|Introduction to ebooks|
The word ‘ebook’ is an abbreviation of the term ‘electronic book’. In other words, this is a manuscript that has been typeset for easy reading, converted into a particular format, and made available online. You, as the user, download the ebook off the Internet and use software on your computer, or a hand-held device, to view and read the book.
Until recently, ebooks shared a bad reputation with self-publishing, but that too has changed. This is because the way the world communicates has changed. Many interactions are electronic nowadays, such as email, online shopping, Internet searches for information, advertising over the Internet, personal and corporate websites, and Internet banking.
But why would you want an ebook rather than a printed book? Printed books are surely easier on the eye and far more comfortable to read in bed!
For readers, ebooks have these benefits over printed books –
• They’re cheaper
• They’re quick to download
• They take very little computer space to store
• They’re easy to navigate when looking for particular information
• They are mobile – wherever your mobile device is, there are your ebooks
• They can be printed if necessary
• If you like the ebook, you can buy the more expensive printed version
• If you don’t like the ebook, you know you won’t like the printed version
• They’re cheaper to publish
• The royalties are higher
• Sales and marketing are Internet based, which is always cheaper
• They’re easier to distribute
• International distribution is much easier and more accessible than for printed books
• You can test the market before investing in an expensive print run
• The reading public is becoming very comfortable with reading electronic material
There are a number of ebook formats out there, some that require specialized software and others that require special devices known as ereaders. However, most ebook suppliers offer their ebooks in a range of formats so you can choose the format that best suits your electronic circumstances.
For those of us who go for the vanilla approach to technology, there are three formats that are easy enough to use on all kinds of computers –
Most ebooks produced in South Africa are supplied in PDF and EPUB format.
Where to get help
• whether you're converting an existing book into an ebook or whether you're creating one from scratch
• if converting an existing book, the current page size and page count
• if creating one from scratch, the word count of your current document, plus a representative sample chapter to assess the nature of the material and the kind of formating that will be required (can be in PDF or Word format)
• format preferences, if any (PDF, ePUB)