Friday, December 18, 2009

Stress Test for a Healthy Ebook

Important Note:
To read later version of this article — expanded and updated — click here.

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All ebooks are not created equal.

How healthy is your ebook? ... Is your ebook free, flexible, strong (long lasting) and brimming with useful features? ... Or is your ebook feature-challenged, a hapless prisoner of one specific device, format, or content protection system?

There is much debate about ebook pricing; there should be much more talk about ebook value. A free and healthy ebook is worth much more than a feature-reduced ebook.

Take the Stress Test for a Healthy Ebook

Here is a simple stress test: apply this test to any ebook that you are planning to buy. Please note that this "point system" is arbitrary: some features are more important than others. You can customize this test, add new questions, and assign any point values that you like.

For each of the following questions, award:

10 points for the answer: "Yes / Full"
5 points for the answer: "Partial / Limited"
0 points for the answer: "No"

Using this scheme, 100 points is the highest and best-possible score.

1. Can you read the ebook in many ways, and on many different devices?

2. Can the ebook be read aloud to you, in a computer-generated voice?

3. Can you print the ebook?

4. Can the ebook be shared with a friend or family member?

5. Can you highlight text in the ebook?

6. Can you "process" text: cut, copy, paste, annotate?

7. Can you convert the ebook to different formats?

8. Does the ebook NEVER compromise your privacy, by including your social security number or credit card number in the ebook?

9. Can you re-sell the ebook, assuming that you are willing to give up your copy of it?

10. Once you have purchased the ebook, is it impossible for the seller to take it away from you?

Speaking round-aboutly about love and freedom, a poet once sang:
"If something is truly yours, nobody can take it away from you."

—Michael Pastore