An eBook is an electronic version of a book that has been printed conventionally and can be easily retrieved and read using Personal Computers (PC) and eBook Readers. The Personal Computer gets to access and read the eBooks with the help of software applications collectively known as eBook readers. Some eBook readers come specifically as digital devices whose role is restricted to reading the books. Examples of eBook readers include Kindle Voyage, Kobo Aura HD, and Nook Simple Touch. Among the important aspects that one should know about eBooks are; their history, different formats of eBooks, their advantages and disadvantages and what the market share of eBooks is.
History of eBooks
EBooks have an extensive history. Each change in their history marks an important milestone. EBook readers appeared in the market for the first time in the year 1998 the most common being the Gemstar’s Rocket eBook Reader. In the year 2000, several eBooks were released into the market and this included Ride the Bullet and Stephen Kings Horror Novel. Their performance in the market was reflected as poor. The demand for eBooks was poor by the year 2003 as paper books were highly preferred by readers. Some eBook selling companies closed down their activities as the business had no positive future. An example of a company that closed selling them is Gemstar’s.
The electronic ink technology was utilized first in the year 2004 by Sony when they released the first eBook readers with the technology. People could now read the words easily which was not the case with the initial readers which used black lit screens. Amazon.com in the year 2007 released the Kindle which was a reader that did well in the market.
By the year 2009, eBooks for iPhones started being sold by booksonboard.com. In the same year, eBooks could be borrowed from libraries through a link that was created by Sony with the help of Overdrive Digital Network. Kindle 2 was released in 2009 and was made available in more than 100 countries around the globe and Nook eBook reader was released by Barnes and Nobel Company.
2010 marked an important milestone as it is the time when more eBooks were developed did well in terms of sales. Taking a specific example, iBook store sold about half a million eBooks in a period of one month. Since then, the trend has been positive with companies such as Apple joining the trade.
Formats of eBooks
The most common formats of eBooks are PDF, AZW, LIT, EPUB, ODF, and MOBI. Each format differs from the other in aspects of compatibility. PDF was invented by Adobe and it has high compatibility with most eBook readers PCs. Some of the applications that view PDFs easily are Adobe Reader and Xpdf. ODF which means Open Document Format is a good format with high compatibility for Open Office which is an alternative to Microsoft Office.
MOBI format is portable with Mobipocket Reading software which works well with smartphones and personal assistant devices (PDAs). LIT was developed for Microsoft Reader Software and works well with mobile devices of Microsoft. AZW is exclusive for Kindle readers. Lastly, EPUB is based on XML and XHTML language and is fully portable with Firefox EPUBReader and quick Reader.
When acquiring eBooks, it is important to select the format that works well with your device as each format is different. When acquiring software to read eBooks, it is good to select versions that are protected by the manufacturer for the safety of you device as well as the eBooks acquired.
Advantages of using eBooks
It takes very little time to purchase, download and start reading an eBook. They save a lot of time as one does not have to go to bookshops or ask for shipment to be done. Secondly, eBooks are friendly to the environment as they do not require papers which are acquired from cutting down trees.
EBooks are always available when one needs to access certain information. The requirements are digital devices and internet access only. The value of eBooks is very high. EBooks help save on space compared to other books. They do not require space to be stored as they are safe in electronic storage devices both primary and secondary.
The books are highly portable meaning one can be able to move around with a whole library collection only in a laptop, CD or an eBook Reader whose weight is not a concern. In addition, one can get to read the books everywhere especially when using small electronics phone and notebooks.
With eBooks, information is searchable and the books are very interactive. Some contain videos and animations with more information as well as links that can act as a guide to information that is relevant. They can be very instrumental when used in research studies
Disadvantages of using eBooks
EBook reading devices are expensive to acquire as they are technological devices with good capabilities. The devices used in reading require power to run and without this they become irrelevant. In addition, the software applications used have to be compatible with one’s device and they also pose some cyber security vulnerabilities. The light emitted from the screens when reading can cause eye strains and headaches meaning one cannot get to read for a longer period of time.
Most eBooks are not acquired permanently meaning they have no life. One gets to make subscriptions and once it expires, the access to the book is limited. To get access to the book, an extra subscription has to be made. Printed books are acquired permanently.
Market Share of eBooks
Digital books market is currently dominated by Amazon which takes about 74% of the market. Other sellers share the remaining percentage.
The main challenge that faces eBook companies is hacking and piracy. Hackers have the ability to hack company websites and illegally produce numerous copies of different eBooks which challenge the sales of eBook companies.
What is an eBook? The description above discusses in details what eBooks are, their development as well as the trend in the society. Simply, they are books in an electronic format.