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.


      • tulrose

        My original Kindle one came with a tacky black cover that you open like a book. I’ve since bought a nice padded fabric cover, much more sturdy, made with a butterfly print material. I got it from .

  1. Dee

    ms cherryh, just bought an ipad today and did the free ibooks d/l – do you know if your ebooks will work with it? this is a new territory for me ;P

    • AnneB

      I don’t have an iPad (yet), but from what I’ve read, you can drag an ePub file into the Books section of iTunes just as you would drag a song into Music. Then sync the iPad with iTunes and you should be good. I’m using Calibre on my MacBook Pro and Stanza on my iPod Touch for ePub books, and something like that would probably work, too.

  2. iminnocent

    AnneB, you heard correct. You can drag ePub files into iTunes Books and when it syncs with your iPad it’ll show up on the book shelf. I have Stanza and iBooks and the Kindle reader on my iPad. They all work well.

  3. Bill

    Honest, I tried to find an answer, but no luck. So a newbie question:
    Are any of the Foreigner series available as e-books?

  4. CJ

    Not that I can tell…Penguin insisted on handling DAW e-books, and so far as I can determine, hasn’t put any out. Plus I hold e-rights on a few, so it’s pretty confused.

    • tulrose

      Last I looked Destroyer was on Amazon. I haven’t looked lately, however.

    • Bill

      At least I can stop looking. 🙂 Maybe sometime?

  5. Myrtle

    Not sure if this would be a good spot for this question, but I’ll throw it out there.

    I’m a Canuckian and trying to decide what e-reader to get. As much as losing the feel of books makes me sad, I see the writing on the wall. 😀

    Have horrible luck in buying something and it being the one that goes obsolete the fastest.

    Any suggestions?

  6. tulrose

    Dear Myrt; I’m a happy kindler and I also lust after an iPad (maybe when my kindle dies). My only suggestion is to try to find various readers and give them a test drive. I’m very happy with black and white and don’t feel the need for colour. After all, I just want to read books, not connect to the web and do all sorts of other stuff. I’m not fond of Amazon’s DRM but will put up with it for their book inventory, and I can read PRC and MOBI files which allows me to buy from many other sites. Happy shopping.

  7. Bill

    I have a Kindle DX and like it a lot. The large screen is great for my old eyes. I would take tulrose’s advice
    and try them. For me, although I am an Apple fan, I would not buy an iPad as a book reader. E-ink is much
    less fatiguing than illuminated displays.

  8. Myrtle

    Thank you for the suggestions. 🙂 I am definitely starting to look seriously. Part of the concern, I guess, is that there are still “availability” issues up here. We can use Kindles and Nooks now, but there seems to be issues with ebooks only being available in the US. Or the proprietary nature of the devices.

    Price, as well as I just can’t think of anything OTHER than reading books I would use an iPad for keep me from thinking seriously about it. LOL!

  9. CJ

    IPHONES and other i-devices:

    IPhones and other iDevices:

    Here follows the massed wisdom of our Users: if you are using any i-device…You need iTunes and iBooks (a free reader app in the app store). Open iTunes and click on the Books folder in the left sidebar. Drag the iPub file into this window. Make sure you have the iBooks reader installed on your iPhone and then sync your device.

    Step 1. On your computer: Download the epub file from Closed Circle to your computer INTO the folder you use for epub. Step 2. Have iTunes and iBooks [free apps in the app store] installed. Step 3. Open iTunes and click on the Books folder/section in the left sidebar. Step 4. Drag the ePub file onto the Books screen/page of iTunes 9.2.

    Step 5: On your device: Be sure you have the iBooks Reader installed on your iPhone [an app]. Step 6: Sync your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.

    This should do it.

  10. CJ

    Google wants control. They want to own everything, and imho, once they do own everything, they’ll be responsible to no one. I don’t trust them. They have an evil conquer-the-universe scheme about once a month, and many of them center around controlling all information flow and making their profit off it.

  11. Apf

    Anyone company that spends so much effort and money telling everyone they ‘do no evil’ must have a secret lair, a large white fluffy cat and a rather large, full shark tank over which a British gentleman in a dinner jacket is hanging by a burning rope while he exchanges flirty witticisms with an attractive woman with an unfortunate name who by some strange law of narrative has appeared to have forgotten to finish dressing.

  12. tulrose

    CJ: Have either of you downloaded the “Kindle for PC” application from Amazon? It’s free and would help in your proofing the final results of the editing. I suspect you have to have an account with them, but am not sure because I’ve always had an account.

  13. tulrose

    That app has an annoying habit of copying a file into its own database. It does this to keep track of where you are in reading that specific file. If you plan on using it to see how the text reads on a kindle then be aware that you will need to delete the file from “Kindle for PC”, make any changes you deem necessary, and open it up again. The app also has no problem with duplicate files. I’ve discussed some of its idiosyncracies with CS at Amazon and they make a note of it but it’s really not high up on their list of things to do.

    On a cheery note, got my new K3 yesterday. It’s much lighter and I can now use either Wi-fi or 3G for downloads. Battery life is vastly improved as well and it’s supposed to last about a month with normal reading usage.

    • tulrose

      P.S. Birthday prezzie to self.

  14. tulrose

    CJ and Jane: Have you looked into ZAMZAR for e-book conversions? . It also converts a lot of other things. I use the free service but there are paid services with faster turnaround, the cheapest of which is $7 a month.

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