I received a Kindle for Christmas and can't figure out the best ways to select books other than through Amazon or perhaps borrowing from the public library. I love to read, so I am desperate for your suggestions.
- Rachel Reader
Dear Ms. Reader: As an avid reader myself, I can certainly empathize with your dilemma. I began my eReader experience with a Nook and graduated to an iPad and have, though trial and error and lots of friendly advice, come up with some ideas for you to try.
• Book sharing: EBook Fling brings Kindle and Nook owners together in a sharing pool.
You're allowed to share books you've purchased for up to 14 days. To participate, just list your available books and earn credits for each one you lend to someone else. You can also buy credits and use them to borrow books from other subscribers. Signing up is free, and the e-books can be read on a iPad, e-reader, Android, Blackberry and iPhone.
• E-bookstores: sources of free e-books include the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader and Kimbo devices and apps. If you're a Nook reader, you also can access free of charge any e-book up to an hour per day when in a Barnes and Noble store.
• Libraries: Nook and Sony and later this year the Kindle will allow you to borrow e-books from some local libraries after you download the free Adobe Digital Editions software to your computer.
An added benefit is you don't have to pay late charges as you do with "real" books; after the due date rolls around, the e-book simply becomes inactive. However, you can renew the loan if no one else has reserved that book.
• Rentals: (This is a real-time books tip.) Try a service such as BookSwim; it rents hardbacks and paperbacks and works much like Netflix DVD loans. Create a list you wish to read, and the first few come to you via mail. When you get through reading, just return the books in the prepaid mailer and BookSwim sends you the next bunch. Also check out www.booksfree.com for a similar service.
• Readers: If you know of other ways to obtain e-books, please email me so I can share your information in a future column.
(It's that time again -- Tax Tips for your 2012 returns. Hopefully, these will help you to save some money when communicating come April with Uncle Sam. Deduct more premiums for long-term care. Age 71 and older can now claim up to $4,370; seniors 61-70 up to $3,500, while folks 51-60 can deduct up to $1,310.)
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer email@example.com.