An eBook, or electronic book, is a type of digital book that can be digitally downloaded and read on a range of digital devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. Unlike physical books, eBooks are usually inexpensive, quick to acquire, and can be read anywhere.
The rapid growth in digital technology since the 1980s brought with it, the ability to produce, store and access digital books, giving rise to the technology of eBooks. It’s easy to understand why the eBook revolution has caught on in such a big way; eBooks are lightweight, tightly fit into the digitalisation of our lives, and, most importantly, offer cheap and quick access to our favourite books.
But for readers who aren’t technically savvy and are new to the world of eBooks, the task of acquiring, downloading and reading an eBook may seem daunting at first. To make things easier, understanding the basics of what an eBook is and how to handle one is key.
First and foremost, understand the form and file format of the eBook. Most of the time, they are DRM-free PDF files, or Multi-touch ePub and Kindle books. PDFs are the most common type, and are universally readable on most computing and mobile devices, but depending on the device, the PDF must be adapted for e-readers like Kindle.
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The device capability also must be considered before purchasing an eBook. Most will easily load on devices such as iPads, iPhones, and Android devices, but some eBooks may require additional downloading software and applications, such as a Kindle reader. Any such requirements should be clearly stated in the eBook description.
Once the device has been identified and download software has been installed, you are ready to purchase or download the eBook. To purchase an eBook requires an online account, whereas most eBooks available on the internet are free to download. If an eBook is purchased, or otherwise acquired, downloading it is similar to extracting a file from an archived file or transferring a file over a network - the protocols are virtually identical.
Once the eBook is downloaded and present on the device, it is ready for reading. Depending on the file format, most reading applications will give the user the ability to change the colour and font size, highlighting, copy and paste notes, images, charts and illustrations, glossary and dictionary lookups, and annotations.
The general guidelines for using eBooks mostly depend on the device, particularly for mobile devices that are regularly connected to the internet. Most Kindle and Apple mobile devices allow the reader to synchronise across other devices as well, so that progress is saved regardless of what device the eBook is read from. As for best practices, it helps to backup eBooks, either online or offline, as digital copies may become corrupt, or deleted accidentally. Also, to keep on top of any updates, it may help to register the devices with the manufacturer directly.