What’s an eBook? A Complete Guide for Beginners

In today’s highly technological world, virtually everything has been digitized and books are no exception. 

Today, eBooks have changed the way that information is created, viewed, and disseminated. These convenient downloadable files from eBook stores include everything that you would typically find in print books including table of contents, numbered pages, pictures, and more. 

But, what exactly are eBooks? How do you use it? Where you can purchase them? What advantages does it offer over traditional print books? Keep reading to discover the answers to these questions and more.

What are eBooks?

Essentially, an eBook (electronic book) is a text presented in a digital format that allows it to be read on a computer, smartphone, tablet, or any other digital device. It is a non-editable, reflowable book that is converted to a digital format. Many books that are available in printed formats can be read as eBooks, including classic literature, reference texts, and best-selling fiction novels. Furthermore, eBooks can be used to publish new works while bypassing print altogether. 

How do I read an eBook?

You can view an eBook using various digital devices. Some of the most popular devices that eBooks are viewed on include computers, tablets, and smartphones. However, in recent years, a device known as eReader (electronic reader) was developed especially for storing and viewing eBooks. Basically, an eReader is a handheld device that you can use to view eBooks. Some of the most popular eReader devices include Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Rakuten’s Kobo.

Now, you might be wondering why you should purchase an eReader when you can easily use your smartphone or tablet to view eBooks. Well, this is because eReaders offer a few perks that other digital devices don’t have. For instance, compared to most digital devices, eReaders have excellent battery life and can store a huge number of books. 

What are eBook formats?

eBooks can be saved and viewed in different formats. Currently, there are dozens of eBook formats available. However, the most commonly used eBook formats are: 

  • PDF
    The simplest and most well-known eBook format is PDF (portable document format). Developed by Adobe, PDFs are popular due to their availability and user-friendliness. Furthermore, PDF readers are generally available for most digital devices, and many eReader devices are able to open PDF files.
  • EPUB
    EPUB (electronic publication) is the most widely supported eBook format. It can be opened on various devices, including tablets, smartphones, and computers, as well as most eReaders. Furthermore, EPUB files are reflowable which means that no matter what the size of the screen you are viewing the eBook on, it will always fit your screen. The format, texts, and images will all be resized to fit the proportions of the device that you are viewing the eBook on.
  • AZW
    AZW files were exclusively developed by Amazon for their Kindle eReaders. AZW files can store complex contents, including annotations, highlights, bookmarks, and more. However, the use of AZW files are limited to Kindles and digital devices with Kindle apps. Moreover, they can only be accessed via the Amazon online bookstore. 

Purchasing eBooks: Where can you buy them? How much do they cost?

There are several retailers that you can purchase eBooks from. Some of the best places to buy eBooks online include Amazon’s eBook store, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble eBook store, Google Play Books, Kobo eBook Store, and Total BooX. Also, you can go directly to your favorite author’s website or social media page – most of the time, authors will promote their eBook on their own website or social media pages.

As for the costs, eBooks are generally cheaper than paperbacks. You don’t have to worry about shipping or manufacturing costs, and if you are downloading them directly on to your computer, the software is usually free. 

The Benefits of eBooks: Print vs. Digital

Even with the rising popularity of eBooks, many people still prefer real books. However, while traditional print books are not going away anytime soon, there are many instances wherein eBooks provide an advantage over printed books.  

  • eBooks can help you save space. Some people are lucky enough to have big libraries to store their books. However, for people who don’t have that extra space, eBooks save a huge amount of space by allowing readers to store hundreds, if not thousands, of books on a single device!

  • eBooks are convenient and portable. Printed books, particularly hardbound texts, can be very heavy which makes them difficult to carry around. However, you don’t need to worry about this issue with eBooks. eBooks can be stored on your smartphone, tablet, or eReader – all of which are lightweight devices. With a supported eBook device, you get to keep your entire library in your pocket, giving you access to your eBooks wherever you are.

     

  • eBooks allow you to change the font size and style. Unlike printed books, eBooks allow you to change the font size and style. This is particularly appealing for those with vision problems – with an eBook, you no longer have to squint or reach for your glasses. You can just as easily adjust the size of the text to make it readable for you. Note: While you can’t change the font size of a PDF eBook, you can still zoom in on your device. It may not be as convenient, but it is still something that you cannot do with a paperback.

     

  • eBooks allow you to access indie titles. Countless independent, self-published authors only publish their work in digital formats. Many of these works include short stories and novellas which are too short to publish in print format, but are perfectly suited for eBooks. With a supported eBook device, you can access countless indie titles that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to read.

     

  • eBooks save the environment. The book-printing industry harms the environment in a big way – the industry consumes 16 million tons of paper each year (that’s 32 million fallen trees!) and its carbon footprint is enormous as well. eBooks reduce the use of paper, eliminate the need for packing materials, save trees from being cut down, and reduce the pollution caused when old books are disposed of or recycled.

Conclusion

There are various reasons why many readers want to give eBooks a try. Not only is it generally cheaper and more environment-friendly, it also offers many advantages that make the reading experience more convenient and enjoyable. However, it doesn’t really matter how you choose to read your books; whether you choose traditional paperbacks or eBooks, the important thing is that you keep reading!

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