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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reading books on an iPhone - What is a digital book?

We live in a digital world. Or do we? This week I have been amazed at how many people don't understand just exactly what a digital book is. So, I thought I'd spend a little time to discuss the topic.

Back in the good old days (yesterday), the only way to get a book was by going to the bookstore and buying a physical copy. You treasured this copy and if the book was a good one it eventually became all dog-eared and well read. Then computers happened and some people decided it would be a good idea to start scanning some of the books so that you could take a look on your computer at actually what was inside them. It was sort of like going to the bookstore, except you could do it from your own home. Amazing.

Talking of which, amazing became Amazon and a new era was born. Amazon decided people didn't need to be going to actual bookstores anymore. The digital revolution was beginning. You see, in parallel to Amazon opening its doors, other people were starting to publish digitally scanned copies of books online for people to read on their computers. It wasn't a big market, but it was a market nonetheless.

And then it happened. Amazon released the Kindle - the world of book reading was about to change forever! The next year or so saw a mad rush for publishers and authors to convert all their books to a format that could be read on the Kindle. Indie authors sprung up all over the Internet. Suddenly book publishing wasn't just for the big companies. If you could get enough of a following from your fans, you too could sell a bestselling book.

But wait, the story isn't over here. Most people think that's it but actually there's a very important part of the understanding missing. You see, having a book available for the Kindle doesn't mean you actually need a Kindle to read the book! And this is why I am writing this blog post, to help others understand exactly what options are available to read a digital book.

Let's stop and write a little checklist. Do you have any of the following devices or gadgets?
  • A computer (PC, Mac or Linux)
  • A laptop or netbook (just in case you believe the two things are different)
  • A Kindle book reader
  • A Nook book reader
  • A Sony book reader
  • An iPhone, iPod or iPad
  • An Android phone or tablet
  • A Blackberry phone
  • A Windows 7 phone
  • Any other smartphone (Palm OS, Symbian OS, etc)
Did I miss anything? Well, if you have ANY of the devices I listed above you can read digital books! That's right, any of the devices listed above. In fact, Amazon even says on its website that you can read its Kindle format books for free (once you have bought the book) on any of the following devices -  HERE.

Don't want to buy the book and read it on the Kindle app? Not a problem either. Apple has its proprietary digital reader iBooks if Apple devices are your thing. Then there's more open digital book readers like Stanza, which enable you to read other format digital books on all Apple devices. Barnes and Noble has an app for its Nook reader available for all major types of phone as well. Then lastly there are ebook readers you can download to your PC and happily read books from the comfort of your desk or in your armchair. A few examples are Microsoft Reader, MobiPocket, and eReader Pro. And these apps are only the tip of the iceberg. I am sure there are plenty more out there!

So, there we have it! Today's book reading world is a world in metamorphosis. The change from physical books to digital books is well underway. And you can embrace that change, benefit form having hundreds of books stored digitally to pick up and read at any time, wherever you are (without any weight overload), right now!

Finally, from a personal point of view, digital books also put more of the money from the sale where it belongs - in the pockets of the author. This is why authors are able to offer digital books at a more affordable price than the traditional counterpart. Digital books are more environmentally friendly too. No more trees to cut down to print them. They also take up a lot less physical space!

Never tried a digital book yet? This coming week is "Read an Ebook Week". This makes it an ideal time to start. Why not head over to SmashWords (a great place to buy digital books, especially if you have other readers apart from the Kindle) and take a look at my book 'Xannu - The Prophecy'? It's a thrilling 400 page epic fantasy read that will draw you in from page one. Take a chance. What have you got to lose at only $0.99? And if you prefer it on the Kindle, click my book cover link earlier on in the post.

Well, that's it. I hope you now have a better understanding about just what an ebook is and how you can read one on nearly any device...

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