No Kindle? No NOOK? No problem!

Once upon a time, there was an avid reader named Bob who loved his shelves of books. Bob and his wife, Jan, lived on the banks of a scenic river. Bob liked to select a nice book from his many shelves and take it out to read while sitting on their deck overlooking the river. One day, Bob heard on the weather report that floods were expected in his area. Bob was dismayed. All of his shelves of books were on the ground floor of his house. He needed to move them all upstairs and the flood waters were due to arrive any moment.

"What shall I do?" Bob asked Jan. "I can't move all of my books in time!"

"I will help you," Jan answered, "and we will move as many as we can."

[Bookshelf Image]

Bob and Jan spent the rest of the afternoon moving books upstairs to save them from the flood. They worked so diligently, they didn't notice that the expected arrival time of the floods came and went. The river rose but did not crest its banks. In the evening, after congratulating themselves on saving every one of Bob's many books, they realized that it had all been in vain.

"Imagine if all of these books were electronic," Jan said with an exhausted sigh. "They would have been safe all along."

"I can't switch from paper books to e-books," Bob snorted. "Even if I wanted to, I don't have a Kindle, and now that we have paid for your mother's earlobe reconstructive surgery we can't afford to buy one."

"Bob," Jan said, shaking her head, "you don't need to own a Kindle to read e-books!"

What did Jan know that Bob didn't know?

Jan knew that there are many no-cost ways to read e-books. Here are the options that Jan explained to Bob as she wiped away the sweat from her forehead and did her best to politely ignore Bob's protestations about how printed books are superior to e-books:

  • Books for the Kindle: The easiest way to read a Kindle book without a Kindle is to use one of the free Kindle apps that Amazon makes available. You will find that they support tablets and phones as well as computers using Windows and OS X. They even offer their "Cloud Reader" which lets you read Kindle books directly in your browser. These tools work directly with your Amazon account. You can also add books obtained from sources other than Amazon, as long as they are in a Kindle-ready format.
  • Books for the NOOK: Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble provides apps for using your phone or other mobile device -- -- as well as an in-browser reader -- -- that work with your Barnes & Noble account. You can also add books obtained from other sources to these reading apps if they are in ePUB format.
  • Books for the Kobo, Sony, and other ePUB-compatible readers: Many e-reader devices, including those from Kobo and Sony, are built around support for the "standard" ePUB format for e-books. You don't need to have a physical device to read an ePUB book, however. With a little looking, you should be able to find an app for your mobile platform of choice (i.e., Android or iOS) that reads ePUB files, and ePUB-reading software is also available in Windows, Linux, and OS X.
  • Books in PDF: Before Kindle and ePUB e-books became more common, many books were published in PDF format. This format has a lot of historical support on a very wide range of computer and mobile device platforms. You probably already have software installed on your computer or mobile device that reads PDFs. If not, see:
  • And then, there's calibre...: Beyond merely reading books, calibre is a powerful (and free) program for Windows, OS X, and Linux that allows you to manage your e-book collection, read e-books, convert e-books to other formats, and more. Many indie/self-published writers rely on calibre as part of their publishing workflow. You can learn more and download calibre here:

Jan sure knows a lot about e-books! And now you know what Jan and Bob know. If you don't have an e-reader device, you can still use your computer or mobile device to read e-books.

Please share this information with other readers you know! You can send them the URL of this blog post, or you can print or otherwise copy this note (with author attribution) under the terms of the Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 license.

Happy reading!

Photo credit: Dawn Turner, via

About the Author
Stuart J. Whitmore is an author of fiction and nonfiction, as well as a photographer, technology developer, and more. If you enjoy reading his blog posts, you might also enjoy reading his books. Take a look at the books by Stuart J. Whitmore today, and download your copy of one that looks interesting to you!