An ebook is in effect a digital book. It can take on various forms from a straightforward digital copy of a printed book to a very sophisticated interactive multimedia presentation. Ebooks can be read or downloaded from the web but are also often distributed via CD or DVD especially with large file sizes. Many ebooks are read on mobile phones or dedicated eBook readers such as the Kindle. The ebook doesn’t necessarily have to be a book as such, it can simulate a website or act as a company brochure, instructional manual or learning aid, a portfolio or company presentation. In this case often referred to as an eBrochure.
The first significant ebook was Stephen King’s ‘Riding the Bullet’ which was launched on the internet in 2001 selling at $2.50 per copy. This was a resounding success and led to the boom in this form of media.
Simpler, mainly text-based content benefit from other ebook formats including the ePub and Kindle format. Perfect for novels or simple layouts. These formats support ‘reflow’. The reader has the ability to adjust text size, margins and spacing depending on the viewing device. Of course this format has its downside, no page number references can be used, tables, pictures and graphics have to flow with the content and font choice is restricted. Pictures and graphics can look very poor at small sizes, so tread carefully. There is also great differences between what is actually seen by the viewer over different devices.
A word of caution then if you format your own book, just because it looks good on one device doesn’t mean it will on another. Remember that all the manufacturers are in competition. Amazon seems to be the market leader at the moment. I work on the assumption that the lowest common denominator will work on everything.
Free ebook readers are available for PCs and smart phones and prices for dedicated ebook reading devices are dropping. The latest Kindle Fire supports a much wider range of styles now although bear in mind backward compatibility. The earlier Kindles and Kindle Paperwhite are still in black and white. Also several devices don’t link to the internet.
The advantages of a PDF Ebook
- Accessible from various devices and paper-free.
- Has a wide variety of uses including educational aids, promotional materials, catalogues.
- Space-saving with no wear and tear.
- Interactivity can aid navigation of complex documents including linking to websites. The ability to add notes by the user can be added if required.
- Printable books and brochures can be easily saved as an ebook if produced in Word. I prefer Quark Xpress or InDesign, the industry standard software for this type of work. The file size is lowered by adding more compression to the files. Ebook resolution is not as critical as print resolution.
- The PDF has sound functionality for people with impaired vision.
- Revising a PDF is simpler and often less costly than a printed version.
- You can make any size you want. Landscape shapes are generally more suitable for reading on the web.