You know the drill. A new book comes out and you want to buy it for your Kindle/Nook/Noid/Android device. But, for whatever reason - it's not available at Amazon Kindle and it isn't available at the Nook bookstore either.
But for some strange reason, the book IS available at some other 'no name' eBook retailer like Diesel eBook Store or some other online site.
Once you enter into these worlds, there are all sorts of potential issues you'll run into - namely formats you might not be familiar with - and worse yet, formats your reader cannot display by default.
The first line of defense here is using Calibre as your ebook organizer, converter and dispatcher to your e-reader device. Calibre will dispense with disparate non-DRM formats with ease - converting them to your reader's native format and sending them over to the device.
But what about that nasty DRMed stuff like Adobe Digital Editions (.acsm files)? How the hell do you get THAT stuff on your device and working?
Adobe Digital (ADE) is becoming a very popular DRM book format - even Google is starting to use it. It ties your book purchases to your AdobeID - so you can log in wherever the format is supported, and access your book. I've done it on up to four devices without it complaining so that's good.
The Good News(tm) is that if you have a straight up book reader like the Nook, the Sony e-Reader, etc. (Kindle users - I think you're currently out of luck; I don't see any support for ADE on the Kindle) then you have native support for ADE format and you can purchase ebooks in this format.
Before we look at disparate devices (like tablets or phones), let's do a quick look at the ADE format and how it works.
When you buy a book from say Diesel eBooks, you are sent an .ACSM formatted file (it's a couple of kilobytes in size - very small). This is an XML document that contains information on where and how to fetch the book itself. It is a pointer file - and none of the book is acutally in it.
If you have Adobe Digital Editions installed on your PC when you download the file, the acsm file is parsed automatically and you are prompted to log into your Adobe account. Once logged in, your book starts to download. Once it's done, it appears on your "shelf" and you're ready to read it.
Depending on your reader, the acsm file will be parsed automatically and the native application that supports ADE will run - prompting you to log in and subsequently download the book.
For many people, it's a transparent process. Anywhere you log into your Adobe account, you can access that book.
But, if you're a dabbler of hacking like me, you probably have an Android tablet and/or phone - where you read books via the Kindle or Nook app (both totally worthless in this situation). There are TONS of e-reader apps in the market, but which one will actually support this odd DRMed format?
First, go to the Market and download the free version of "Aldiko" - it's a nice ebook reader application.
Copy the ACSM file you downloaded from the eBook store to your tablet/phone SD card.
Use your favorite file manager (Astro, etc.) on the device to open the ACSM file. Alkido will launch as the handler of the file and prompt you to log in with your Adobe ID. The book will then download.
Initially, you won't see the book on the "virtual" shelf - just hit the HOME icon, and chose the list view. Your book will appear here. You can LONG PRESS this item, and get DETAILS.
In the details screen, click the line that says COLLECTIONS (I know, it doesn't look clickable, but it is). Add the book to your FAVORITES. Now it should appear on the shelf.
This method should work JUST fine on any Android device - be it phone or tablet. I put my purchased book on both me and my wife's Noids (Nooks running CyanogenMod 7 - Gingerbread), the wife's Droid 1 and my HTC Thunderbolt.
Adobe loves Apple - so surely there is an equivalent on the iDevices to do the same trick; if anyone has that info, please post it as a follow up.
There are many books unavailable at the "big ebook stores" - free and pay - that just require a few more steps to get working.
For unprotected PDF files, NOTHING beats ezPDF on the Android platform. WELL WORTH every penny you pay for it. Don't be seduced by Free PDF readers - this is the one and only app I can heartily recommend for e-reading PDF files.
If you have a Kindle, I cannot recommend Calibre enough. It's free, painless and incredibly useful for getting .doc/.txt/.html files converted as well as ePub and Mobi files.
For homes with mulitple reading devices that don't feel they should have to pay twice for a book - you can deprotect most Amazon Kindle books you own (you cannot deprotect those you get from someone else) by using an early version of Kindle For PC (current versions have been patched to stop you) and a couple of Python scripts (google 'unswindle' to get the goods). You will have to have Python installed (free) on your PC. You just run the script, it loads up Kindle for PC, you open the book - then close the app. The script deprotects the book and gives you a nice clean copy you can now read on any of your readers/tablets/phones. It sounds harder than it is.
Please share your e-Book purchasing, deploying, hacking, etc. tricks and tips. I'm sure everyone would find them useful!