I am thinking about buying a kindle paperwhite. I have a fair number of e-books in Calibre, curtesy of a friend, but will the paperwhite accept these books? (they are in MOBI format but can be changed) Amazon has a reputation for being ringfenced and locked down, so I wondered if anyone had bad experiences with Kindle paperwhite.
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Kindles use a modified MOBI format so most, if not all, e-books in MOBI format can be read on the Kindles.
The Kindles are notorious for their garden wall (ringfenced, as you put it; I like that term). It's the books themselves that Amazon sells for Kindles that are often locked down. Most are infested with DRM that prevents them from being read on readers other than Kindles or a Kindle app and often prevent copying. The Kindles themselves will not read e-books that have DRM from another publisher (such as e-books from Barnes and Noble). The chances are a Kindle will be able to read the books you already have. Amazon also has a large selection of free e-books that changes daily.
Actually, none of them since the DRM is attached to the book, not the reader. Most readers will read EPUBs, which is the most popular non-Kindle format and MOBI (which is used by Kindle books in a modified form). The only way to be abe to read any vendors books on any reader is to strip DRM, which is tricky and has questionable legality (technically, it is illegal to strip DRM yet DRM violates fair use; most recent court decisions have been favorable for stripping DRM in certain situations, such as denial of use by a legitimate user). Even trickier is, often, you do not buy the e-book; you are buying a license to use the e-book. In its current state, the e-book industry is a mess and in turmoil due to DRM. To learn more about it, browse through these forums, especially the first two, rather than "listen" to me rant about it here.
A tablet comes as close as anything since Amazon (and B&N, I think) have apps you can install on them to allow reading their books. Cell phones with large screens can usually have apps installed on them, as well. The downside to that approach is the devices have battery life in hours instead of the days or weeks of e-ink readers. I use an e-book reader that uses a reflective LCD screen (less power hungry than backlit LCDs) and even it has a battery life of only 15 to 20 hours but it uses four AA batteries that I can easily change out in the field (all other e-book readers use non-changeable proprietary batteries).
I usually recommend Kindles and Kindle books to most people because it gives them the easiest way to get the best selection of books and are least likely to become obsolete (another potential evil of DRM). I personally do not like the Kindles (too bulky) and I have issues with DRM so, until I decide to strip DRM, I will not buy Kindle books myself. Most of my e-books are either free classics downloaded in EPUB format (if not EPUB, I use calibre to convert them to EPUBs) or image only PDFs of books I cut apart and scanned. PDF is a lousy e-book format but it is much faster than converting scans with OCR and correcting the OCR errors (the process takes even longer than reading the book) and I had almost two thousand books to scan (I'm still not finished). Not all e-book readers can render image PDFs into a readable form, especially the Kindles.
I have a Kindle Paperwhite and I have downloaded numerous free ebooks from various sites and imported them into Calibre. Some of the books were in formats the Kindle couldn't read so I converted them to the .mobi extension.
All of the books so far have worked great. There were a few books that didn't have a table of contents so going back to certain chapters was a slight pain but to answer you question most .mobi files will work with Kindle if converted or downloaded properly.
I would get her a Kindle. What LF said is true about the DRM but once you buy the book it is stored in the cloud for you to download whenever you want. You can strip the DRM if you want but I don't see a need for it. If you buy the books from the Kindle store they will work with the Kindle. You can download books from others sites and convert them to .mobi if necessary. So far I am really happy with my Kindle Paperwhite. It works GREAT! The battery is good and the backlit screen is a vary nice addition.
You can convert books from other vendors and convert to mobi as long as they aren't DRM infested. For example, books from B&N usually have DRM and can't be converted to mobi nor read on the Kindle without stripping the DRM first.
It's true that Amazon keeps your books for you in the cloud but I don't trust that for long term storage, perferring to keep mutiple copies in various locations myself.
@ Rick. The Kindle may still be a good choice for your wife, depending on her tastes. Unless you are wanting to surprise her, you might have her browse through Amazon's Kindle book collection to see if they work for her. Just because the Kindle and Kindle books don't meet my needs doean't mean they wouldn't meet hers. If you recall, I did mention that I recommend the Kindle for most people.
Most of the wives who wait for their husbands at appointments read on Kindles so that's why I ask about the machine.
The reading device needs to be light weight, have loong battery life plus be easy to use.
She likes the Kindles the other wives have so I'll probably go with a Kindle as a Tablet would be too much trouble running Windows 8.
Thanks to ALL for your input.
Once you download the book to your Kindle, I believe you can copy it to your computer as a back up. It won't load in Calibre because of the DRM but it is still a backup that isn't in the cloud.
The Kindle Paperwhite is the best non-tablet Kindle in my opinion. There are some fun word games on it and the battery life is really good, as long as you keep WiFi off, but even then the battery is still good with WiFi on. It just lasts longer with it off, which is like every other device :)