The way we are reading is changing.
E-books have brought affordable reading to the masses and changed the publishing landscape. You might be surprised at just how long they’ve been around, though. Before we look at the many advantages of digital content, let’s have a glimpse at an abbreviated timeline of e-books…
A Brief History of E-Books
Back in 1971, Michael Hart launched Project Gutenberg. His stated goal was to create an electronic library of 10,000 books. This venture endures to today. As of writing, there are 56,000 free e-books available on the Project Gutenberg website.
1990 saw the first program capable of displaying e-books, PC-Book.
BiblioBytes was the first company to launch a website selling e-books in 1993. E-books at this stage were all in plain text but that changed in 1994 with a switch to the more flexible HTML.
The Rocket was the very first handheld e-reader launched by NuroMedia in 1998. It was not quite the seamless experience you get today. You needed to hook up the device to your PC with a serial cable to download content.
Publishing houses were relatively quick to embrace this new technology. By 1999, Simon & Schuster started ibooks, a new imprint dedicated to digital content. They began publishing digital books in tandem with hard copies.
2000 saw Microsoft and Amazon combine forces to start selling e-books. By 2004, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had stated his intention to build the world’s finest e-reader. This, of course, culminated in the trailblazing Kindle in 2007. Kindle is still going strong today in its eighth generation.
Since their evolution spanning back decades, what do today’s e-books bring to the table?
10 Strong Benefits of E-Books
In today’s wired world, e-books are finally becoming what their creators always hoped for…
These digital chunks of data are accessible from any device anywhere in the world. They can be searched instantly for relevant information.
Given the way in which digital publishing has advanced, we’ll now explore some of the many positive aspects of e-books.
1) Speed of Publishing
As an author, nothing beats immediate release and instant exposure to your audience and fan base. In the past, the publishing process took months, even years. From submission and editing through to printing and binding, getting published was hard work.
These days the process can take less than 24 hours. Content can be rolled out seamlessly and globally.
This pace is especially valuable with events-focused content that would date before the traditional publishing process saw it between hard covers.
2) Advantageous For Authors
With a trade publishing deal, an author takes 7-10% in royalties from print copies but as much as 25% from the Kindle version.
With self-publishing, chancing a print run of paperbacks is a risky endeavor. Go the Kindle route and you could earn up to 70% in royalties with very little to lose.
3) Editorial Freedom
With e-books, authors have much more editorial latitude than they did with traditional bookbinding publishers. The overhead costs of publishing traditional books are so high that most houses aim for their authors to reach as wide an audience as possible.
E-books cost almost nothing, and it’s possible to get involved with publishing entities that do not interfere with an author’s creative vision. It’s also very easy to self-publish if you want complete autonomy.
4) Flexibility and Changes
The review process with e-book is much shorter. If you decide as an author to revise your work, the new editions can appear instantly without a hitch or any real costs. Fixing traditional typesetting issues is a pricey undertaking.
5) Feedback for Authors
It’s super-simple to get real-time feedback on work through online forums. This helps authors tweak their work even more and also allows them to interact with their fan base.
E-books are incredibly versatile when it comes to aesthetics and layouts. Millions of typefaces that are almost impossible to make or clear with publishing houses are readily available for e-books.
If you want to incorporate things like films or graphs and illustrations, this is much easier and cheaper to pull off than between hard covers. You can even experiment with changing the page illumination and incorporate new types of renderings.
E-books are built to stay the distance. Content and typefaces will always remain clean with no imperfections.
You can make unlimited bookmarks or highlight pages or pieces of text without damaging or dog-earing the book.
The e-book you buy today will not degrade over time in any way at all. It’s a permanent purchase.
8) Cost and Choice
Hardcover books are not cheap.
Textbooks, for example, can run to hundreds of dollars for new copies. This is ruinous for students on tight budgets.
E-books, by contrast, cost a fraction of the amount.
Beyond the simple bottom line, you’ll also have a far greater choice when it comes to titles. Gone are the days of hunting down rare or hard-to-find titles. Pretty much anything you want is just a few keystrokes away.
For communters or travelers, the heftiness and bulk of traditional book is a nuisance.
With e-books, you can move around with a colossal library on tap.
Not only is traveling with books simplified, storage is so much easier with e-books, too. There’s obviously no need for bookshelves or large storage areas. A whole library of e-books only takes up virtual real estate.
10) Ease of Searching Content
E-books also have a feature a paperback book can never rival…
You can search through them by typing in a word rather than physically pawing through the pages.
This makes a whole lot of sense if you’re not just browsing through a story for fun. Students and people looking to retain information or extract info from books find these types of features extremely useful. There’s no need for that card catalog at the library. No more trekking into basements to study microfiche or scans of books. Search is incredibly straightforward and powerful with e-books.
So, e-books are powerful pieces of technology equally beneficial to authors and readers.
Authors get more freedom and proportionally better earnings. Readers get an incredibly convenient experience at a pocket-friendly price alongside a product that could theoretically last forever.
While many purists refuse to embrace them, for growing legions of readers, e-books represent the future. We have focused today entirely on the positives not because there are no downsides. That, though, is something we’ll look at in a forthcoming article.
So what are you waiting for?