WHAT IS AN EBOOK?
An e-book, an electronic book, digital file containing a body of text and images suitable for distributing electronically and displaying on-screen in a manner similar to a printed book E-books can be created by converting a printer’s source files to formats optimized for easy downloading and on-screen reading, or they can be drawn from a database or a set of text files that were not created solely for print.
The industry for buying and selling e-books first emerged as a mainstream business in the late 1990s, when companies like Peanut Press began selling book content for reading on personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld devices that were the predecessors of today’s smartphones and tablet computers. However, in the aftermath of the dot-com crash of 2000–2002, e-books did not find wide acceptance by the publishing industry, and investment in e-reading devices and e-book technologies subsided. The industry’s resurgence may have begun when the Sony corporation released an e-reading device in 2006 and Amazon.com released the Kindle in 2007, after which sales of e-books in the United States grew rapidly.
An eBook is a non-editable, reflowable book that is converted to a digital format to be read on any digital device such as computer screens or mobile devices.
FATURES OF AN EBOOK
The 10 features of e-books are:
1. A great cover
What does “great” mean when it comes to designing an attractive and alluring cover? Some fundamental aspects include visually attractive colours and design, branding including logo and/or author’s name on the cover, good quality images that provide visual appeal and credibility.
The bottom line is that people will judge your e-book on its cover.
2. An attention grabbing title
What will the reader gain from reading your e-book? How can you best convey that value?
Using action-based words and phrases is a good start, followed up with substantive content.
Which would you prefer ‘How to improve your SEO’ or ‘The five secrets to ranking higher on Google’.
3. An introduction to the author
People buy from people, not companies. As the author of an e-book, readers like to know who you are, who it is they ‘talking to’.
They also want to know that the material they are reading is fresh, new and has credentials behind it.
Don’t be afraid to include a picture of yourself with a few words about why you are the right person to be talking to them about the subject at hand.
4. Information backed up with research
Writing or journalism that doesn’t seek out balanced points of view and back up assertions with facts and research is suspect and dangerous when your aim is to start a relationship with a potential customer. Like all good relationships, the reader needs to be satisfied that you are trustworthy and that they can rely on your material. Provision of statistics and data, sometimes from external sources, can assist in this process.
5. An outline of contents
Providing a table or summary of contents makes it easier for readers to choose which parts of the e-book they may wish to skim or read, and in which order they prefer to do this. There’s nothing more likely to dispel a potential customer than time-wasting or frustration, so it makes sense to minimise the possibility of this occurring.
6. Graphical and conceptual representations
There are many ways to impart information other than just words on a screen and big blocks of text can be off-putting to some readers. When you’ve established a first draft it’s useful to go back over the text and ask yourself if certain points could better be represented with a table, chart, diagram or even cartoon.
7. Embedded links
Providing links to other material on your website or blog is one way to keep readers looking at your material when they decide to exit or even take a detour from reading your e-book.
These links allow you to make more comprehensive material available without cluttering up the eBook. For instance if you were discussing SEO in your e-book you might link certain words, or jargon, to a glossary, blog article or other information piece on your website.
8. A focus on remarkable content
This perhaps should have appeared at the top of the list, given its importance. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king’ and when appealing to a specific and informed audience, it’s important to take nothing for granted. Make sure you are actually offering something of value or that readers may find difficult, if not impossible, to access anywhere else.
9. Social sharing options
If the person reading your e-book thinks the information it offers is useful and interesting, chances are they think other people will too. The reader may want to share some of this information or even share ideas about the way you have presented material in your e-book with colleagues and friends. If your e-book is 20 pages then give them 20 opportunities to do this, by including share buttons linked to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or any other relevant social media platforms.
10. A call to action
OK, so this is where we arrive at the bottom line. Hopefully by this stage you’ve dazzled, tantalised, entertained and informed your reader. You’ve given them something of concrete value to take away with them to improve their business. Now it’s about asking for something in return. Why beat about the bush? If you want them to move through the sales ‘funnel’ then drive them to the next stage. Include a call to action option on the last page of the e-book that acts like a landing page, one that lets the reader know what’s in store.
Top eBook formats
Let’s take a detailed look at the top five eBook formats: TXT, EPUB, MOBI, AZW, and PDF.
TXT (.txt) format
A plain text file is the simplest file format that uses the file extension .txt. These files are used strictly for text, images and graphs are not supported. Because of their simplicity, these files are usually for storing information with no formatting beyond basic fonts and font styles. They don’t have fixed layouts, digital rights management ((DRM) protection, or interactivity. TXT files are great for text-heavy eBooks, like research reports, for example.
What is digital rights management?
DRM, also known as Digital Rights Management, is a term that is used to describe the processes by which the author or publisher of a work exerts his rights to control what the purchaser of his work is entitled to do.
EPUB (.epub) format
An EPUB, or electronic publication, is the most widely supported eBook format and can be read on a variety of devices, including computers, smartphones, tablets, and most eReaders (except Kindles). All EPUB file formats are DRM protected and have strong copy protection. EPUB files are reflowable, but also support fixed layouts. Let’s check out the difference:
Reflowable EPUB files are designed in a way that allows the text and images reflow to fit all screen sizes. They have a flat, linear design, which means images float along with the text (no overlap or text wrap), so this format is best used for text-heavy eBooks. Reflowable EPUBs are the most common eBook format and have the widest distribution because it’s the format that is most familiar to users.
One downfall of fixed layout EPUBs, though, is that they are limited in distribution compared to reflowable EPUBs. They aren’t sold in the Kindle store, so they’re usually found in the ibookstore, which has a smaller audience than Kindle.
MOBI (.mobi) format
A MOBI file, otherwise known as a Mobipocket eBook file, was used as the first file format by Amazon when it launched Kindle. In 2011, support for the MOBI file was discontinued and has since been replaced by the AZW file format. Although MOBI files are no longer supported, Amazon’s kindle devices use MOBI file structure, but they now have a different DRM protection and use the AZW file extension. Because of this, MOBI files are still widely popular for devices with low bandwidth, except Nooks and Sony readers. Outside of Kindle, though, you won’t find them too often.
AZW (.azw) and AZW3 (.azw3) formats
AZW files, also known as Kindle files, were developed by Amazon for its Kindle eReaders, replacing MOBI files. AZW files use the MOBI format, but contains DRM protection that only allows them to be read on Kindles or devices with Kindle apps. Additively, they are only accessible from the Amazon online bookstore. These files can store complex content like bookmarks, annotations, and highlights.
Older Kindle eReaders use the AZW format, but after the release of the Kindle Fire, Amazon created AZW3 files, also known as the Kindle Format 8 (KF8). AZW3 is the next-generation version of the Kindle eBook file, adding support for HTML and CSS to the existing Kindle format, making it more advanced to support additional styles, fonts, and layouts.
A PDF, also known as a portable document format, isn’t technically a true eBook because it’s not reflowable, but it’s the format most people are familiar with. Created by Adobe, PDFs are known for their ease of use and ability to maintain high-end designs and formats. Because they hold their format and aren’t reflowable, they can be difficult to read on a small screen and have limited interactivity.
PDFs are similar to the fixed layout EPUB file format, but, unlike the EPUB, they only have basic copy protection, which means they can be easily downloaded and shared for free. Despite this, they are still one of the most commonly used eBook formats, especially by marketers.
PDFs can’t be sold in the iBookstore or Kindle store, but they can be read on just about any device.
WHAT IS AN AUDIO BOOK
An audiobook (or a talking book) is a recording of a book or other work being read out loud. A reading of the complete text is described as “unabridged”, while readings of shorter versions are abridgements
10 Best Places To Download Free Ebooks And Audio Books
Whether you like your printed words in a hard scientific staccato rhythm or you prefer them with more subtle poetic flourishes there are many websites offering free ebooks. Topics cover every subject known to humankind from astrology to artificial intelligence, databases to delinquent deviancy and romantic comedies to raising the dead. Whatever your penchant you will find something to engage and inspire, dream and escape or edify and learn – and it’s all free.
The Open Library has more than 1 million free e-books available. This library catalogue is an open online project of Internet Archive. Users can actually contribute books and you can search by the title, author and subject.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library. It specialises in out of print books in different languages and formats. It’s a good source for historical and academic books.
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to create and share e-books online and was one of the first producers of free ebooks. It houses a collection of more than 45,000 free e-books and no registration or fee is required. Books are available in ePub, Kindle, HTML and simple text formats.
In the free section of the Google’s eBookstore, you can find bestsellers, classics and more. The books are available in different formats, and there are also ratings and reviews from other users to give you some handy pointers.
More than 29,000 free e-books are available. You can browse by most popular titles, recent reviews, authors, titles, genres, languages and more. The books are compatible with Kindles, Nooks, iPads and most e-readers.
BookBoon specialises in educational textbooks and business books. It offers more than 1,000 e-books, is easy to navigate and best of all and you don’t need to register to download the books.
BullGuard protects your computer from hackers and malware
Free eBooks is a good source for all genres from romance to mystery and drama. In short it offers a wide variety of books in various categories and each book is accompanied by reviews and reader ratings.
LibriVox is an audiobook website. Its offers a wide range of audiobooks including classics and out-of-print books.
Hundred zeroes is a collection of Kindle bestsellers that are now free. The books cover a large range of categories. You will need to use the free Kindle reader app to download and read these ebooks.
FreeBookSpot lists thousands of free ebooks across 90 categories. The website links free ebooks from other sites and you can download scientific, engineering, programming, fiction and many other subjects and topics from this site.
GetFreeEBooks is a site that connects both author and readers in the world of free ebooks. Aspiring authors can submit their ebooks for free on this site, which can be then downloaded by the vast community of readers for free. Currently the site has more than 100 categories of free ebooks to read from.
As the title implies this site lists free online computer science, engineering and programming books, textbooks and lecture notes, all of which are legally and freely available. You’ll find material on artificial intelligence and hackers and computer philosophy, and lots of other intriguing areas.
Scribd is the world’s largest digital library, where readers can discover books and written works of all kinds while publishers and authors can find an audience for their work. It is subscription based but you can get a week’s free trial.
Ebook-space covers topics such as Computer IT, Programming Language, Software Development, Tutorial, Database Design in PDF-CHM file format – strictly for the computer bods among us.
FreeComputerBooks provides access to a huge collection of free online computer, programming, mathematics, engineering, and technical books, lecture notes and tutorials. It is categorized according to topics, with 13 main categories, and over 200 sub-categories.
Bookyards acts as an aggregator for free ebooks and related materials. It offers direct access to over 18,000 books, but also provides over 40,000 links to other sites, news and blog links, videos and other ebook and online libraries. In short, it provides access to approximately 800,000 free ebooks.
Wikibooks is a Wikimedia project to enable the collaborative writing of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit. You can do this yourself if you feel that you have something to contribute simply by clicking on the edit link that appears near the top of each Wikibooks page.
E-Books Directory is a growing list of freely downloadable ebooks, documents and lecture notes from across the internet. You can submit and promote your own ebooks, add comments on already posted books or browse through the directory. Currently over 8,500 free ebooks are available.
The Online Books Page is designed to facilitate access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all. Currently the site lists over more than 1 million ebooks. It also has a section on banned books, such as The Federal Mafia, a book by Irwin Schiff that claimed Americans could legally opt out of paying income taxes, which was banned in 2003.
Given the enormous global popularity of the 16th century astronomer and astrologer Nostradamus it would be remiss of us to not include a mention of this faintly quirky website devoted to his work – along with free ebooks to download. It may lack professional literary flourishes but it makes up for that with some curious off-beam topics.
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