Ebooks – An Insight

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Self-Publishing Your eBook

They have only been around a few years: Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Sony Reader, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Apple iPad, and already they have seriously changed how eBooks are ePublished. In case you have been in a cave technology-wise, all of the above are eReaders (e is for electronic) that are purchased and the books you want are eBooks that are downloaded for a fraction of what a standard book sells for. That is why they are so popular. A book that normally sells for $25 may only be $5. The eReaders also have the benefit of carrying hundreds of books in digital files, so no need for book shelves and books.

All of the standard book method about publishing have gone out the window when it comes to eBooks. This is why ePublishing the book yourself may make you serious money. Many hardbound books are now also eBook versions. There is no real difference between the two, content-wise.

An eBook is an XML doc. Converting a Word .doc or PDF type file is generally what happens and one must know certain guidelines while you are in either type file before conversion, because an eReader is different. The biggest sellers of eBooks are Sony Reader and Apple iPad, Amazon’s Kindle is the third largest. A printed book version with an ISBN number is NOT the same ISBN used when the same book is converted to eBook, in fact, the ISBN is not needed by some sellers (both Sony and Apple do require it). Even if you had a publisher of your hardbound book, you, as the author, can sell the ebook version at 70% royalty. The publisher of the hardcopy is only in control of that version.

You can upload your .doc\PDF directly in Amazon’s Kindle, setup an account, set the price and royalty. If the upload is approved, it goes online and is sold in the USA, in UK, in Germany. It is easy. Amazon also will send the book to other eBook sellers like iPad, Barnes and Noble etc. Unlike B&N, there is no limit as to the size in MB of the file. It’s competitor, the Nook, is a Barnes and Noble product. You can do the same with it on their site once you sign up, setup etc. They only take files no larger than 20 MB. They sell mainly in the US. They do not accept PDF files.

The “Classic” Paper Book.

Paper books offer multiple advantages:

  • They’re easily obtainable (Bookstores are everywhere).

  • They’re easily portable.

  • They don’t normally cause significant eye-strain.

  • They’re cheap.

Okay, that much was obvious. Specifically, some types of content paper books are better for are:

  • Textbooks (or any books which are generally large-format).

  • Picture / Photo books.

Another factor to bear in mind is that paper books don’t need power to function. They can be read anywhere with sufficient light, and are perfect travelling companions for exactly this reason.

The obvious cons are:

  • Paper books are bulky and heavy. Carrying more than 2-3 around can become a chore.

  • You need a light source to read them – another thing that you’ll probably carry around.

  • If you make notes in them, those notes are there to stay (Yes, even pencil. You can always see the imprints, even if you erase every last shred of graphite).

The eBook

eBooks offer the following obvious advantages (assuming you have an ebook reader):

  • They’re easily readable. Most readers offer zoom functions, letter resizing, and so forth.

  • They’re easily portable. You can carry multiple books on one device.

  • They’re much more environmentally friendly. You don’t have to kill a few trees for each book, and let’s not even talk about the ink. Recycling only goes so far.

  • Note-taking is much more powerful, and the notes you write can be found and referenced quickly and easily. And they don’t have to be permanent.

  • Lighting conditions essentially become meaningless. Many readers incorporate display lighting allowing you to read whenever and whereever you like.

eBooks are useless without a reader. There are a few on the market, such as Amazon’s Kindle, Jinke’s Hanlin reader series, Sony’s eReader series, and a few others. These are mentioned because they incorporate a technology called e-ink, which resembles paper very closely, and eliminates most eye-strain issues.

Some types of books especially suited for a reader are:

  • Novels or non-fiction books without many pictures.

  • Web-sites with html links and cross references.

The disadvantages of ebooks generally stem from the hardware you’re reading them on. If it’s a computer, you’ve got the normal computer problems which detract from your reading pleasure:

  • Eye strain and RSI. Long periods spent in front of a computer are healthy for nobody.

  • Power. Your average laptop has 4-6 hours of battery life.

  • Portability. Why lug a laptop around if you can simply carry a book?

The cons of the reader devices are a little more subtle:

  • You still have battery life to worry about.

  • Nasty software bugs in the reader can cause it to freeze up.

  • They’re not very robust. If you spill
    on them, chances are that’s the end of your reader. Not to mention scratches, dropping them, and so on.

In general, ebooks suffer from other cons as well:

  • They’re not readily available, and format wars are making the decision to buy a reader very difficult. Will you go for the Amazon one, and buy books (only) there? Or the Sony?

  • The pricing model hasn’t been worked out yet, causing some major discrepancies.

Traditional publishers have Brand, and writers have brand, which is supposed to be good, right? The publishing world still deals with intangibles like prestige and reputation. That vast market is crammed with titles all screaming like newborns for the milk of everyone’s attention. Publishing imprints remain an important shortcut for reviewers, purchasing agents and readers as they try to determine what’s worth their limited time and attention. Where am I going with this? I can give 4 major reasons why, as a new writer – you got nothing to lose by self-publishing…


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