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Brave New Word: The Ebook–What Is It and How Does It Fit Into Our Lives?

how to be happyMichael S. Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, is given credit for inventing the first ebook in 1971 when he typed the United States Declaration of Independence into a computer.

Hart, an author, had been given unlimited computer time by the operators of the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois and wanted to do something worthy of his time. While computers were being used mainly for data processing then, Hart decided to use it for information distribution.

It wasn’t until 1992 when Sony created the Discman that there was a reader for the ebook. Today the ebook has grown in such popularity that not only have many new devices sprung up for reading it, but it is an alternative format for print books, with its own category on Amazon.

Ebooks have many benefits for authors and readers

  • Ebooks enable authors to get their books disseminated widely and more quickly. Some authors test the market with an ebook version of the first few chapters of their book and finish their work according to reader responses.
  • Ebooks incur no production costs and are much more affordable to purchase. With no startup or setup costs involved, an ebook is almost all profit for the author or publisher. Then with an average cost range of 99 cents to $9.99, the ebook is much more appealing to cost-conscious readers.
  • Ebooks are so much more accessible and portable. One frequent traveler and avid reader shared how he was slow to embrace the Kindle when it first appeared on the market, until he discovered the joy of being able to carry up to 1500 books in a device he could slip into his briefcase.
  • As eReaders have become more and more sophisticated, one of the biggest benefits of an ebook is its hyperlink capability. Now when an author mentions a source or website in the text, you can visit the source with one click or watch a movie clip. You can take notes, save your spot, look up terms, and interact with a text in a way not possible with print books.

Ebooks mean no amassing and storing inventory

  • Ebooks and magazine articles can now be available in digital libraries, enabling educators, researchers and students to access information instantly and conveniently without geography or limited copies being a barrier. At a meeting for online teachers recently, one of the university librarians shared the ease with which our students can now access books and articles from the library from within our online courses. We were also learned that the library will create digital guides specific to our courses if we will identify the materials we want our students to access.
  • The popularity of the ebook has lead to it being accessible even if you don’t own an eReader. While eReaders must still be purchased, Amazon made a free Kindle app for reading ebooks from your computer, smartphone, and other devices.

Ebooks have called many things into question

  • How long is an ebook? There is no definitive answer. The number of words on a print page no longer applies since the page size of an ebook depends on the size of the device on which it’s being read. Then there are varying font styles and sizes which affect the number of words on a page.
  • The pricing of ebooks has caused one of the biggest disruptions in the world of publishing. The reading public who was quite willing to pay $19.99 for a 6″ x 9″ paperback, refuse to pay the same price for the digital version. This issue gained attention in the news when a lawsuit was filed against Apple and five major publishers charged with illegally fixing the prices of ebooks in an effort to fight back against Amazon.
  • While ebooks were at first the digital version of a print book, many authors are writing ebooks as the first and sometimes only version of a book.
  • Bestseller status no longer applies just to authors of print books. Bestseller is now based on number of sales whether they were print or digital books.

Regardless of the success of ebooks, many book lovers are not ready or willing to give up the touch and smell of “real” books and the tingly pleasure of browsing library or bookstore shelves.

The future of ebooks is bright

In 2000 Stephen King gazed into the future, and he saw it was digital. He decided to sell a new serial novel directly to his readers in digital form from his website instead of through his publisher. His plan was to sell his novella, ”The Plant,” for $1 per chapter. While his publisher judged the experiment unsuccessful by comparing the sales to King’s print bestsellers, independent authors felt that King had given digital publishing the push it needed. In the video below you’ll discover that Stephen may be the king of horror, but he’s not afraid of the future of books.


When the first Kindle device was released in 2007, the ebook momentum had found its rightful delivery system. By the fall of 2011, a hard-working unknown author of paranormal romance, Amanda Hocking, joined 11 well-known authors in the elite group of Kindle millionaires. She talks about the immediacy of digital books in the following video and her decision to embrace both legacy and digital publishing.

While we have yet to settle on how we will spell ebooks (ebooks? Ebooks? e-books? eBooks?) we can’t deny that they have changed writing, publishing, reading, and even libraries forever. If you think the first bookless digital library, the BiblioTech in San Antonio, TX, looks very much like an Apple store, you’re right. Its designer, Walter Isaacson, was inspired by the biography of Steve Jobs.

The ebook is indeed the Brave New Word.

If you’ve been yearning to write your own print or ebook, get encouragement and guidance from my 4-week eCourse, Rockin’ My Book, delivered digitally.


This article first appeared on LinkedIn at http://linkd.in/1qjjFHs


What I Learned About the Kindle Select Program

It’s my pleasure to welcome guest contributor, Tea Silvestre, aka the Word Chef (http://thewordchef.com), as she shares her recent experience with Amazon’s KDP Select program.

Now that my book is published, I’m finding more and more authors expressing opposing sides of the Yay/Nay debate on joining the Kindle Select Program.

My thought is this: if Amazon is THE 100 lb publishing gorilla, why wouldn’t you try it out?

Funny how when you know you’re going to be publishing a book, you start to see relevant thoughts and opinions everywhere.

That’s what happened to me and how I found my way to the Kindle Direct Publishing page and its Select Program

My experience with Kindle Publishing (and their Select program) has been pretty cool.

I reached #57 on Amazon’s list of nonfiction free e-books on my first day.

Not sure that the free day has increased subsequent sales, but that’s okay with me. I really just wanted to get my book into the hands of new people. To get exposure to new prospects.

KDP would work best for folks who have a series of books (where you give away the first in the series, and then folks are prompted to get the next one).

My biggest headache? Formatting the manuscript. And really — it wasn’t a full-blown migraine type of headache. Just the kind of dull sort of ache that happens after a long day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started

  • I used to teach people how to use Microsoft Office software for a living (waaaay back in the day); so even though I’m not intimately familiar with the current version of MS Word, I know the functionalities and what they’re capable of accomplishing.
  • I’m comfortable with technology and don’t freak out when I need to learn something new; this is a state of mind you need to cultivate if you’re going to feel successful in the digital publishing (DIY) world.
  • I know how to use Google to look for answers to my questions. Need to know how to do a particular thing? Google it!

So that’s the place where I started from (technology-wise) in terms of launching this book.

Here are my tips for making your experience just a little bit smoother

  • Read the directions. My honey is constantly teasing me about my habit for not doing this. Yes, I’m a bookworm. Yes, I love to read. Just not directions. Those? I skim those (if at all). In this case, it’s a good idea to read the directions thoroughly before you start. Had I done that, I would’ve known that I needed to save my manuscript not just in html, but in html filtered. Apparently there’s a difference.
  • Zip your final files before you upload them. Html projects create a separate file for things like images. Your html doc needs to be zipped with that folder to keep everything together nice and tight.
  • Format your pages to 3.5″ x 5″ so you can see what your book will look like (roughly) at those dimensions. It helps to see if you need to fix any line breaks. (Then put the margins back before you save and upload them to Kindle.)
  • My best advice? Don’t rely on the Select program as your sole marketing channel. It’s just one tiny piece of your entire book marketing plan. And when my 90-day contract expires, I’ll be adding my book to Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iTunes and Smashwords (not to mention my own website!).

Until then, if you’d like to get my book for free, my last free download day is Wednesday, June 6th (24 hours only).

Bio: Tea (pronouced like Tay’ah) Silvestre is the author of “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd: How thinking like a Chef can help you build a solid business.”  She’s also the founder of the Tastiest Small Biz Brand Awards and a sought-after marketing consultant and speaker.

Ebooks Will Be Hot Holiday Gifts: Will Yours Be One of Them?

With the average cost of a hardcover book running $22, ebooks are an attractive and popular gift choice this year. In 2010, Amazon announced that digital ebooks were outselling their physical counterparts. Then according to the American Association of American Publishers, ebook sales in 2011 have jumped 160.1% over the previous year. Will your ebook be one of them?

Capitalizing on this trend, Paradise Publishers announced their “All You Can Read” Buffet of 4,000+ Ebooks, now through Cyber Monday, November 28th. Gift recipients choose exactly which digital books they want: whether it’s romance, business, self-help, weight loss and many more from over 48 categories in all.

For unlimited VIP access to over 4,000 ebooks for just $19.97, visit: http://www.free-ebooks.net/promo

With the sale of digital books expected to reach nearly one billion dollars in the United States for 2011 and triple by 2015, according to a research report by Forrester Research Inc., will your ebook be available on one or all of the popular ebook publishing websites? If not, what are you waiting for? Look for tips on creating your ebook in upcoming issues.

Tell me about your ebook.