In a world where more and more people are carting around at least one smart device with a high quality screen, the digitisation of just about every entertainment medium is becoming commonplace. It then only stands to reason that books would be among the more traditional formats that would make the cross from the physical world to the realm of ones and zeroes.
eBooks have been increasing exponentially in popularity for some time now. The first really big push that the market got was with the humble eReader and now, more recently, tablets have started presenting themselves as a more functional alternative.
The Appeal of eBooks
There are three real major appeals of eBooks that we’re going to cover:
Carrying around more than one book can be heavy. eReaders and tablets can easily store thousands to tens-of-thousands of eBooks without adding any extra weight. It’s essentially like carrying around your entire personal library with you, minus the back-aches and moving-vans. This makes them ideal for holidays, as well as travelling to and from work or class. No need to cart around a novel and 2 text books when you can just download them in eBook format straight to your portable device.
Tablets have the added bonus of magazine subscriptions. Most big magazines these days offering online subscriptions. Seeing as tablets have internet connections and great screens to read from a lot of people are turning to them as a paper-magazine alternative. You don’t necessarily need an internet connection when you’re reading the subscription in question, either. The majority of online subscription providers will allow you to download the magazine when in an internet supported area, such as your home’s WiFi network, and then read them later. Some can even be set up to download automatically, so your weekly or monthly subscription is delivered instantly to your device as soon as its published.
Shopping and Availability
eBooks are generally easy to shop for and obtain. Buying a real book requires the reader to physically travel to a store, find the book among the other titles and then purchase said book at a counter where it’s likely they’ll have to wait in line for the privilege. eBooks not only take out the hassle of carting yourself to and from a specific location, but you can also find the specific title you want by simply searching for the title or author, rather than searching around the shelves of a store.
There’s also the possibility that a brick-and-mortar store may not have the title you want in stock, meaning that you’ll have to either travel elsewhere or wait for delivery. With eBooks you have the entire range of a store open to you at all times, all downloadable at the click of a button or tap of a screen.
A factor that also impacts on the next topic of Price is that there are many books published as eBooks versions that are not available in printed form. This is because getting a book published can be an arduous and expensive process, driving the price of the book upwards. Because of eBooks, independent authors can now publish their work without publishing houses ramping up the price and without the hindrance on creative freedom that publishers often impose. This also means that books that would have never otherwise been published can now be distributed with ease.
Of course, there are some drawbacks. Occasionally there are popular titles that are either not available or difficult to obtain in eBook format. Extremely popular books are often not made in to eBooks, or take a long time to make the transition. This is usually due to a the fear of piracy held by publishing houses. In this instance the fear is well earned, as it’s unlikely that a decent ripped version of a full Harry Potter novel will appear online in a format that readers will find pleasing. Once high demand for such a title begins to die, however, the transition is usually made. Going back to Harry Potter as an example, that globally popular series was only just released in official eBook format in March of 2012 and are currently still restricted to download from Pottermore.com.
There is also the issue of region. Every country has its own laws to do with the publication and distribution of literature. The website you’re downloading from may not have secured permission to do business in your region at all, let alone with a specific title, author or publishing house. As a result your download will often be blocked and you will have to search elsewhere for satisfaction.
eBooks are often cheaper than their physical counterparts, depending on where you shop and what title you’re after. Some services, like Apple’s iBooks or Amazon, still tend to charge around the $15 mark for a new big title. Other online services generally around the $10 mark, depending on the popularity of the book. These lower prices are possible because there is no need for a company to make back money on shipping, renting a physical location or hiring staff to operate said location.
Less common books are likely to be cheaper, coming in between $2 and $6 with surprising regularity. It’s also wise to check two or three different online vendors for each title you’re after. It’s much easier than travelling between stores with physical locations and you could end up saving a bundle.
When it comes to pricing, classic-literature eBooks are unsurpassed in value. Titles that have long outlived their patents are often available for free. Renowned authors like Shakespeare, Dickens, Dumas, De Beauvoir, Jane Austen and a bevvy more are all there for your casual browsing leisure. There will still be paid versions available, so if you’re after an old title we definitely recommend checking for free versions from the larger eBook vendors first. Even if you’re after a classic and can’t find one for free, it’s still unlikely that you’ll pay more than a few dollars for it.
How Do I Get Started?
Currently among the larger eBook vendors are Amazon, Barns and Noble, iBooks (via iTunes), eHarlequin and the more recently opened Google Play eBook service.
Just use your tablet to visit any of these locations and start browsing. Remember to check more than one service and compare pricing. We’re not kidding when we say it can save you a pretty penny.
If you’re unable to find a title on any of these sites don’t give up, there are plenty of other services on the web. We suggest a standard web-search including the phrases “eBook”, “eBook purchase” or “buy eBook” with the title and author of your desired book.
Most of the larger sites and vendors will also have their own app. We suggest searching for it on your device’s app store. These apps are usually a quick and easy way to shop for eBooks on your device.
All in All
eBooks are a fantastic way of expanding your library without taking up any shelf space. They can allow you to literally cart around tens of thousands of books if you choose and are generally cheaper and easier to buy.
The drawbacks are that sometimes newer novels take time to be released in eBook format, or that some titles may not be available for download in your region due to publishing laws. You also need charge in whatever device you’re using to be able to read, but if you pay attention to your battery power then you should be fine.
We hope this information has been helpful for any of you that are considering getting in on the eBook revolution and we wish you luck in taking your first step in to the world of digital literature.