What is an ebook?
A short form of the word electronic.
A lengthy recorded communication produced by the mind of an author. It can be a work of fiction (untrue) or non-fiction (true) or a combination of both.
So an ebook is any book that is stored in the language of electronics (binary).
What makes an ebook human readable?
Fortunately, for those of us that are unable to communicate in binary, there is ebook reader software that is able to retrieve and communicate the content of the ebook in its original language. These programs are used on dedicated ereaders, desktop personal computers, as well as an ever increasing number of mobile computing devices (cell phones, notebooks, netbooks, tablets).
ebook file formats
In order for the ebook reader software to accurately render the ebook content in a human readable form, the ebook must be in a file format that the software is designed for. There are many ebook formats. The two most popular formats are pdf (portable document format) created by Adobe Systems and epub (electronic publication) developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).
What is the main difference between pdf and epub?
The pdf format maintains the way an ebook looks regardless of what device you view it on. The layout of the text and graphics is always the same. The text font is always the same. The ebook is viewed exactly as the author / publisher intended. The pdf format works very well on devices with medium to large displays. Reading pdf formatted ebooks, on mobile devices that have small displays, can be an unpleasant experience that involves much zooming and scrolling.
The epub format retains only a limited amount of layout and flows the text and graphics to fit the size of the viewing area. Text, font size and type, can be changed by the reader. The epub format works very well with mobile devices that have small displays.
What are some advantages of ebooks
- They save space and are easy to carry. You can keep more than 16,000 ebooks on a 16GB SD Card roughly the size of a postage stamp.
- They are searchable. Most ebook reader software has a search function.
- You can shop for ebooks wherever you have internet access 24 hours a day.
- Internet delivery means no trip to the book store, and no shipping charge.
- Near instant delivery (with a high speed internet connection).
- The cost of an ebook is generally less than a printed copy (although they are still more expensive than they should be in my opinion).
- Many ebooks are free of cost. It is safe to say that there are more free ebooks available on the internet than there are books in an average city library (when you include out-of-copyright ebooks). Thousands of free ebooks both contemporary and copyright expired can be found using websites like free-online-novels.com.
Will ebooks eventually become more popular than printed books?
I believe that they will. It may take a generation or two, but the advantages of ebooks are compelling. The greatest force holding back a mass exodus to ebooks is the sentimental connection that people have to printed books. The human tendency to connect the medium with that wonderfully written book they read in days gone by.
Free ebook reader software
- Calibre (can display all the major ebook formats)
- Adobe Reader (the best for pdf)
- Adobe® Digital Editions (pdf, epub)
- Sony Reader Library (pdf, epub)