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Printing eBooks

We are often asked how to print an eBook. Well here is my attempt at an answer:

You are normally only able to print a PDF file, assuming that printing is not disabled (see below). All the other eBook formats cannot be printed. If you buy your book from somewhere like Fictionwise or eBookAd, you buy the title rather than the format (there is no DRM), which means that you can download any or all of the formats you want at any time. So for one price you can download, say, the Mobipocket to read on your PDA, and the Adobe PDF version to print. If you then decide to buy a new ebook reading device, even years later, you should be able to download the correct files for it from your bookshelf. Fictionwise, especially, will almost certainly support new formats as they are introduced (although the desire is to have less formats rather than more, so roll on the ubiquitous, non-proprietary, universal ebook format).

However, if the PDF file has any kind of DRM (Digital Rights Management) it is likely that printing is disallowed or limited in some way (for example, you can only print 10 pages per day). So if you buy one of our PDFs from Amazon, eBooks.com, or other eBook retailers that sell DRM’d books, it is unlikely that you will be able to print it.

It is worth pointing out that an eBook is meant to be read on a screen of some description, and not printed. It kind of defeats many of the reasons for eBooks, such as saving paper (and trees and forests), or searchability, or adjustable fonts…