We assume that most, but not all, readers who visit us here at Pinbeam Books will have an eReader, quite possibly a Kindle or a Nook.  Some may be reading electronic books on other hand-held devices, such as a smartphone; or on their desktop computer screens.

However, we also assume that we will have visitors who are completely baffled by this whole electronic book business, would like to experiment, but don’t know where to start.

Thus, a short course.

If you have a Kindle, you probably already know that it reads a variation of .mobi electronic files.  The Nook reads ePub files.  Both are very well established eReader platforms.   What this means is that you may download ebooks compatible with your reader not only from the Kindle or Nook Stores but from Project Gutenberg, and, yes, Smashwords and Webscriptions, among others.

It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway.  Always be careful of your vendor.  If a site offers contemporary novels and stories for free, and only for free?  It’s probably a pirate site.  You don’t want to download books from pirate sites because, frankly, you don’t know where the files have been, or whether they might include viruses.

There are legitimate sites offering free material — some established publishers offer free books, as a clever plan to get you to buy other books from them.  And, as mentioned above, Project Gutenberg, which has a long and proud internet history of making out of copyright works available to the public.

Be careful, is what we’re saying.

For those who don’t have an eReader, who would like to experiment, but don’t want to put down a hundred dollars or more to play, there are free eReader applications, which are perfectly safe.

Think about it.  Amazon wants you to buy a Kindle, yes, but they also want you to buy Kindle ebooks.  So are they going to make it easy, and offer you a free Kindle app for the device of your choice?  Of course they are.

Barnes and Noble very much wants you to buy Nookbooks from them, and so they offer free Nook apps.

Kobo also offers free apps.  Kobo reads ePub files, as do Apple products.

Don’t want to mess with installing a whole new application on your phone or desktop?  Fine; you don’t have to.  The multiformat sites offer rtf, pdf, html and other formats that mean you can read ebooks if you have a word processor on your computer, or directly from a web browser.

Pretty convenient, really.