Tech Talk: E-Readers

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This week Bookselling This Week launches a new feature on all things tech related: e-readers, smartphones, mobile shopping, e-book marketing, social media, and more. We’d also like to hear your feedback and ideas for future stories.

This first Tech Talk installment provides an overview of common e-reader devices and their compatibility with Google eBooks™. This information is from an IndieCommerce presentation at Winter Institute 7 by ABA Technology Director Matt Supko, who summarized the advantages and disadvantages of popular e-reader devices.

Android Tablets & Smartphones

Android is available on a large group of devices, including tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and smartphones like Motorola Droid and Samsung Galaxy. It has a global userbase that’s growing quickly.

The Indiebound Reader is available in Android Market and includes an integrated store. The Google Books app, which features Google eBooks, comes preinstalled on most Android devices.

Compatibility Rating: 5 out of 5

iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch: Apple iOS Devices

The Apple brand is obviously entrenched and popular, and users love their apps. The IndieBound Reader and Google eBooks are in the App store, but they’re not integrated, so users will have to use their Safari browser to buy e-books from their favorite indie.

Compatibility Rating: 4 out of 5

Amazon Kindle (e-Ink)

The Kindle (e-Ink) device doesn’t support Adobe DRM and isn’t compatible with Google eBooks. Illegal, unauthorized methods of file transfer do exist, so be alert — if customers bring this up.

Compatibility Rating: 0 out of 5

Amazon Kindle Fire

The popular Kindle Fire isn’t officially compatible. It is an Android-based device, however, which means that, while it doesn’t support Adobe DRM natively, it’s possible to sideload Android apps, including IndieBound Reader, from outside of Amazon’s App store.

A number of good sideloading tutorials can be found if you Google "sideload kindle fire.”

Compatibility Rating: 3 out of 5

Nook (Tablet, Color, Touch, Original)

The Tablet and Color are Android-based systems, but sideloading is disabled. This means that the IndieBound Reader isn’t available without rooting. (Rooting means accessing the Android operating system directly to  allow the user to enable sideloading.) An easy way to do this is to install a Nook 2 Android microSD card, which, in addition to being easy to use, doesn’t void the Nook Color warranty and allows the user to run both Android and Nook OS. The N2Acards™ manufacturer also offers customer support.

The Nook offers native Adobe Digital Editions support, which means customers can read their Google eBooks on the various Nooks, but it will require some customer education. (For more on reading Google eBooks on Nooks, go here.)

Compatibility Rating: 3 out of 5

iRiver Story HD

The iRiver Story HD is an e-Ink device; adding content is via Wi-Fi only. iRiver has some distinct advantages: it is an easy-to-use device for customers, and it has native support for Google eBooks. A user’s Google eBooks library automatically syncs with the iRiver and the device links directly to the Google eBookstore.

Compatibility Rating: 4 out of 5

Other e-Ink E-readers (Sony Reader, Kobo…)

These are seen less frequently at indie bookstores than the devices above. Most have native support for Adobe Digital Editions, and most have their own integrated stores.

Compatibility Rating: 3 out of 5

To contact BTW about a tech story, tip, or topic you’d like to see covered, e-mail Senior Editor Karen Schechner or DM @KSchechner. If you have opinions on Pinterest, a proven way to build/monetize a Twitter/Facebook following, or ideas about Google+, please share them with us for possible stories.