

That said, there are usually work-arounds.  Want to upload an ebook and it's not working?  You may be able to convert format using software like Calibre.  The discussion forums almost always have advice.

Portions of the text from the great guide created by the Auraria Library

eBook Glossary

Digital Rights Management (DRM): Technology that limits the use and duplication of copyrighted works. DRM may limit the number of times a file may be read, watched, or listened to; 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.

Display Technologies:

  • ePaper/Electronic Paper - Electronic Ink/ eInk: The newest generation ebook readers (including Sony, Nook, Kindle) are based on ePaper on which the text and pictures are displayed by eInk. Thus some ereaders enable thousands of pages of viewing without recharing.
  • LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) advantages: you get a more quickly refreshed screen, has color, can read in dark with no additional lighting. NookColor, iPad, tablet and notebook computers use LCD.
  • AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emiting Diode).  Beginning to replace LCD since the technology is brighter, thinner, faster, and lighter.  Also uses less power, offers higher contrast, and are cheaper to manufacture.  Use on many smartphones.
  • Pixel Qi.  Still new/coming, Pixel Qi (pronounced Chee) is said to rival eInk with its LCD mode that uses less energy, has color, can be read in sunlight, and will switch to ePaper-like mode.

eBook File Formats:

  • EPUB 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 Flash 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 (.AZM)  The Kindle proprietary file forman 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.  

Open Standard: file format that can be used by any company without paying royalties or licensing fees.

Proprietary: files format that can only be used by the creating company (example: Kindle), or, if that company permits, by third parties that have purchased a usage license.

Portions of the text from the great guides and reports created by the Monroe County Library System and the Auraria Library.