A Kindle is only for reading books

8 popular misconceptions about e-reading

25.07.2013Johannes Haupt (specialist editor) 24 comments

With the Kindle you can only read e-books bought from Amazon, with a Tolino or Kobo you don't tie yourself to a single company, and are e-books far too expensive compared to print? 8 popular misconceptions about digital reading

1. PDF is an e-book format

Countless text files in proprietary PDF format are available around the world, from documentation to specialist books. All current e-book readers support PDF files on paper, but in reality they do not support them well. PDFs are static and usually require a much larger screen diagonal than they have dedicated reading devices.

Functions such as PDF reflow are of no use when it comes to displaying more complex documents with tables and graphics. So you have to scroll and zoom within the pages - this is not fun on grayscale displays. Those who prefer to read PDF documents on the go regularly and on a regular basis are better off using a tablet or a laptop.

2. With the Kindle you can only read e-books bought from Amazon

"The Kindle devices have the disadvantage that you are bound exclusively to the online retailer Amazon. That means you can only buy your books there, in no other bookshop," said a Stiftung Warentest woman again yesterday, Wednesday in the ZDF morning magazine. That is wrong in this abbreviation.

In a number of ways, the Kindle is even more receptive to "third-party content" than supposedly open devices like Kobo. You can send files to your Kindle by e-mail, which are then available via the cloud on all readers and apps linked to the account (Kobo does not offer cloud storage space for external files). If desired, the files can even be converted by Amazon.

Of course, this only works with DRM-free literature; Amazon doesn't know what to do with Adobe copy protection for epub and PDF files. "Compatible" titles can be found in specialized e-book stores such as Beam, with providers such as Weltbild.de you should pay attention to the labeling. Copy protection-free titles are by no means the exception - number 1 on the bestseller list, Inferno by Dan Brown, is DRM-free from the publisher and can be bought as desired.

(Incidentally, this is by far not the only mistake in the ZDF contribution - so it says in the next sentence, e-books for other e-book readers than the Kindle can be borrowed from Skoobe.)

3. E-books purchased from Amazon.de can only be read with Kindle devices and apps

This reverse assertion is also nonsense, at least in this generalization. There are also countless DRM-free e-books on Amazon, including the current number 1 on the bestseller list there - the e-book can be easily converted into epub format using Caliber and browsed on Tolino & Co. DRM-free e-books can be recognized by the label "Simultaneous use of devices: No restriction" in the product information.

4. With "open" readers, you are not tied to a company

Presenting devices from the Tolino Alliance, Kobo or Pocketbook as an open alternative to the Kindle platform is a clever marketing move. If you look at the facts, there is not much substance left: De facto, you are only exchanging the Amazon copy protection for the Adobe copy protection and here too you are dependent on a single company (with which more providers cooperate, that's the only real difference) .

That doesn't detract from the real advantage that it's easier to switch e-reading platforms on Adobe devices. Nevertheless, you are subject to numerous restrictions, from the number of maximum downloads and limited availability to the further development of the Adobe platform, to which you are bound for better or for worse (if you leave DRM removal tools out).

5. Buy e-books

No. You usually acquire a clearly defined right to use the file, which is also clearly stated in the provider's terms and conditions. Among other things, this means that, unlike printed literature, the resale and rental of digital literature is not permitted and often not possible at all (keyword: DRM).

6. E-books are way too expensive!

Against the background of the listed restrictions on the purchase and use of e-books, but above all because of their non-physical form, the willingness to pay for e-books is significantly lower than for printed books. Due to the elimination of printing and sales costs, e-books should only cost publishers a fraction of the print books to produce and would have to be considerably cheaper than the currently usual 15-25% discount, so the argumentation. The supposedly outrageous prices often justify illegal downloads (motto: "It's your own fault").

In fact, the printing and logistics of the physical goods are only a small part of the total price. However, costs for production, marketing, the trade margin and, last but not least, the author's fee continue to be incurred. In addition, there is the higher value added tax (print: 7%, e-book: 19%), which amounts to a good euro for a book costing 10 euros. Knowing about it will not change anything in the subjective perception of the excessively high price, but it relativizes the image of the big, tantalizing publishers filling their pockets.

7. Indie writers just scrap / I know where I'm at with publishers

There is chaff and wheat on both sides, albeit in different proportions. While there are many self-publishers who have their e-books professionally edited and produced, e-books from large publishers in particular have hair-raising manufacturing errors - not to mention the content.

Publishing brands can undoubtedly provide orientation in the increasingly confusing digital world. Per se, they are no more a seal of quality than the absence of a publisher's name on a cover (for which there can be many reasons, not least monetary ones) means a sloppy work.

8. E-books have nothing to offer haptically

E-books have no cover pages and do not give off any paper odor. However, given the right leather or textile cover, the haptic feel is amazingly similar to that of a book (apart from the mostly lower weight).

Closely related to this misconception is the argument that you don't want to stare at a computer screen while reading (after a long day at work). Objectively, a few minutes of reading on an e-ink screen are enough to eliminate this; subjectively, the grayscale display naturally remains a display.

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