TROUBLESHOOTING your e-books on computers AND e-readers

First, you need to know: what file format does your device use? E-books come in about 8 different file formats.

Computers need a software to display an e-book. These softwares are free or they are shareware (small donation requested but not required.) Use: Mobipocket Reader ( .mobi format); Calibre ( .epub format—AND has a converter to convert an epub or mobi file to any other file format you could want: what a bargain!) Or use Adobe Reader ( .pdf format).

Our downloads will be in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf. Via Calibre you can make them into anything your device needs.

A computer screen produces its own light. E-book readers, the Kindle, for example, have a screen that emulates paper—and produces no light.

A computer can read a variety of e-book formats, and its storage, is as large as you want it to be. The storage of an e-book reader is somewhat more limited. The Kindle II, for instance, holds up to 1500 books. Other readers have their own storage limits, some considerably less than that. But they are still more compact than a shelf full of books. And the Kindle downloads wherever you are, using something like cellphone technology, without the use of wires.

Phones are becoming e-readers, as well; as are Palms, and other devices.

You’ve heard of DRM. That’s a lock on the file that limits it to the device to which it was downloaded. Non-DRM files can easily be moved from device to device, and computer to computer. For that reason, the success of a store offering non-DRM depends on the honesty and integrity of its customers. People who like my books, thank goodness, tend to be honest and honorable, and I figure if you’re honest in what you offer, with a fair price, you’ll get honesty and fairness back.

On the left sidebar of this site is a section called E-BOOK READERS. Your computer can natively read PDF and so do many readers: the advantage of PDF is that it looks just the way the author wants it to. The disadvantage is that it can’t scale to help your eyesight. The advantage of mobi is that you can change fonts at will, change type size—or totally adjust the file to fit a subcompact size display like a phone screen.

If you are having trouble with a download or a reader, tell us, and either I or our very smart readership will figure out what to do.

1) getting a ‘mini’ file. These are .zip files and need to be unzipped: to do this– Step one: download to a computer. Step two: click on the file. [Your computer likely has an unzip program already, and it will respond by breaking open the .zip file and revealing files in all our formats…mobi,.epub, and .pdf. If you do not have an ‘unzip utility’ on your computer, look at and, and download a free utility. Once it is on your computer, it will work whenever you click on a .zip file.]

2) getting a file onto a device: some of these are from our very kind readers.
A) To read via your computer: choose .pdf. Click on the file. Your computer should have an Adobe pdf reader that responds to this and opens the file. If it doesn’t, download this free reader:; other options: (uses .epub); and the Kindle for PC download from Amazon (uses .mobi) (both are free).

B)Kindle. Open the zip on your computer as above to get the .mobi file. Plug the Kindle’s USB into your computer. Your computer will find the device as a drive: open your My Computer’ screen and just drag the .mobi file onto your Kindle and drop. It will now open like any other book.

D) C) Nook. Simplest choice: the .epub file, and this method gets the color covers.
1. Download and install Calibre from
2. Start the program, then add the .epub file you downloaded from Closed Circle into Calibre by using the drop down menu on the “Add Books” icon.
3. Plug your Nook into a USB port on your computer using the USB cable that came with the device. Calibre will recognize the Nook, and add a button in the tool bar labeled “Device”. Then you can transfer by clicking on the drop down arrow on the “Device” icon.

E) iPhone >go here for instruction, with screenshots:iphone

E) iPad: go here for instruction, with screenshots: Adding DRM-Free books to your iPad or iPhone

F) Nook Tablet: See: Nook instructions.

G) Android device. For my Android phone I’ve used two methods sucessfully:

[A] downloading to a PC and transferring to the phone from there (using drag-and-drop in Windows Explorer).

[B] downloading on the phone itself (i.e. if you use your phone to read the email containing the download link).

I use the free Aldiko Reader app on my Android phone, which seems really nice – you’ll find it in the Play store (there’s a paid version too but I’m not sure what the advantages are). For other readers the process of getting the book into the app once the file is on your phone may differ…

For [A] the process is:

1. Get the files onto your PC as explained in point 1) of the main post above

2. Connect the phone to the PC via USB cable, and ensure it’s connected in “Disk Drive” mode (not “Charge only”)

3. Locate the .epub file on your PC using Windows Explorer

4. Drag and drop (copy) the file to a suitable folder on your phone – I’d suggest the ‘download’ folder

5. Start the Aldiko app, tap ‘Files’ (you’ll see a list of folders on the phone), then tap whatever folder you copied the file into (e.g. the ‘download’ folder)

6. You should see your .epub file there – tap to select it, then tap the ‘Import to Aldiko’ button that appears

7. Use the Back button to get back to the main menu in Aldiko, and your book will be there!

And for [B]:

1. Download the ZIP file on your Android phone (note, on my phone all downloaded files are saved to the ‘download’ folder by default, but I’m not sure if this is the same on all Android devices)

2. Go to ‘Downloads’ (you can find it in the All Apps list)

3. Tap the ZIP file to open it (you’ll see all the files that are inside)

4. Select ‘Extract All’ from the phone’s Menu button (the button on the phone itself, just next to the actual touch screen) *For those who care to know such things, the unzipped files end up in the ‘download’ folder alongside the ZIP file, but it’s not apparent – you just have to trust that they’re there*

5. Start the Aldiko app, tap ‘Files’ (you’ll see a list of folders on the phone), then tap the ‘download’ folder

6. From there, depending on how the ZIP file is structured, just tap through the folders until you find the .epub file, tap to select it, then tap the ‘Import to Aldiko’ button that appears

7. Use the Back button to get back to the main menu in Aldiko, and your book will be there!

G) Kobo. The Kobo Touch reader should work like Nook with Calibre, though I haven’t tried it.

HOWEVER, it can also work like this:

1. Download the file from the Closed Circle purchase link as a .epub.

2. Plug in your Kobo Reader via the USB cable and allow it to be recognized as a USB drive. (Press Connect on the Kobo when it gives you the “computer connected” dialogue box.)

3. Copy the .epub file to the USB drive representing the Kobo.

4. Properly “eject” the Kobo reader so that the file is truly written.

5. Unplug the Kobo reader. It should automatically recognize the .epub and add it to the front page as a new library entry.

This I did on Linux for the new Deliberations I just bought nary a few minutes ago. It should work very similarly on Windows. I don’t know enough about Mac to say. I suspect this process would also work on Nook: they are very similar devices.


  1. CJ

    All Mac and Mac-device users: could you list urls for freeware that turns these devices into e-book readers, plus any urls for conversion software for the appropriate e-format?

    Not having any Mac devices or computers, I’m kind of in the dark on these, but want to be Mac-friendly.

  2. Suzi99

    Thank you – I’m absolutely a Mac fan, and I really appreciate your willingness to include Macs!
    Re Mac products: is the URL for downloads of eReader for Macs, PCs, OQO (?) and a variety of mobile devices. Kindle’s iPhone reader is free at the Apple iTunes store, already on your Mac computer or downloadable from . iTunes is available for PCs so you can sync with your iPod/iPhone. (I’m really clueless about what’s there or how it works.) eBook Reader Software lists several choices for reader software, a couple of which say they work on Macs… but does anyone still use Netscape Navigator? I have Microsoft Office for Mac, so may also be able to read Plain Text and Microsoft Word ebooks. There’s a nice list at Pure Mac – eBook – Software for Macintosh at. It lists Stanza for the desktop. (Already on your sidebar, but not noted as Mac compatible.) If I find more, I’ll add them.
    Maybe I should change my login to MacSuzi… 😎
    PS has 7 of your books listed for sale, similar pricing as eReader.

  3. Suzi99

    Oops – I didn’t do it right. Hmmm… OK, quick & dirty, replace the spaces with forward slashes, put in a tilde where it says TILDE (that’s the little squiggly thing just below the top left corner on my keyboard) and you should be good to go.
    eReader – ereader software browse.htm
    Apple iTunes – itunes download
    eBook Reader Software – TILDEpristineebook.html
    eBook Mall – mac
    Stanza – stanza

  4. Suzi99

    OK CJ, I’m not getting this right. It put in periods where I left spaces… and it does do forward slashes – I guess it was objecting to the angle brackets. Sorry!

    • CJ

      Thank you, Suzi—this WordPress thing is scalable, so it cheerfully loses bits and bobs of urls you try to post…a whole learning curve there: I had to try 3 times to post something involving dashes and get it NOT to compress.

      I appreciate thse list. Anything on there to help ME, on my pc, translate something pc-ish to a Mac-friendly e-book type. I think Calibre may be ok, and I work well with it; but how about mobi? do you do that format?

  5. msss

    I can’t wait to see your ebooks. I’ve bought a couple through Fictionwise, but I’d much prefer to know that you were getting your share directly, not just royalties through the labyrinth of contracts.

    May I second/third/fourth the recommendations of talking to Baen? I know Sharon Lee and Steve Miller use them for their OOP/out-of-contract books. (I think their publisher went bust.) They seem to have some lovely text processing software that churns out all the right formatting in HTML/PDF/RTF/etc. And their authors get a better share of the reasonable cover price.

    Meanwhile, my Ebay copy of RIMRUNNERS arrived yesterday and I am struggling to concentrate on work today instead of going back to what’s happening with Bet Yeagher.

    • Sabina

      I’d be interested in the ebooks going up at Baen, too. For it’s not the formats, for me it’s the payment. I don’t use PayPal and check in the post is something that the postal service warns against. Baen does offer alternative payment methods.

  6. Suzi99

    Re Calibre & mobi, I’m totally unfamiliar. At least on the Softpedia site, it looks as though Calibre should work. Aha, I searched mobi+mac on Softpedia & it has two items that should read the mobi ebooks. I’m assuming that means you don’t have to translate from mobi to anything for it to work. I’ll try it out when I can think clearly. Standardized tests for kids with learning disabilities are incredibly tiring for the teacher. I wouldn’t trust my decision-making ability today!
    Like msss, I’ve viewed Baen’s books on my iMac and Palm with no problems. IIRC, that was html on the iMac & .prc on the Palm. I’m not sure the computer mattered for the .prc files, but was just used as a conduit to load the Palm.

  7. CJ

    Sabina, the reason we don’t offer credit cards is not because we can’t, but that online they’re a risk we’d rather not use the energy to manage (we’ve had to change our credit cards twice in two years because some hackers got into the credit card payment center, and into a major online seller, once each, and we ended up getting bills from a pizza parlor down in Florida, about as far away from where we live as you can get without treading water.)

    A check in the US mail, particularly of the small amount we’ll charge, is probably safer than all of the above. It’ll go to a very small PoBox 3 blocks from us, and will be handled only by us.

  8. CJ

    Now here’s the straight of what Lynn (our shopping cart guru) is setting up. Paypal Standard offers: 3 major credit cards (they keep the data behind *their* security wall, and you are thus better protected)—and Paypal itself.

    Then there will be a place where you can send checks: Jane and I will handle that end, and we swear on a stack of novels to absolutely get to that PO box once a week and return you an e-mail with authorization to download, unless we are out of town—you get very personal service, but you’re kinda subject to where we are at the time…a little downside in that, but it’s the best we can do and still give you the personal assurance we’re handling it.

    We are definitely offering mobi and ePub for my books, which will cover PCs and Macs, in a non-DRM format. I’m not sure what the other two are doing, though I suspect Fancher will do the same 2 formats. That leaves Abbey, who is likely to do at least those two. We will also ferret out conversion softwares so that if you’re needing just one conversion step to get where you want to be, we’ll be able to point you at it. I believe with those two we handle all PCs, Macs, Kindle, Sony, Cybook (indirectly), and various small devices. If I’m not right, let me know. If you know your device is handled by those 2 and we haven’t mentioned it, mention it, so others will know.

    Remember we’re an information network and I need information on which to work and plan.

  9. Azureblu

    Can I do PayPal e-check? That doesn’t require a credit card. I’m on Disability and credit card companies don’t issue cards to people who are on
    it. I was using the PayPal e-check to pay my internet service provider and
    then he changed the criteria so that payment must be backed by a credit
    card. So if not I will mail a check. E-check is quicker and you don’t release
    your product until you get payment(about three days).

    • CJ

      We’re setting up a Paypal account for each of us. I’ve never used it before, so I’m hoping that’s an option: I know it’s got an array of possibilities. But certainly a check will be fine, too.
      Let me know, too, how those downloaded readers work for you. And don’t forget to visit the Project Gutenberg link in the Blog Roll section: that’s a wonderful site with all sorts of legitimate free e-books on which you can test your new reader—for free.

  10. Azureblu

    Thanks! My friend just told me that I can purchase a prepaid credit card also!
    That might answer a lot of things for me!

  11. CJ

    That’s quite true. You might even see if your bank can issue one. I think WaMu might have some such: I saw something of that sort in a bank kiosk in Safeway, but can’t remember which bank. You might call around.

  12. reading-fox

    I recently came across this site Ebook readers which provides a very convenient comparison of all the current Kindle style ebooks available. All sorts of details from the size and weight through to the formats they can read.

  13. dhrowe


    I really like Stanza as a reader. Especially with ePub and an iPod. It is fun to have a Novel with you wherever you go. I swam this morning and got out before my wife so I read a couple of chapters out in the sunshine coming off the endorphines from a hard workout.

    I buy books through Baen and you might think about putting one up in the free library – as a teaser.

    When are you planning to start selling e-books?


    • CJ

      Just about as soon as we can get hold of Lynn (Abbey) and get her input. We have things ready to go, and Lynn has been trying to get the technicals and accounts lined up. Soon, very soon, I hope!

  14. Phogg

    Don’t be afraid to be evil with your back stock. My son got the first fourth and fifth book free out of an eight volume a juvenile series… Worked on him.

  15. Suzi99

    There is an interesting interview with the publisher of Take Control ebooks. It’s focused on the new Kindle, but includes quite a bit of general epub info. It’s linked on their home page at

  16. ericf

    Hello again.

    I’m really happy that you are talking about including a “print one” option with your e-books.
    But how will that work?

    Do I personally submit the “materials” to, per example, or do I have to do it some other way? and other Print On Demand publishers do have particular book sizes that they offer and the source file (pdf) you submit for printing must conform to those custom sizes.
    Does “Print One” mean I get the raw text in a file or does it mean something else?

    It would be very nice to have this sort of information available when you get ready to start selling your e-books. I will probably get some of the books in regular paperback (I really need a paper book) but some I’ll want in hardcover. That would mean a different size book than a paperback.

    If this information can be available on a page about how to purchase your e-books I’d be very grateful.
    Thanks for writing all these wonderful books and sending them out to us, the readers!

    • CJ

      We’re working like paperhangers in a wind tunnel trying to get the physical book up, but this is what we almost know—
      We MAY have to provide a pdf for the print option, but we don’t think so. The e-books have a thing called CSS–scalable type, so they conform to most any device: ie, you can view the book in any typeface or size on a reader, and it automatically adjusts. I personally haven’t physically tested lulu for output, just accessibility. Apparently they want some sort of ‘permission’, which we can print and include.

      Anything our readers can learn about this we will happily absorb and incorporate. It will be one of our highest priorities to pin this stuff down and get some precise instructions up.

  17. CrimsonCherries

    I am so happy to see that you will be making your previous books into ebooks! You are one of my absolute favorite authors. I’ve been hoping the Foreigner series would be available in ebook formats. Some of the paperbacks I have were already falling apart when I bought them new (I don’t know why some of them were so poorly made)! So I bought the last two novels in hardback and have been debating on whether to replace the rest of the series in hardback (would need to buy them used as they are out of print). If I own a series, I like them to be all hardback or all paperback. Unfortunately for me, space is a huge issue as I have over 800 books and many are in boxes. 🙁 So I am seriously looking into purchasing ebooks instead. I would buy all your books!

    I haven’t bought an eReader yet, but have my eye on the Astak EZ Reader Pocket PRO, which is supposed to come out in a few months. It seems affordable (price will be between $199 and $209)and I like that they’re open format (they plan on having it support txt, pdf, doc, chm, wol, rar, zip, jpg, bmp, tiff, fb2, djvu, gif, epub, html, ppt, prc, pdb, MP3). I’ve been watching their blog here: My laptop is just too heavy and bulky for me to read comfortably.

    I would also love to read more of the Chanur series. Will you be writing additional novels? The Chanur and Foreigner series have been two of my most favorite series. It’s like eating comfort food. They make me feel good after reading them. 🙂

    • CJ

      I don’t say never to the Chanur things. There’s no law that says I can’t do a novella straight to e-books.
      And welcome in!

      • HRHSpence

        Oh please, please! I want a chanur novella!

        *jumps up and down, waving hand*

      • CrimsonCherries

        Thank you!

        OMG…I would be ecstatic if you wrote a Chanur novella (or several 😉 ). e-book format would be just fine by me. 😀

        And I also love that you’re thinking about how you can autograph/personalize an e-book (I forgot where I read it on your blog). I think that’s one thing I would miss from not having a paper book – getting it personalized or at least autographed by the author(s).

    • CJ

      They’ve been trying to perfect this little jewel for a decade. I do hope they make it.

    • tulrose

      They imply that this is a beta site so this might be someone new.

    • CJ

      Actually I’m told they’re not selling downloads, but referring over to Amazon. This is legitimate…if we could work out AMAZON paying us…

  18. Writingmom

    I read Foreigner back when it came as a monthly selection from a Sci-Fi book club to my then-husband. I fell in love and have been reading the series ever since. Over the years I have lost my editions of the books and now that I am fully on board with my Kindle (I LOVE e-books), I have been hoping for e-versions. For some reason, this is a series I am always happy to re-read every couple of years, beginning with the first book.

    Aside from all that – I am so excited to see actual, talented, established authors taking control of their e-book future. I have chattered on to my husband about how completely cool I think this endeavor is and am waiting and hoping that it will be a wonderful success.

    As far as pricing – I seem to be the only one I know who is not complaining about Amazon kindle edition prices. They are much less expensive than what I was paying in hard copy prices and I am able to download the book again and again (or save it to my little memory card). I am queen of the backups so the electronic nature doesn’t disturb me and the convenience of my Kindle has really been a wonderful thing for me.

    I have been spreading the word on e-books and e-book readers far and wide and will continue to do so. I can’t wait until the e-books are up for sale on this site – I will immediately send out a broadcast email to my friends and family so they can look for old favorites (and maybe new favorites) in the e-book format!

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