Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes


By James Booth

I hate print books. I have no use for them whatsoever, unless it's a software manual. I still like to have a printed software manual. But for pleasure reading I went digital over three years ago. More and more, publishing companies are making digital versions of their print mainstays available for handheld reading, including this month's Computing Unplugged Book of the Month.

The death of the paperback

Rising from the ashes of Bradbury's latest paperback bonfire is the e-book. Of course, to read these digital page-turners you'll need the appropriate software. For Pocket PCs that primarily means Microsoft Reader, eReader, or Adobe Acrobat Reader. If like me, your virtual pages are turned in the Palm OS, you'll find files primarily in the Adobe Acrobat Reader format, or Palm Reader format.

Yes, there are a dozen other formats for Palm e-books, but the Acrobat and Palm Reader are the most widely used. These are the formats carried by the majority of the e-book retailers that I'm acquainted with. And where will you find these electronic books? In this article, I'll introduce you to several of the digital retailers, giving you just as many, if not more, virtual bookstores than what you'd find in your local shopping mall.

One of my favorite sites is They have an extremely wide selection of FREE e-books, both original contributions, and works that are in the public domain and no longer bound by copyright. In addition to the free section, Memoware has a retail counterpart where you can find digital versions of the latest best-sellers.

I've bought several digital books from Memoware and for the most part have been pretty satisfied. As a matter of fact, the book I'll be covering in this article was purchased from Memoware. They also have a reward program, as do most e-book retailers, wherein some books have cash back rewards. These rewards are generally maintained in your customer account and can be redeemed as discounts on future purchases.

Another site I've made purchases from is Diesel-eBooks. Diesel is a relatively new player in the e-book market, just having launched in November 2004. Like Memoware, Diesel-eBooks has a discount program, rewarding you for joining (which is free), and for each purchase you make.

For the most part, you'll find the same books at each virtual bookstore, just differences in price. Happily, I found Diesel-eBooks to be the exception to the rule. Not only did they have most of the titles I've found at other sites, they had a nice selection I hadn't seen anywhere else, in particular, the complete collection of original Sherlock Holmes novels all in one compendium, and in Palm Reader format, just how I like.