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What is an eBook?
If you look eBook up in the dictionary, you’d find the following: “A book composed in or converted to digital format for display on a computer screen or handheld device.”
But here’s the thing: If an eBook is simply a book in a digital form that, technically, qualifies many things that aren’t actually eBooks. It also doesn’t truly define what makes an eBook an eBook. So what does?
What is an eBook?
An eBook is a non-editable, reflowable book that is converted to a digital format to be read on any digital device such as computer screens or mobile devices.
To have a better understanding of what an eBook really is, let’s take a look at the characteristics of an eBook.
Characteristics of an eBook
For starters, eBooks are files that you can read on a digital device – a tablet, smartphone, computer, etc. But again, considering other files can be read on digital devices (i.e. word documents) eBooks have specific characteristics that differentiate them.
eBooks shouldn’t be editable
One distinct characteristic of an eBook: the text should not be editable. An eBook should always be converted into a format that ensures it’s uneditable. With thousands of people having access to it on digital devices, people could potentially change any content without the author’s permission. So, in order to qualify as an actual eBook, text should not be able to be changed in any way, just like a paperback book.
eBooks are reflowable (with an exception)
Another important characteristic is that true eBooks should be reflowable. This means that no matter what the size of the screen you’re viewing the eBook on, it will always fit your screen; text will remain formatted with line breaks and chapters and images will resize to fit the proportions of the device you’re reading on.
There is one exception though: PDFs. Considering PDFs can’t be edited, but they aren’t reflowable, they technically don’t qualify as eBooks according to the characteristics that differentiate eBooks. But with businesses taking advantage of the ease of PDF downloads and distribution, PDFs have become “unofficial” eBooks and are still widely used eBook formats.
Popular eBook devices
An eBook can be read on a variety of digital devices; any digital screen really. Below are a few of the most popular devices that eBooks are viewed on: • Computers, • Tablets, • Smartphones.
In recent years though, a device called an eReader (electronic reader) was developed specifically for reading and storing eBooks. An eReader is simply a handheld device that eBooks can be read on. Some of the most popular eReader devices include: • Amazon’s Kindle, • Rakuten’s Kobo, • Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
Some of these devices were made with built-in lighting so that readers can continue to read once they no longer have access to light. Unfortunately, some of the models don’t have this feature. For convenience, companies like Amazon and Kobo created apps that allow you to continue reading from any device that has the app downloaded. This means that you can start reading from your eReader and when it gets dark, you can finish on your computer, smartphone, or tablet if needed.
what is an ebook: eReaders
You might be thinking, “Why purchase an eReader when I can easily use my smartphone or tablet?”
Well, there are a few perks eReaders have that those devices don’t.
- They have great battery life. In fact, their battery life can last for weeks depending on usage.
- eReaders can hold thousands of books! I don’t know about you, but my iPhone storage fills up pretty fast. There’s no way I could store all of the books I want to read and then some. This isn’t a problem if you have an eReader.
- They’re easy to read outside. Ever been soaking up the sun while trying to read an article on your computer or smartphone, but you can’t because the LED is basically unreadable? Yeah, eReaders don’t have that problem.
There are thousands of retailers that you can buy eBooks from. Some of the most common, eReader-compatible retailers include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. You can also go directly to a company or author’s website – many times, authors will promote their eBook on their own site.
Benefits of eBooks
With eBooks introduced to the world of reading, have you ever wondered what could possibly make them better than traditional paperback books? I have, and here are just a few of the benefits of eBooks:
eBooks save space
Some people are fortunate enough to have big libraries to store their books. But for the bookworms who don’t have that extra room, eBooks save a tremendous amount of space by allowing readers to store thousands of books on one device. No more searching for space to store your new books.
eBooks save money
I know this one caught your eye, because who doesn’t want to save money? With no manufacturing or shipping costs, eBooks are cheaper than paperback books. The average price of an eBook rings in at less than $5, whereas paperback books are generally more than $10. Might not seem like much, but it adds up if you’re an avid reader.
eBooks save the environment
Quite possibly my favorite benefit of eBooks. The book-printing industry consumes 16 million tons of paper each year; that’s 32 million trees. And don’t get me started on the amount of pollution that factories release into the air. Talk about an enormous carbon footprint. With eBooks making up around 30 percent of book sales, they not only save energy and reduce pollution, but they also save approximately 9.6 million of those 32 million trees annually! A win for everyone.
eBooks are portable and convenient
Anything that makes life easier for people is attractive, and convenience is a real crowd pleaser. eBooks are portable AND convenient. With a supported eBook device, you can have a library at your fingertips. Carrying around your favorite books on your iPad, eReader, smartphone, or table (all lightweight devices!) sounds a lot easier than lugging around a thousand paperback books if you ask me.