Friday, 27 November 2009

EBooks - The current state of affairs and the future for reading

EBooks are becoming increasingly popular. They can now be used on a variety of devices (e.g. mobile devices including handheld Palm Pilots, iPhones, Kindles as well as laptops and desktop computers and others). There are many eBook reader programs (e.g. some well known ones include Adobe, Microsoft, Foxitsoftware, Sony, MobiPocket and Amazon's Kindle readers) and devices.

EBooks have many advantages over conventional printed books. Large libraries of eBooks can be kept on these devices. They can be stored on the device's hard drive or on removable recordable digital media such as CDs DVDs and memory sticks - all very portable.

Perhaps their big strength is their flexibility as they can be produced in many formats that can be used on many electronic devices and they can be produced professionally with state of the art software or produced by anyone using free and open source software. Current formats range from HTML, PDF, EXE, DjVu, EPUB and most recently Kindle format.

As well as handling text and graphics they can use audio and video format although often an internet connection is needed for these more sophisticated functions.

They are fast becoming available on every possible topic both fiction and non fiction and are widely accessible from the internet. They are even available in public libraries. They are also being used more and more in schools, colleges and universities. Most authors are making their books available in eBook format notably Stephen King who wrote 'Riding the Bullet' solely for eBook format and sale. A notable exception, by contrast, is J K Rowling who apparently does not wish her 'Harry Potter' novels to be published in eBook format.

Generally eBooks are cheaper to produce than conventional books which need more specialised equipment to produce hard copies (as either paperback or hardback books). This means eBooks are normally cheaper to buy than conventional books.

As already mentioned eBooks can be produced relatively easily by anyone with commonly available software and many people are making their own eBooks for both personal use and for retail sale either through eBook websites (e.g. or simply from personal webpages or blogs.

The growth in the number of eBooks has been rapid over the last couple of years and it seems it is predicted to continue to rise over the next few years. This is confirmed in part by the growth of Google Books eBooks category.

In conclusion eBooks have become important means to promote and impart knowledge and enjoyment through reading using new 'electronic' technology. EBooks are now known and used frequently by many people worldwide and this new way of reading looks certain to continue to grow and constantly be developed and improved.