A revolution is going on, not many customers fully realize it yet but writers do. Ebooks and epublishing are growing. This changes the way we perceive writing, reading, books and how to sell them.
On different boards I’ve had discussions about ebooks, ereaders and epublishing, discussions that have been going stronger and stronger over the past couple of months. It is no longer a new thing, something some geeks thoughts of. Ebooks have established themselves in the market. People are scared, curious and uncertain about the whole thing and although I might not be the most knowledgeable about things I will share what I do know.
So what caused this revolution?
Simply said, ebooks and ereaders. Though a longer answer shows more reasons why the change is happening now.
Ebooks and ereaders?
Ebooks are digital books, they can come in different formats but the base is the same. Ebook stands for electronic book. You can read books on your smartphone, your laptop, your PC or your special ereader.
An ereader is a small device designed to read ebooks on. They might not be able to do as much as a laptop or phone but they do have other advantages. Two big book sellers in the US both have their own ereader, Amazon has their Kindle and Barnes & Nobles their Nook, but other companies are catching along too. Sony with their Sony Touch is one of the better known brands that is also tagging along on this success. But we can also see some specialized brands like BeBook and Bookeen. (source)
I love to hold books, to feel them, why would I buy ebooks?
For one they are usually cheaper, though not all the time, and a lot of websites offer free ebooks from traditionally published or self published writers. Another thing is that a lot of classics have run out of copyright, these books are found for free as ebooks. (links will be at the bottom)
No longer losing your bookmarks. Most readers that you can read ebooks on (ereaders or other devices) will safe where you left off. So you no longer have to search through the book to where you were if you accidentally leave it open and you lose your bookmark. Also most ereaders will let you take notes inside the book without you having to scribble at the sides of the pages.
Another good thing about ebooks is scaling. If your eyes are getting tired of reading a small font you used to have to put on glasses to read comfortable again. With ebooks you can change the font to a size that is comfortable for you. No longer you have to put on your glasses, you can sit back and just change the font.
I would love to read ebooks but why would I buy an ereader when I can read ebooks on my phone or laptop, or even better my tablet (like the Ipad)?
Because that is what they are made for. Okay, maybe not an answer to justify paying $150 to $400 for it.
Let’s look at it from a different angle.
What some people find important is that on the newer ereaders they have a special screen called E Ink. An electronic “ink” screen. No longer you have to look at glaring pixels that make your eyes ache if you stare too long. It is fluid and looks just like a real book. Before I bought my Kindle I went up to Waterstones to look at the screens and one of them had a picture stored on it. I tried looking real close, trying to figure out how the screen worked because it looked like a real black and white picture to me. I was baffled. I have no problem looking at a screen for a long time but this impressed me to no end. It looked really nice. The downside to this screen is that you always need a light with you, just like a real book.
Most ereaders will easily run a couple of days (or weeks) on one single charge when used daily (used for reading only, I’ll come back to this later), it won’t just die on you when you go away for the weekend. Even long train trips and flights are no problem for them, you can keep reading. Laptops and tablets only last a couple of hours before you need to charge them, Ipads about 10 to 12 according to some. A smartphone might last you a day but that is it. Ereaders last days, if not weeks on one charge. Of course paperbacks outdo all the others as they never run out of “battery”.
Ereaders are about the size of a thin paperback and the weight of one. So, no matter if you’re reading a short story of 2000 words or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it weights the same. The screen of most ereaders is also about the size most books use for the text on a page. Laptops and tablets are a lot bigger (not counting the really small netbooks that were really popular a couple of years ago) and heavier to carry around. The smartphones on the other hand are a lot smaller, too small according to some, and have a higher resolution, usually meaning you will have to fiddle with all sorts of options to scale the letters to a readable size.
A lot of ereaders offer the option to look for a word in the built-in dictionary as you are reading. You don’t have to close the book you just search the word on the go. Also if you are looking for a special sentence or group of words you can do that too, most ereaders offer the possibility to look for them, easy if you’re sure you read it somewhere in the book but just don’t remember where.
And last but not least, you can carry 1 book as easy as taking 1.000 books with you. It no longer matters how many books you have you can take them all with you on holidays or other places without having to worry about the weight of all the books. Especially if you read a lot or just like to read different books at the same time, you can do that on an ereader without having to carry around more.
But if they can all do that why would I choose between different brands?
Some ereaders offer more than others and it depends on what you want.
Touch screen, some ereaders (like the Nook and the Sony Touch) offer touch screen, making flipping the pages easier and keeping a bit of the “real book” feeling. I personally didn’t like it when I played with it as I kept selecting text instead of flipping the page.
The Nook colour offers the possibility of a colour screen but it doesn’t have the easier on the eyes E Ink, they go back to the same screen as laptops and smartphones, a backlit screen.
Both the Nook and the Kindle (US only for now) offer the possibility to lend someone a book you have bought on your ereader for up to 14 days before it automatically returns.
Some ereaders offer you the possibility of internet. Some offer wifi and others 3G, or both. This usually includes a basic webbrowser that you can use to directly buy books online or simple browsing. You can check your email, update facebook or just search for something on google. The internet is not always available in every country, do research this if you find this important. At first I went through my battery in a couple of days on my Kindle, though this was mainly because I kept updating books on it and did some heavy browsing. I now mainly use mobile versions of websites and the battery is handling this a lot better.
Some ereaders offer a music player on their device and others offer a text to speech program.
This was the simple reason. Because of these new ways of reading books a change had to happen. Traditional publishers needed to change their ways of going around this but were reluctant to do so, some were faster than others and most of them are changing the way they look at the marketing. But in the short time that they needed to acclimate to this new way a couple of others offered options to writers which gave them the power over their own works.
More on this will be in the second part.
Websites which offer free ebooks.
Project Gutenberg offers books who’s copyright has expired.
Baen Free Library offers free ebooks from fantasy writers.
Smashwords offers all sorts of new ebooks for free but some paid
Manybooksoffers a range of free ebooks