The idea of electronic books, commonly known as eBooks has been around for almost 90 years. The concept of a device being able to contain large amounts of reading material (any bookworm’s fantasy) is thought to be conceived by Bob Brown during the 1930s.
However, it wasn’t until 2006 that eReaders began gaining popularity with the public. Beginning with the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle, and the iPad, electronic libraries became accessible and portable for everyone to use.
As an avid reader, I have the habit of always carrying a book in my bag or backpack in case I get a couple of free minutes for reading. However, I’ve often found myself trying to fit Jane Austen’s Complete Works into my favorite clutch purse. Something that I have failed to accomplish. Now, with an eReader, that would be a different story. You can carry hundreds and even thousands of books in devices weighing only about 6 oz. One of the electronic downsides? You can’t use it during plane take-offs or landings.
Affordable and Quick
Since eBooks require no paper and are eco-friendly, this greatly lowers printing and distribution costs. eBooks are often 50%-60% cheaper than their paper equivalent. eBooks price regulations are often disputed, but in the end, eBooks prove to be less expensive. For example, Amazon sells “If I Stay”, by Gayle Forman at $11.55 in the Hardcover edition, $6.01 in the paperback, and only $4.99 in the Kindle version .
eBooks are also available as fast as you can download them, making this a great advantage when it’s 3:00 a.m. and libraries and bookstores are closed, or when you are trapped at home during severe weather. Getting your books delivered right at your doorstep is indeed a comfortable alternative to driving to the store, but it is sure nice to get them in the palm of you hands, especially when delivery time is being manipulated, such as Amazon’s dispute with the Bonnier Media Group.
Some books escape this fight. Books whose intellectual property rights (or copyright) have expired become public domain works. A book’s copyright expiration date depends on the country it was first published. Most countries have a Life + 50, or a Life + 70 policy. Making books from authors like Shakespeare or Jane Austen public domain, and may be reproduced at no charge. Free classical books can be found in places like Project Gutenberg and Apple’s iBooks.
One thing worth noting when reading expired-copyright books is the amount of typos that could be present. Recently published eBooks may contain typos sporadically. However, free eBooks that were digitalized by simply scanning the book and then using an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to read the text can contain a lot more errors.
An author’s reputability often depends on the publishing house that is backing them up. For instance, a literature author who is using a self-publishing tool to get his work out into the market is often viewed as a bad sign for publishing houses. Lit Reactor’s article weighs the different views on self-publishing for literature writers. As it points out, “Self-publication wasn’t a sign of the book’s quality. It was a sign of the author’s gullibility.” Gullibility in the sense that you pay a publishing house to print your own book, instead of them being interested enough to pay for your work. Also, it is on the writer’s shoulders to promote the book, since they are the ones making the investment. When a publishing house invests in your work and your book, they are the ones that work the hardest to make a book popular, because that is how they make money.
Today, self-publishing is more accessible due to eBooks. It doesn’t cost a dime to publish your book electronically, and some eBook dealers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble let you try and sell your book for free, only charging for sold books. But, does this make it a reputable way to publish?
Universities and companies have taken advantage of eBooks in order to make classes and company literature available to students, employees, and even the general public. With the ability to embed multi-media like sound, video, and web links into the text, the potential for education and entertainment from eBooks in endless.
Still undecided between paper or electronic? Here is a list that can help you decide:
- Immediate access
- One device holds many books
- Lower cost
- Fonts can be enlarged
- Multi-media access
- Save trees
- Cloud mobility
- No physical book to hold
- LCD scree glare, strained eyes
- Difficulty in choosing right device
- Internet access needed to download
- Batteries not included
- Unreliable eReaders lifespan