Monday, January 28, 2008

30 Benefits of Ebooks

Read an Ebook Week is a yearly event, and this year (2008) it runs from March 2 to March 8. To encourage the celebration of this little-known happening, here is our list of 30 Benefits of Ebooks. We love pbooks (paper books), and hope that they are never replaced by their electronic grandchildren. Yet ebooks are a worthy companion to their paper elders. Here's how and why.

30 Benefits of Ebooks

Copyright © 2008 by Michael Pastore

1. Ebooks promote reading. People are spending more time in front of screens and less time in front of printed books.

2. Ebooks are good for the environment. Ebooks save trees. Ebooks eliminate the need for filling up landfills with old books. Ebooks save transportation costs and the pollution associated with shipping books across the country and the world.

3. Ebooks preserve books. (The library of Alexandria was burned and the collection ruined. Richard Burton's wife, after his death and against his wishes, destroyed a book he had been working on for ten years. The original manuscript of Carlyle's The French Revolution was lost when a friend's servant tossed it into the fire.) Ebooks are ageless: they do not burn, mildew, crumble, rot, or fall apart. Ebooks ensure that literature will endure.

4. Ebooks, faster to produce than paper books, allow readers to read books about current issues and events.

5. Ebooks are easily updateable, for correcting errors and adding information.

6. Ebooks are searchable. Quickly you can find anything inside the book. Ebooks are globally searchable: you can find information in many ebooks.

7. Ebooks are portable. You can carry an entire library on one DVD.

8. Ebooks (in the form of digital audio books) free you to do other activities while you are listening.

9. Ebooks can be printable: and thereby give a reader most or all of the advantages of a paper-based book.

10. Ebooks defy time: they can be delivered almost instantly. Ebooks are transported to you faster than overnight shipping: in minutes or in seconds.

11. Ebooks defy space: ebooks online can be read simultaneously by thousands of people at once.

12. Ebooks are cheaper to produce. Thus, small presses can attempt to compete with media giants.

13. Ebooks are cheaper to buy.

14. Ebooks are free. The magnificent work of Project Gutenberg, and other online public libraries, allow readers to read the classics at no cost.

15. Ebooks can be annotated without harming the original work.

16. Ebooks make reading accessible to persons with disabilities. Text can be re-sized for the visually impaired. Screens can be lit for reading in the dark.

17. Ebooks can be hyper-linked, for easier access to additional information.

18. Ebooks -- with additional software and hardware -- can read aloud to you.

19. Ebooks let you tweak the style. Many ebooks allow readers to change the font style, font size, page size, margin size, colors, and more.

20. Ebooks may allow the option for the addition of multimedia: still images, moving images, and sound.

21. Ebooks, with their capacity for storage, encourage the publishing of books with many pages, books that might be too expensive to produce (and purchase) in paperback.

22. Ebooks -- without outrageous DRM schemes -- are made for sharing. Ebooks can be quickly duplicated, and then distributed to strangers or given to your friends. Worry no more about your loaned books that will never be returned.

23. Ebooks empower individuals to write and to publish, and in this way help to challenge "the crushing power of big publishing", that excludes so many authors from the New York City publishing circus. Publishing can move from the impersonal and profitable, to the personal and pleasurable.

24. Ebooks -- thanks to the simplicity and speed of publication and feedback -- allow authors to experiment in many themes and styles.

25. Ebooks posted online encourage comments, corrections, and feedback -- which eliminates mistakes and improves accuracy -- especially important when dealing with scientific and technological issues.

26. Ebooks allow publishers to publish (and readers to read) works by a larger number of authors, and works on a wider variety of topics. Critics of traditional book publishing (such as Jason Epstein and Andre Schriffin) state that economic pressures have reduced and limited the number of authors and topics that traditional publishers will now produce.

27. Ebooks defeat attempts at censorship. All these works were banned: Analects by Confucius. Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Ars Amorata by Ovid. Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio by John Milton. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne. Wonder Stories by H.C. Andersen. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Ulysses by James Joyce. ... Many of these books were confiscated, burned, or denied availability in libraries, bookstores and schools. Ebooks guarantee that readers maintain their right to read.

28. Ebooks help paperbook publishers to sell paperbooks. Cory Doctorow has explained that the giving away of ebooks, for free, has helped to sell the paperback editions of his stories and novels.

29. Ebooks are evolving. As technology develops, ebooks may contain new features. For example, a book of recipes may contain a recipe calculator to figure how much maple syrup is needed to bake 200 cookies. An ebook that prepares you for the GRE could include an interactive test. An ebook about politics might allow you to click a link and register to vote, or send an email to a Congressman that tells him he is not a good environmental steward.

30. Ebooks are good for paperbook publishing. By setting an example for diversity and freedom of expression, ebooks may motivate the stagnant book publishing industry towards the renewal of small presses, the end of the blockbuster-bestseller publishing mentality, and a healthier balance between the needs of commerce and culture.

For more information about eBooks:

References To This Post

== END of 30 Benefits of Ebooks, Copyright © 2008 by Michael Pastore ==