Digital Book Readers File Formats Information You Won’t Find in eBook Reader Reviews

I was recently writing an article about the new Nook and Sony Daily digital book readers ability to handle the ePub standard, a file format that is fast becoming the preferred file format of the eBook publishers. It struck me that it may be helpful if I explained the differences between proprietary formats and the ePub standard, something you will not find in eBook reader reviews, but something you should remember when researching the many digital book readers on the market, prior to your final purchase decision.

It was, in the early days of digital book readers, somewhat accepted by the buying public that both Sony and Amazon released their content coded in their own file format. What this effectively did was tied the eBook to one device, but it did not take long before customers caught on, something that hit the likes of Sony hard.

But fast forward to today, the industry had been looking for a standard file format, firstly to remove uncertainty in the customers mind and secondly to do as the title suggests, standardize e-publishing.

It does look more and more like they have settled on the emerging Epub format. Why, you may ask, with so many other options about, have some of the biggest names in the industry thrown their weight behind this new format when there was, some would point out, a perfectly good one in the form of Mobipockets universally available file format. That’s really a question only the likes of Google, Sony and now Barnes and Noble can answer.

Looking on from the sidelines, it seems like the three of them have ganged up to deliver a good slapping for Amazon, as their latest offerings – the Kindle US and Kindle International digital book readers – don’t have natural support for the ePub standard.

On the other hand the latest Sony Edition Range of digital book readers, which incidentally are receiving some rave eBook reader reviews, and the brand new Barnes and Noble Nook reading device all support the ePub format. Titles at both the Sony-Store and the Barnes and Noble online bookstore will publish in this format, something that both companies are happy to sing the praises of.

Now, throw into the mix the quite considerable influence Google have on everything online and look at their recent backing of the ePub format. They intend to publish the whole of their massive library of over one million books in the ePub format, many of these titles are free to down load.

These developments have opened up the market totally. No longer do users of digital book readers have to purchase content from one source, this move can only lead to greater competition and ultimately lower eBook prices. And the encouraging thing is three massive companies have totally embraced, even instigated, it.

This leaves the Kindle digital book readers in a very difficult position, news travels at the same speed as prices change in this industry. Customers of the Kindle will feel short changed when this news hits the eBook reader review sites, and they every right they have to feel that way too don’t you think.

Will Print Books Be Considered Antiques in the Future?

Cassettes. VHS. 8-track. These technologies all had a good run but are now things of the past. Will books in print meet a similar fate? In the last few years, the eBook market has grown exponentially, especially since the release of eReader devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s eReader. Despite all the hype surrounding eBooks, the print book remains. It is a technology that has survived millennia. Change, however, is slowly coming to the publishing industry and even to the core definition of what is a book. As more companies enter the eReader market and as the reading public become more accepting of eBooks, this change will likely accelerate until reading on a digital device becomes the de facto standard.

Changing of the eBook from PDF to interactive text

The majority of eBooks published today still come from traditional publishing houses, and are simply a print book converted into digital format and made available online. While the Kindle and most other eReaders offer various features that the print book does not, such as a built-in dictionary and note-taking capabilities, there is not a significant difference in the overall reading experience. To truly harness the potential of the digital medium, eReader technology will have to advance and publishers will have to produce content that capitalizes on the interactive nature of the web. Various sectors of the publishing industry, textbook publishers for example, have already started to adapt to this changing landscape and currently offer customizable and hyperlinked text. At this point in time, however, some books still just work better in print. Cookbooks and childrens’ picture books both rely heavily on color and layout and don’t yet transfer well to digital devices, although this will likely change in the future. However, for the next few years, print books will remain the main sellers, with eBooks more of a side revenue for publishers. This will change when eBooks manage to embrace their potential for interactivity and eReaders develop beyond providing a simple imitation of reading print.

Convergence of Devices

Both Amazon and Sony entered the eReader market early on in the game. The devices they developed both use E Ink Technology, which took away many readers’ objections to converting to reading on a screen. E Ink makes reading from a screen similar to reading from a page. Although these two devices were both released less than five years ago, there have already been many changes in eReader technology and many other companies have joined the competition and created eReaders of their own. Apple releases its iPad in mid-2010, which is not only an eReader but a tablet computer with a hard drive and large memory. Barnes & Noble came out with the Nook in late 2009. Their device combines both E Ink and LCD screens in an attempt to capture the benefits of both screen types. Spring Design’s Alex, which has not yet reached the market, has a similar design. One screen will be optimal for browsing and the other for reading longer text- based documents. There is increasingly less distinction between various devices, as the line becomes blurred between a PC or an MP3 player or an eReader or a mobile phone. In the future, one device may encompass all a user’s needs, but for the moment eReaders seem to be evolving in stages, adding new features with each new device released.

Free and Less Expensive Books

The eBook market, although it is growing at an amazing rate, still makes up a small percentage of overall book sales. This will most likely change as the cost of eReaders drop and more people find that reading digital books can be an enjoyable experience. The fact that eBooks cost almost half as much as a hardcover is also a significant motivator to push readers to switch to digital. Many eBooks are not only low-priced but free. Sites such as Project Gutenberg and Google Books offer thousands of free public domain titles for download. Recently, Macmillan, a large trade publishers, fought with Amazon over the right to price books themselves instead of accepting that books cost $9.99 or less. Amazon eventually caved, but the reading public is coming to expect eBooks to be priced far below the cost of a print book. Apple is shaking up the price structure by agreeing to let publishers have more autonomy in setting the price of their books available through the Apple store. Instead of setting a flat price, the cost will be determined relative to the hardback edition. This price war for eBooks will be interesting to watch play out, but the future seems guaranteed to offer cheaper books and more affordable eReaders.

Publishers/Authors

The book market has changed very quickly in a very short time for both publishers and authors. It is easier than ever before to publish a work, as in the digital space there are no printing or storage costs to cover. With this ease of publication, however, there is already a glut of titles on the market. This makes it extremely hard for an author to break through the noise. Tradition publishing houses still provide a sense of authority to authors and a sense of security to readers because they function as gate keepers, ensuring, in most cases, that only the most worthy content reaches the printed page. In the digital world, publishers are trying to catch up and stay relevant by releasing eBooks and pursuing such innovative projects as publishing a novel in installments on mobile phones. While Google, Apple, and Amazon, third-party distributors of content, have developed eReaders, no publishing company has yet to develop a device of their own. This could prove troublesome to publishers in the future, as these companies may at some point decide to go into the publishing business themselves.

Digital Publishing As an Alternative For Authors and Businesses

Digital publishing or electronic publishing is a way to distribute written and artistic works quickly and globally without investing a lot of time and resources into their publication. There are advantages in publishing digitally because it is environmentally superior to using paper and ink production that uses up natural resources and water.

When works are produced electronically they can be easily searched and edited and changes are not costly to make at any point during production. Works can be uploaded to the Internet or sent out on CDs and DVDs. This makes this method of publishing ideal for the scientific community because they can publish current research without the timely delays normally occurring with printed publications.

Many works are found on the Internet and sold as e-books. New technology has developed e-book readers that are portable and eliminate the need for a computer set up. Online anyone can publish whatever they want to simply by creating a website or uploading their work to another website for viewing.

Making money with digital publishing may be slightly more difficult than with traditional publishing. There could be a higher profit potential however because there are virtually no natural resources like paper involved. Once created, the digital product only needs to be marketed and delivered electronically. There are no production costs, binding, packaging or mailing costs involved unless a person is selling their product on CDs or DVDs.

Digital publishing offers anyone the opportunity to create intellectual works and sell them without going through traditional publishing channels. It also offers writers the opportunity to freelance and ghost write for others. Electronic publishing can greatly broaden the reach for digital books and manuals. These works can be sold worldwide at the touch of an electronic button. Delivery is instantaneous and payments likewise are faster to the author.

Books that are published and recorded digitally are never out of print and can be accessed through digital libraries and outlets such as Amazon and other online booksellers. There are many digital publishers who would purchase electronic submissions. Digital journals, e-magazines, e-books, online newspapers and magazines and podcasts are all types of digital publishing.

For authors who want speedy results and faster payments using digital publishing for their works is an alternative to going through the very time consuming process of selling their works through traditional outlets such as print magazines and book publishers. They can even sell their works directly by placing ads up on auction websites such as eBay.

Delivering the product following receipt of payment is just a mouse click and delivery is instant to the purchaser.

One problem that may occur with digital publishing is the ease with which written works can be plagiarized and copied. There is very little to stop this activity even with protective devices such as CopyScape services that will show if a piece has been published on the Internet previously.

Digital publishing has brought speed and distribution reach to the publishing industry unlike any other method. It is usable and accessible to anyone with a computer and can bring great written works to any remote area of the world.