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Commercial eBooks

Commercial eBooks

The recent development of eBook readers like the Kindle, Sony Reader and the iPad, plus software for reading eBooks on iPods, PDAs and mobile phones has encouraged publishers to produce books in electronic formats. There are several different electronic formats and the most common commercial formats are EPUB and AZW (the Kindle format).

The Kindle Fire and the iPad can both can display text in a fairly large font size, and both have text-to-speech output (although not all Kindle eBooks have the text-to-speech turned on - check before you buy). You need good dexterity to operate the readers though, and there's no sockets for switches or other controls. RNIB have a comparison of eBook readers and so does the eBook Readers Review site.

You can read eBooks on your computer with free reader software (e.g. Kindle for PC and Adobe Digital Editions) but facilities and options for readers with print disabilities are still quite basic, albeit improving. On the plus side, you can navigate around the book using keyboard and mouse, so that's good for readers with physical disabilities, and you can make the text size pretty big, which is good if you can't see small print. Kindle with Accessibility PlugIn is a new version of the Kindle for PC software which has built-in text-to-speech, while the latest Adobe Digital Edition lets you read the text with Jaws or NVDA (Windows) and VoiceOver (Mac) text-to-speech programs. The commercial eBook software still can't compare to reading a book with software designed for print-disabled readers though.

 

Books for All How-To Video Guides

 

Supplier Description Formats User
Commercial publishers and retailers Do an internet search for 'eBooks' and you will find a large number of retailers Various, but usualy: EPUB, PDF (ADE), LIT, MobiPocket Anyone
Eduserv eBook Finder Type the ISBN of the book you want and this free web service will search the WorldCat database and tell you if it's available in eBook, audio or other formats. Various Anyone
Amazon Kindle books

There are over 700,000 Kindle eBooks available on Amazon. You read Kindle books either on a Kindle eBook reader, or on your computer using free Kindle software.
Many people find the monochrome Kindle Reader screens easier to look at than colour tablet or LCD screens, and you can change the font and size, so people with reading difficulties or dyslexia may find it accessible. You can also change the font size (up to about 36 pt) and so it's of interest to people with a visual impairment. The black and white Kindle Readers don't have text-to-speech though. The controls are small and you need good physical dexterity and so it's not an option for many with physical disabilities.

The Kindle Fire readers have colour screens, options to change colours, font and font sizes, and basic text-to-speech.

Kindle Reader software is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices so you can read Kindle books on these devices too.

The standard Kindle Reader software for PC and Mac lets you change the font size and background colour (white, black or sepia) and the maximum font size is very large indeed, so that's good for people with visual impairment. The font is serifed and there's no text-to-speech and most of the general text readers can't 'get at' the text and so can't read it. Kindle Software on a PC or Mac is a good option for readers with physical impairments because you can navigate the book with keyboard, mouse or switches.

The Kindle with Accessibility Plugin provides text-to-speech with a choice of male or female American voices. You can't use other voices on your computer and it doesn't highlight the text as it reads. However, you can select the text and have it read out with a generic text-to-speech program such as MiniReader, ClaroRead or Read and Write Gold.

Kindle (AZW), mobi, PDF Anyone
iBookStore Apple's iBookStore could do for eBooks what the iPod did for downloadable music. The iPad has a good range of font options and built-in text-to-speech. Watch this space. EPUB Anyone
Off the Page Off The Page create easy to read, high interest ebooks for low level readers. They are non-fiction ebooks about every-day activities, with excellent photo pictures and few words, for readers with any reading disabilitystruggling readers or adults learning to read Online Anyone
Pottermore The new JK Rowling web site which opens in October 2011 will have eBook versions of the Harry Potter books, although we don't know yet how accessible they will be. not yet known Anyone
WH Smith WH Smith has over 100,00 eBooks available in EPUB and Adobe Digital Editions PDF. You can read the books on eBook readers from Sony, Samsung, Elonex and iRiver or on your PC, with the free Adobe Digital Editions.
With Adobe Digital Editions you can change the font size, but you can't change the colours or font (it uses a serif font). You can select and read out (some) books with text-to-speech software, but many of the commercial eBooks are protected and so again, you can't 'get at' the text to have it read out.
EPUB, PDF (ADE) Anyone
Waterstones Waterstones sell EPUB eBooks and eBook readers from Sony, Elonex and iRiver. You can read the eBooks on your computer using free Adobe Digital Editions.
With Adobe Digital Editions you can change the font size, but you can't change the colours or font (it uses a serif font). You can select and read out (some) books with text-to-speech software, but many of the commercial eBooks are protected and so again, you can't 'get at' the text to have it read out.
EPUB Anyone