Mobileread
most basic newbie questions
#1  maxreason 03-28-2020, 06:05 PM

I've seen kindle copies of books on amazon for years, but don't have electronic gizmos like ipads, iphones, kindle readers and so forth. I only have my PC running a recent 64-bit Linux Mint operating system.

I finally broke down and decided to read what appear to be free kindle versions of books on the amazon.com website. I found my way to the calibre website, entered the line of text from the website to install on my computer, and the installation process apparently completed with no problems.

I figured I could now download and view ebooks ... sorta like downloading PDF files and reading with the PDF viewer application. Right? I mean ... I figured "isn't an ebook more-or-less just a PDF file"?

Uh, maybe not?

When I executed calibre in a terminal window displayed a dialog that says "welcome to caliber" and says "the one stop solution to all your e-book needs". Sounds great!

But then the dialog asks me to "choose your e-book device". My e-book device? What is an e-book device? I mean, isn't calibre "my one stop solution to my e-book needs"? Isn't my linux computer my e-book device? If not, what is?

And how do I download the free ($0.00) books from amazon that I was looking at? For example, like this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Busch-Airplane-Ownership-troubleshooting-ebook/dp/B07T9HCW9H/ref=pd_sim_351_2/131-8719841-0395968?_encoding=UTF8

I started reading various documents but just got more and more confused about what this whole ebook/calibre process is. Maybe because I expected something simple and obvious like a PDF viewer + PDF files + some kind of library mechanism to display available/saved books I have my head screwed on backwards or inside-out. But what I figured had to be simple seems anything but simple or obvious.

Is there some super-brief, super-concise explanation of everything somewhere? Or can someone write an answer that is essentially a 2, 3, 5, 8 paragraph "reading ebooks with calibre on linux computer for absolute, complete, utter morons" to explain how I can download ebooks and view them on my 64-bit linux mint computer with calibre?

Oh, and don't forget to tell me what is my "device" so I can get past the first step in the calibre welcome wizard. And also the answers to all the rest of the steps that might follow that I haven't seen yet.

Thanks much.

And if something like this exists, feel free to just point me there. But it really must be written for someone who has ZERO context and knows ZERO of the established lingo (like what is a "device"). Otherwise I'll just throw up my hands in frustration and forget ebooks exist for yet another decade.

Oh, one final note. I have no interest in this entire ebook universe if I can't read supposedly free ebooks without paying (for the ebook and/or reader and/or anything else). If "free" doesn't mean "free", then I'd rather just continue to buy physical printed books and forget I ever heard terms like ebooks and kindle. So if that's the case, just say "free ain't free" and no need to explain calibre and so forth.
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#2  MarjaE 03-28-2020, 07:23 PM
Hi,

1st, Calibre contains an e-book viewer, but you may want to consider other software. epub and mobi files are more like self-contained web-pages, for offline reading, than like pdfs.

2nd, Calibre is mainly a tool to organize ebooks, regardless of format.

3rd, Calibre can also convert between formats. It has some trouble converting from pdf to other formats, but it's hard to convert from pdf. If you prefer to read in pdf, it can convert to pdf.

4th, Calibre can export a selection of books to another device, such as an e-reader. That's not much use if you prefer using your computer. There're a lot of ways to configure this to only export a certain virtual library, to export to a certain file structure, to create collections on the Kindle, etc.

P.S. It's been a long time since I set this up, so I'm not sure if you can skip selecting a reader.
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#3  Sirtel 03-28-2020, 08:14 PM
If you just want to read your ebooks and not save/back-up them to your computer, don't install anything. You won't need Calibre to read your Amazon ebooks. You can read them in your browser (Kindle Cloud Reader) and store them on your Amazon account.

Calibre is for the folks who want to create a personal library of all their ebooks and manage that, remove the DRM (Digital Rights Management), convert to different formats, edit metadata and formatting, make back-up copies of their ebooks and so on. If those things sound like something you'd be interested in, then you'll have to do some researching. But if you just want to read, none of that will be needed.
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#4  jhowell 03-28-2020, 08:39 PM
Quote Sirtel
You can read them in your browser (Kindle Cloud Reader) and store them on your Amazon account.
I second that. The website URL for the Kindle Cloud Reader is read.amazon.com. You can read your Amazon purchases there.
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#5  maxreason 03-28-2020, 09:34 PM
Quote jhowell
I second that. The website URL for the Kindle Cloud Reader is read.amazon.com. You can read your Amazon purchases there.
That sounds good, but I can't see how to make that work. For example, here is a link to a book I want to read. It says "Kindle $0.00" (or $29.75 for paperback).

https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Busch-Airplane-Ownership-troubleshooting-ebook/dp/B07T9HCW9H

I see that kindleunlimited (whatever that is) can let me read the book, but after one month it starts charging me money ($10 per month, I think). So ... not interested in that.

When I went to the read.amazon.com website it appeared to display a page with two sample books (I'm guessing) already populating the page. In the upper right corner is a button that says "Kindle Store"... which takes me back to a page on www.amazon.com where books are displayed. I can enter the name of the book and find the book, but there seems to be no way to make that book display in that read.amazon.com webpage ... unless I'm just being dense. Which is very possible! :-o

Though the search also states (next to the book at the bottom) "or $9.99 to buy". Which makes me think this whole "free" nonsense is nothing but a come-on where "free" only refers-to the first month of a service that then costs me $120 per year.

So it appears like $10 to buy a kindle version of this book, or $10 per month to view any number of "free" kindle books (and pay even more for other ebooks that are not free).

Have I got this figured out right? Or not?
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#6  Sirtel 03-28-2020, 10:17 PM
Quote maxreason
That sounds good, but I can't see how to make that work. For example, here is a link to a book I want to read. It says "Kindle $0.00" (or $29.75 for paperback).

https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Busch-Airplane-Ownership-troubleshooting-ebook/dp/B07T9HCW9H

I see that kindleunlimited (whatever that is) can let me read the book, but after one month it starts charging me money ($10 per month, I think). So ... not interested in that.

When I went to the read.amazon.com website it appeared to display a page with two sample books (I'm guessing) already populating the page. In the upper right corner is a button that says "Kindle Store"... which takes me back to a page on www.amazon.com where books are displayed. I can enter the name of the book and find the book, but there seems to be no way to make that book display in that read.amazon.com webpage ... unless I'm just being dense. Which is very possible! :-o

Though the search also states (next to the book at the bottom) "or $9.99 to buy". Which makes me think this whole "free" nonsense is nothing but a come-on where "free" only refers-to the first month of a service that then costs me $120 per year.

So it appears like $10 to buy a kindle version of this book, or $10 per month to view any number of "free" kindle books (and pay even more for other ebooks that are not free).

Have I got this figured out right? Or not?
The book you're talking about is a Kindle Unlimited book and it's not free, unless you subscribe. That said, there are also a lot of genuinely free ebooks. One way to find them is to choose your favorite genre and sort them by price, low to high. The price must be "0.00 to buy".
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