Saturday, 18 October 2014

What are E-Readers

What are E-Readers

E-readers can be hardware or software that have features that assist people with print disabilities to read electronic books. There is a large variety of e-readers available on the market with various features.

There are various E-book types that work with different e-readers, virtually any text file can be turned into one of these formats using appropriate software and some publishers insist upon one format

Popular EBOOK formats:

HTML: Whilst HTML is not an ebook format per se, the indexation features of HTML can be readily understood by most epub compatible ebook readers, making it a popular if archaic format.

TXT- Plain text files can be understood by a range of Ebook readers,  as their title suggests they contain no text or advanced formatting, thus have limited navigation capabilities.

EPUB- is clearly the most widely used and publisher independant format for ebooks and thus epub compatible ebook readers are the best choice for the consumer or student, it is a powerful format in that it allows for navigation, headers, and superior manipulation of digital text.

EPUB is supported by virtually all popular ebook readers with the notable exception of the Kindle including The format can be read at least by the Kobo eReader, Blackberry Playbook, Apple's iBooks app running on iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Bookeen Cybook Gen3 (with firmware v. 2 and up), COOL-ER, Adobe Digital Editions, Lexcycle Stanza, BookGlutton, AZARDI, FBReader, Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and WordPlayer on Android, Freda on Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7, the Mozilla Firefox add-on EPUBReader, and Okular. Several other desktop reader software programs are currently implementing support for the format, such as dotReader, Mobipocket, uBook.

DAISY- is a format that used to be the most popular format when ebooks were primarily the provision of print-disabilities and not widely used by the mainstream audience, it features excellent indexation and navigation features and many features of EPUB’s.  DAISY files are compatible with most EPUB readers and DAISY and EPUB will become merged into one common format in the near future making them virtually indistinguishable (called EPUB3) but for now they are mainly cross-compatible.

Many devices for low-vision or print-disabled consumers are configured to work best with DAISY files, but these are being slowly supplanted by more popular EBOOK readers using the EPUB format.

.PDF PDF’s are widely used for textbooks and are of the proprietary format of ADOBE. PDF’s can be converted into EBooks but will require some editing to make accessible in that format. PDF’s are used to retain the layout- pictures and text of a printed document.  PDF format is encountered often but has some accessibility implications, a PDF may not consist of accessible text, a user will be restricted to certain readers such as ADOBE reader, web browser or IOS app to access a PDF which often have limitations in regards to ease of use and access. PDF’s are typically favoured by publishing companies because they are easy to lock for editing and preserve the ‘look’ of the printed page which is not necessarily a concern  and often a disadvantage for print-disabled users.

.azw; .kf8 (Kindle format)- is a widely used Ebook standards and are used exclusively with AMAZON products such as the Kindle. Whilst it is a powerful format, it is not editable or compatible with more popular formats so these files are only useful for amazon devices or softwares and their features are limited to the features of the limited range of devices for those that use them.

Recommended EBOOK converters

The most common task for parents and educators will be to convert EPUBS and DAISY (the two most popular formats), rather than creating an EPUB or DAISY from scratch. Most publishers and service providers will provide one of these two formats.

Two pieces of software are most often used for the conversion process

Is a free and easy to use conversion tool which will convert from multiple EBOOK formats into others. It works across all major operating systems.

Dolphin Easy Converter

is recommended by many education consultation companies, it is an easy and powerful converter but could cost as much as $1200.

Recommended EBOOK readers.

EPUBREADER for Firefox: EPUBreader for firefox works on a mac, Linux or PC and is a free reader that is compatible with DAISY or EPUB formats.  It is a simple but powerful addon to a firefox browser- you simply click on the book and it opens into a ready-to-read indexed and searchable ebook.

AMIS- is a free software e-reader available for the PC, it can read Daisy-formatted files and features the ability to change font size, enlarge, use synthesised speech-to-text and higlight reading parts. As it is software it can be used with PC accessibility features or specialised software (such as read&write Gold or Zoomtext) to invert colours or for magnification/screenreading.

iBooks - iBooks is an extremely powerful and versatile ebook reader available for free on the iPod, iphone and iPad. iBooks features an online library and store integrated into the device, however any ePub can be readily loaded into iBooks using iTunes.  When an ebook is loaded into iBooks it can be read via manipulated text (including inverted colours or any font size), read aloud, magnified or read by a Braille display.

Classmate Reader ($695): Classmate reader is a popular hardware device used in many schools, it contains many of the features of an IOS device with iBooks but is arguably easier to navigate and take notes with- it uses an SD card interface and is USB compatible, it can play a variety of formats particularly EPUB and DAISY, an iPad is recommended over the Classmate reader as iPad’s have multiple apps and therefore versatility.

Victor stream reader

The victor stream reader is a tactile, easy to use and navigate MP3 player that plays audiobook files known as ‘Daisy Files’- a daisy file differs slightly from a standard MP3 file in that it is indexed and searchable- so one can go to specific chapters of a book and listen to it. It is also very easy to search, pause and lock in order to continue listening to an audiobook later.

Many of our students still use these and vision australia still supply these tools and their library of books is usually in a daisy format- although IOS devices are quickly replacing these devices as they have a wider applicability and a great many audiobook websites use the standard MP3 format.

DaisyWorm- Daisyworm is a popular DAISY player for IOS devices and can be used to play talking books that can be uploaded via iTunes.

KINDLE- The kindle is a popular ebook reader but at this stage has limited uses for print-disabled due to it’s small screen size, lack of onscreen clarity,  incompatibility with EPUB books and limited text-to-speech features due to a philosophical dispute from Amazon about the difference between audiobooks and ebooks and their sale. There is a kindle 3 in development which may be more friendly to people with print disabilities in the future.


Price of Ebooks
Project Gutenburg

Amazon Proprietary
Premium cost (some free)
Premium cost (some free)
Google Ebooks
multiple (sometimes inaccessible pictures)
Premium cost
Free after Subscription

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