Why Ebooks are Special
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Did you hear the story about the university professor in Germany in 1457? He was looking at one of Gutenberg’s first printed books and he had a sneer on his face.
As he flipped through the pages he said, “This will never be popular. People like scrolls. Scrolls fit the hand better and are easier to roll and unroll. Plus, scrolls have a distinctive smell that people love.”
Fiction? Sure. I made up that story. But it illustrates that some people are slow to adopt new technology. Writing started on cave walls, jumped to impressions on wet clay (cuneiform), then moved to scrolls, books, and now to the electronic form we call e-books.
At every stage, someone claimed that the previous form was better. It takes time for civilization to adapt. However, based on history, we know that printed books will go the way of cave-writing, cuneiform, and scrolls. Just give it time.
You Can Read Your Way
There are many reasons why e-books are special.
- You can shop for an e-book anywhere you have an Internet connection and have it delivered instantly.
- You often get far more than just printed material—many e-books are interactive with pictures, charts, maps, and links to related material.
- You can store many hundreds of books on a single small, portable device.
- You can even customize how pages appear on devices like a Kindle so they look like the printed pages of yore.
You can be sure of three things when it comes to printed books.
- You have to kill a lot of trees to make the paper.
- You have to burn a lot of fossil fuels to ship printed books around the country.
- They will never improve. They will always be ink on paper glued between covers.
On the other hand, e-book technology will only improve. Now, e-book creation is easy with the universally accepted Kindle Mobi or ePub formats. The marketing, sales and delivery process is automated. Millions of otherwise unavailable books are now cheap and plentiful. We’ve come a long way baby, thanks to ever-improving technology.
Ebooks Expand the World for Everyone
Ebooks offer a brave new world for literacy. All the world’s greatest books (and the terrible ones too) can be digitized in a small file. They can be read by any computer, tablet, smartphone, or increasingly inexpensive dedicated ebook reader.
Universal education has never been possible in the history of humanity. Now it is. Combined with the Internet, e-books offer anyone the opportunity to explore anything in-depth. E-books are cheap to create and cheap to distribute.
Another reason e-books expand the world for everyone is because anyone can write and publish one. Journalist A.J. Liebling (1904-1963) said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” That was true until the dawn of the Internet Age and the proliferation of ebooks. It took a huge amount of money to create content, print it on expensive presses, and distribute it. Only the rich could sway public opinion.
That era is gone. The “gate-keepers” like publishers, brick and mortar bookstores, professional reviewers, and other arbitrators of acceptability are no longer in control. Power to the people!
It is possible for almost anyone to write an e-book, publish it and distribute it worldwide at no cost. I’m not recommending you try to do it all free, but technology has made it possible.
Ebooks are the Future of Book Publishing
You occasionally see articles that say, “Ebook Readership Falls.” Such articles tend to gloat over the fact that people still like printed books. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study said, “Print books remain more popular than books in digital formats.”
But what are the actual numbers behind the Pew research? In 12 months period in a recent year, 73 percent of those polled had read a book in any format. However, the study showed readership of print books dropped 6 percent. Yet ebook readership increased by 11 percent. But these numbers are constantly moving up and down.
Yes, print books are still popular and many people prefer them. However, print books have been around for 560 years. The integrated ebook distribution infrastructure we know and love today did not exist until 2007 when Amazon created the Kindle and the Whispernet delivery system. Amazon sells an estimated average of 1.1 million ebooks each day (2019). Of course, many other companies also sell ebooks, but the Amazon story of book publishing innovation is an amazing one.
Join the ebook revolution! You can write and publish an e-book. You can get worldwide distribution. Yes, you must work hard to promote your e-book to see financial success. But it’s possible with the right motivation, simple skills, and perseverance.