Personal Finance

What You Need to Know About E-Reading

1. Look for big deals on the big three. You can now buy an Amazon Kindle, a Barnes & Noble Nook or a Sony Reader for $150 or less. Plus, if you were going to buy a tablet computer anyway, the Apple iPad ($500) and Motorola Xoom ($600) make excellent e-readers.

2. Read the small print. Some low-cost smart phones, including the Apple iPhone 3GS and Samsung Continuum, make decent e-readers. But you'll need e-reading software. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free apps to download for most major mobile devices. The iPad also comes with iBooks, a Kindle competitor. Want to read e-books on your PC? No problem: The leading e-reading apps are free for laptops and desktops, too.

3. No bargains on bestsellers. Most current titles cost $10 to $15 -- less than a hardcover edition and comparable to the cost of a trade paperback. You can find older titles that will set you back $5 or less, but to find free e-books, you'll have to work a little. Kindle users can browse the Top 100 Free eBooks list on or type "free Kindle books" in the Amazon search window. Barnes & Noble has a similar freebie page for Nook users on its Web site. Sony also has a free section for Reader fans, plus Sony has teamed up with Google to offer more than one million free e-books that are off copyright, which you can read on a PC as well. Project Gutenberg , Google Books, and Mediabistro 's free e-books page are also good resources.

4. Not all readers are created equal. You can't read Kindle books on competing devices or apps because Amazon's e-book format is proprietary. Most Kindle devices also support Adobe PDFs, however, while Apple, Barnes & Noble and Sony support ePub, an industry-standard format. (Unlike PDFs, the Kindle and ePub formats adjust text to fit different screen sizes.) The format matters if you plan to download e-books from Google eBooks' immense library (more than three million titles), which may be available in the ePub format or as PDF files.

5. Sharing e-books is tricky. You can't just pass along an e-book as you would a paperback. For example, you may lend a Kindle book only once, for 14 days, to another Kindle user, assuming the publisher permits the book to be borrowed. The Nook has a similar, one-time, two-week lending policy. New sites that let you borrow e-books from complete strangers are springing up, such as , and Lendle . The 14-day restriction still applies to books borrowed through these sites.

6. Go to the virtual library. Many local libraries will let you check out e-books, usually in the ePub format -- good news for everyone but Kindle users. Sony has a great site called Library Finder , where you can enter your state, province or zip code to find e-book-lending libraries near you. To get started, you'll need a library card and a free software program, usually OverDrive Media Console, to download titles. If your local library is Internet-savvy, it will provide step-by-step instructions for beginners.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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