Sunday, October 31, 2010
The release of the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook made the sale of eBooks rise in popularity and profitability. This relatively new area of sales has dramatically changed the face and the future of book publishing. The economical and efficient way to produce an eBook is responsible for their popularity. A digital book does not have to go to a printer, the book does not have to be bound or shipped. This removes the middle-man companies from the publishing industry, lowering the cost of production. Now, a consumer can obtain an eBook quickly and at an extremely low price.
The low prices of digital books only help to increase their popularity in the face of this struggling economy. A hardcover copy of the popular book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown costs $26.95 at Borders, while the eBook version only costs $11.99. The choice for most people is obvious. College students are also taking advantage of the lower prices. So far, English majors have benefitted the most, with many of the literary classics available for as low as 95 cents. However, books on biology, psychology, education, music and philosophy are now available in digital form. The digital developments in publishing have drastically decreased the financial burden on many students and there is no sign of slowing down.
I thought it would be good to share some of the advantages eBooks have over printed books.
1. They're quicker to obtain. If you want specific information and it's available in a book, you can purchase an eBook and download it immediately. Instead of waiting for a printed book to be delivered, you can assess this information now.
2. eBooks are more easily updated and upgraded. Information changes rapidly today. Books on many subjects can become dated very quickly. eBooks can be easily and quickly kept up to date. When you order an eBook, it can be the most up-to-the-minute information available.
3. You usually get far more than just the book. Most eBooks are sold with bonuses and related information that usually don't come with the purchase of a traditional book. You might pay the same or even a bit more for an eBook, but you usually get more, too.
4. eBooks take up less space. Instead of a bulky library, you can fit literally thousands of books on your computer. It also makes it easier to share this information with family and coworkers.
5. eBooks don't use up trees. Except when you print one out--something I usually do for booklets and special reports--eBooks use very few natural resources. We save trees and help reduce pollution from pulp mills.
6. They're more portable. You can have quick and easy access to hundreds of books on your desktop computer, notebook or eBook reader. They're much easier to take with you than traditional tomes.
7. References can be hot-linked. Easy links to Web sites and other references can be placed in an electronic book. While reading, you can click on hot links to other places to find out more. With the proliferation of wireless networks, this will become even more useful.
8. You can custom brand them. Other people's eBooks can be branded with your name and you can allow others to brand YOUR eBooks with THEIR name. There are many viral eBooks and reports that the creators will often allow you to give away or sell, with your name or company's name shown on the cover or linked at the end.
9. You can do global searches and find information quickly. When you're looking for certain information within a book, you can easily find it using the find feature. It saves you time and aggravation looking for something in particular.
10. The technology will get better. This is an emerging technology and people are often slow to change. But as the quality of monitors improve and become more compact and mobile, more and more we'll be reading electronic books.
11. Social Highlighting - Being able to highlight quotes and passages and easily find them again is a key feature that eBooks have over paper books.
12. Notes - The ability to create and then easily display archived notes is a big plus for eBooks. Instead of scribbling in small writing in the margins of a paper book, you can type a clear note in your eReader.
13. Look-up of words - Readers of poetry will know that modern poets like to use big and esoteric words. One can enjoyed tapping a word and having the definition displayed below. Very helpful and something that made me thankful.
14. Ability to Tweet & Facebook quotes - @Tooq commented via Twitter that he/she likes the ability to tweet or send to Facebook quotes from books, on the Kindle. This feature was introduced to Kindle 2.5 at the end of April.
15. Search - You can search for topics or keywords inside your eBook, or out on the Web. Similar to the word look-up feature, this is something that augments the reading experience.
I have been using ebook readers for many years, starting with my Palm and Pocket PC devices, laptops. One of the first things I did when my iPad arrived was load up the iBooks and Amazon Kindle applications. The physical book is seen as cumbersome and expensive in comparison to the weightless, cheap and easy to store eBooks. The release of the iPad this past June put pressure on the eReader market, and eReaders drastically dropped in price. Within the last year, hardcover book sales have plummeted. Books developed in an author's imagination are slowly becoming nothing more tangible than a gigabyte. Many mass sales companies are reporting that eBook sales are outnumbering the hardcopy versions. With the release of new technology and a decrease in the cost of eReaders, the digital trend is growing.
Apple iBooks - Apple’s client is visually one of the best I have ever seen in an ebook reader as they model the physical book experience with a wooden bookshelf background, physical page dimensions shown on the edges to give you a sense of depth, two page real book looking layout in landscape mode with a shadowed center spine area, and page turning animations. When you launch iBooks in landscape mode it will be clear to you that you are reading an ebook while other ebook applications still appear as if you are reading a document or web page.
While reading a book you will find options in the top right (tap once on the display) for brightness (slider bar), font type and size (5 font types and ten sizes), and opening up the search box. In the upper left are buttons for the library and table of contents. When you jump to view the table of contents then a red flag labeled Resume will appear over on the right so you can jump right back to where you were reading. Along the bottom you will find the page number, with total number of pages shown, along with a slider bar to quickly tap and slide to various parts of the book. To turn a page you simply slide your finger from right to left or left to right. Tapping, holding, and sliding along words in the book give you options for dictionary, bookmark, and search.
Amazon Kindle - I owned both first and second generation Amazon Kindle devices. The iPad application is pretty good, but the Kindle Store is not integrated into the application. When you launch the Amazon Kindle application (iTunes link) you will be given the option to login or create an account. Tapping on the info button brings up a menu that includes settings, help, about, learn, contact support, and more. The only settings here on the Home page are for registering your device and toggling basic reading mode on and off. When basic reading mode is off then you will see page turning animations appear as you read. When you select a book and go to start reading it then tapping on the book brings up a Home button in the top left, bookmark in top right, and bottom row of options. Here you will find option for going back, adding or removing bookmarks, Go to option (cover, table of contents, beginning, or specified location), view options with five font sizes, three background colors (black, white, and sepia), and brightness slider, and finally a sync icon to sync the book to the furthest read location. It is nice to see this Whispersync technology used here so you can read on different devices and not lose your place. Tapping and holding on a word brings up options to add a note or highlight to your ebook. To navigate forward and back in a book you simply slide your finger from right to left or left to right or tap the left or right side of the display. Pinch and zoom is supported on images and in other areas of the application. I like having a sepia background to reduce some of the contrast between black and white and the font looks fine to me. The application is fast and it was easy to get my purchased Kindle content onto the iPad. The Kindle library is quite large and it is great to see this on the iPad.
Kobo - Kobo started out life known as Shortcovers and has evolved into a powerful cross platform ebook client with corporate backing from Borders. You can find Kobo clients for the Mac, PC, iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, and Google Android platforms with a new HD client for the Apple iPad. You can also read their books on dedicated ebook reader devices that support Adobe Digital Editions and the DRM EPUB format. Tapping on the Store tab actually opens up a store in the Kobo application itself rather than taking you out to the web browser. Just Released titles appear with book covers along the top with options to scroll right and left to see more. You can tap on the bottom left to sort books by bestsellers, price (low to high), rating, title (A-Z or Z-A). When you tap the I’m Reading tab you will be taken to a pop up with black background and book covers on top of the books that you have opened on your bookshelf. You then tap the book you want to jump back into reading. The book opens up in nearly full screen with just the signal, time, and battery bar up top. Tapping once on the center area of text slides down and up toolbars at the top and bottom. Along the top toolbar you will find buttons for Back, Table of Contents, Overview, and Bookmarks. Along the bottom you will find a slider bar taking up most of the left that lets you quickly navigate in the book. Over on the right are icons for fonts, brightness, bookmarks, and toolbar wrench. Tapping the font icon shows you there are four available font sizes with a font size slider giving you the option to choose from nine font sizes. Tapping brightness lets you toggle the night reading mode (white text on black background) and also use a slider bar to adjust brightness. Tapping the bookmark icon sets a bookmark and tapping it again removes the bookmark. The wrench icon opens up display settings where you can turn Kobo styling on or off. Kobo styling enables font and margin styling optimized for the iPad screen, whereas leaving it off uses the publisher’s original styling. You can also choose a page transition style (none, page flip, page fade, and page curl). To turn pages you can tap the left or right side or slide your finger from left to right and right to left. Sliding up and down does nothing for navigation.
The aesthetic pleasures of physically holding a book cannot be replaced by digital technology. Sliding a finger across a computerized screen cannot compare to the anticipation of turning the pages of your favorite novel. Without hardcopy books, a library would only be rows of computers and eReaders. Publishing companies would have to shut down their printers and lay off their distributers, sacrificing thousands of jobs for progress. The new digital age is upon us and only moving forward.
It's Gonna Be B.E.D.L.A.M. On The Book Shelves