Introduction to E-Books

Posted by Always Write at 3:33 PM Tagged with: , ,
Apr 082010

You may have noticed me talking a lot about e-books lately. That’s because I’m excited about them, and the opportunities they present for readers and authors alike.

E-books have several advantages over paper books: they cost less to produce and distribute, they’re better for the environment, they can be downloaded instantly, thousands can be stored on a single device, they never get old or have pages fall out, you can search them and pop up word definitions, etc. People who try them generally like them. A lot. And we realized we read for the words, not the “feel” of paper or the smell of glue. But what if you don’t know where to start?

It’s easy to get started reading your first e-book. No, you don’t need a special e-book reader, you can read them on the computer or smartphone you already have. And they’re generally cheaper than printed books. Since anything published before 1923 is in the public domain in the U.S., you can even read thousands of great classics (Hamlet, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, etc.) for free. You can download them in PDF, plain text, or as a webpage (HTML), any of which are easy to read on any computer.

For selection and ease of use, you can’t beat Amazon. The best way to read them is on a Kindle, of course, but Amazon makes free reading apps that let you read Kindle e-books on PCs, Macs, Blackberries, iPhones/iPods/iPads, and more. You can browse and purchase books (including free books) from Amazon, and you can read them with any of their reading apps. It will even “sync” your location, so if you get to Chapter 3 on your PC, you can pick up your iPhone or Kindle and start reading where you left off. Pretty cool.

Ready to get started? I may be biased, but I think there are worse ways to spend a few bucks than picking up my novels in e-book format. There are many ways to do it:

  • If you’d like to read on a computer or laptop, just click the “Buy Now” buttons in the column to the right and pick up a copy in PDF format, which can be easily read on any computer. Grab just the first, or splurge and get the “Combination Package,” which gets you 3 novels for less than the cost of a movie.
  • If you buy them through my site, I will also send them to you in any format you may need, now or in the future, so you can put them on that Kindle or iPad you get for your next birthday.
  • Want to read through Amazon, on your Kindle, computer, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod, or iPad? One-click them from Amazon.
  • Do you own a Nook? Pick them up at Barnes & Noble.
  • How about another e-reader: Sony, iRex, BeBook, CyBook, etc.? Smashwords has you covered in any conceivable file format.
  • Did you just get a shiny new iPad? Want to try out the iBook Store? Annoyed that most e-books there cost $15? My e-books are still under $3 in the iBook Store (or just search for my name from your iPhone or iPad).

Once you get hooked on e-books, you may want to consider picking up an e-book reader. There are several options. My favorite is the Kindle 2 for $259 (UPDATE: the newer Kindle 3 starts at just $139), but Barnes & Noble’s Nook or the Sony e-readers make fine choices as well. There are even some $99 LCD-based e-readers cropping up, although they’re harder on the eyes and not as easy to use. On the other end of the spectrum, you can buy yourself a fancy iPhone or iPad and use those to read (if you can tear yourself away from games and Facebook).

E-books are the future. Sure, there will always be printed books, just like we still have radio and horses, even though TV and cars are quite popular. Why not give e-books a try — for free or just a few bucks — and see what all the fuss is about?

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© 2010 David Derrico