Epubs on the Nook

Dear reader,

You may be in the possession of a Nook, the e-reader brought to the world by Barnes and Noble. Of course, you can acquire your books through their store, but suppose you find a free e-book somewhere that is not in their store, and you still would like to read it on your precious e-reader. Websites like the Gutenberg project, smashwords and others come to mind as sources for free e-books.

First, you download the books in epub format. Then you do the following:

1. plug in your USB cable to the nook and then into your USB input on your computer. This should be fairly straightforward
2. Wait until windows recognises the device
3. Right-click on Start and go to Explore
4. Locate the e-book folder on your computer
5. Find the My Documents folder on your nook
6. Grab, drag and drop the e-book (or e-books) from your computer into the My Documents folder,
7. “Safe remove” your Nook from the computer and then unplug it.
8. On the Nook do a Search For New Content
9. Your new files should show up in the My Documents folder.

If this does not work, or your Nook will not open the file, you will have to download Adobe Digital Editions. Now why is that?

Here’s the problem: even though there is an open source format, ePub, there are slightly different ePub formats with DRM, and each eReader reads a different format of ePub. Each eReader is trying to be unique. For example, the Sony eReader supports: DRM-free text such as BBeB(LRF),PDF, Text, ePub, DRM-protected text such as secure PDF and ePUb. The Nook supports the following formats: eReader PDB, the Barnes & Noble proprietary DRM format, ePub with Barnes & Noble ADEPT DRM, and Adobe ePub DRM, and PDF with Adobe DRM.

A quick word on DRM.
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, which are encrypted formats that providers use for copyrighted material to prevent their products from being stolen, to prevent you from copying, and using downloaded content unless you have purchased the product. There are several different DRM formats, as you can see from the above list of formats.

What we need to help us is what is called in software parlance, a “bridge” program. A software program that can read a multitude of formats depending on what format the ePub was published in, and then output that ePub in another format that can be used on your Nook, for example.

Since we are loading a Nook, if you look at what formats the Nook supports, Adobe is mentioned a couple of times. Let’s look there.

Adobe scored a home run in the past, by making a reader only for PDF’s, giving it away for free, and then selling the editor at a high price to create PDF’s. Lo and behold, they are trying the same trick again with ePubs.

They made a flash program called, Adobe Digital Editions. This is free, downloadable, software for your PC. The program is set up as a library to manage your eReader content, and what it allows you to do is exchange your ePubs between your various eReader devices, like your Nook and PC. Sounds like a bridge program to me, and it is.

Which brings us to the second problem, Adobe typically has high priced software, so they want to make sure anyone using their free software, gives them at least some marketing information. In order to make everything work, we need to establish an account with Adobe.

I recommend you sign up for three accounts on line. First, the Barnes and Noble account with your credit card to set up easy book purchasing for your Nook, you should have already done this. This will give you freebies when you go to a Barnes & Noble store also. Second, a Google Books account so you can download books into your Google library, and last an Adobe account that will allow you to set up Adobe Digital Editions. You can sign up for the Adobe account during the install or before, don’t skip this step.

After you download Adobe Digital Editions, using the program, since it is a flash program, is a little quirky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a nice program.

When the program first loads, you have to authorize your computer with the program, in other words, sync your PC with the program, which requires you to have an Adobe account.

If you connect your Nook to a USB port on your computer, the Adobe program will not see the Nook until you authorize this as a device in the program. This is done under the library menu with “Authorize Computer.” Once you authorized your Nook with the program, the Nook will appear as an icon in the left side bar.

Adobe Digital Editions with the Nook Authorized in the left sidebar

Your books will appear in the right window. The program allows you to move books between any of your devices by dragging the book from the right window to the device in the left sidebar.

There’s one last gotcha. You have to move your downloaded book, the ePub file, to the “My Digital Editions” folder, created when you installed the Adobe Digital Editions, located in the “My Documents,” directory in Windows, then you have to tell Adobe Digital Editions to “Add Item to Library” in the Library menu. Your book will then appear in the right window.

As a bonus, the Adobe Digital Editions is also a very nice eReader for reading ePubs on your PC.

Adobe Digital Editions used as an eReader

On the Nook, ePubs are stored in a different folder than the books you purchase from Barnes and Noble.  The ePubs books are stored under “My Library” in “My Documents,” and the Barnes and Noble books are stored under “My Library” in the “My B&N Library”.   This article only concerns ePub books, not Barnes & Noble books you get from the Barnes and Noble web site.  The B&N books are downloaded to your Nook over your wireless connection.   If you try to load them with Adobe Digital Editions, you’ll get a “you don’t have permission” error message, because of the B&N DRM.

One last thing, when you plug the Nook into your computer through a USB port don’t forget to disconnect the Nook with the “Safely Remove Hardware” button in the Windows lower right task bar, before pulling the Nook plug from the computer.

And there you are. More books for you to enjoy.

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