A book which consists of text and/or images, which is available to the public in digital form and can be read off of the flat panel display of the different electronic devices like computers, smartphones, etc. is known as an electronic book or eBook for short.
Now, several eBooks are basically the digital version of a book, in printed form, already in existence. However, in recent times, the number of ebooks which do not have any printed equivalent, has been steadily on the rise.The increase in the number of eBooks being published has also increased the number of dedicated e-reader devices.
The Pros of eBooks
- Portability –
The more pages there are in a printed book, the bigger the space that it needs to fit. An eBook is simply a digital file and any number of ebooks can be fit into an e-reader. The e-reader devices are extremely lightweight and slim facilitating easy portability for multiple books in the same space.
- Convenience –
The rise of the internet has allowed a person to access eBooks anywhere he/she finds convenient, be it at home, at work, while travelling, etc. In fact, ebooks can also be downloaded beforehand to be accessed later on, if the user has the option of accessing the ebook while offline.
- Update –
Books often need to be reprinted, to keep them up to date with the latest information and this can often force publishers and authors to spend a lot of money and time on reprinting. Most eBooks being cloud-based, can have their content updated at any time without any extra time or money spent.
- Sharing –
One of the most innovative features of the eBook, is that multiple users can share the contents of the same eBook. The content can be shared and even liked by several users at the same time. Students, teachers, employees of organisations etc. often use this social feature for peer collaboration.
- Display Control –
The e-reader devices come with an inbuilt brightness feature, that allows the user to adjust the brightness of the screen he/she is reading off of, according to his/her preference. Along with that readers also have the option of changing the size of the font(s) according to their will.
- Augmented Reality –
Advances in technology have allowed the ebook to possess an augmented reality feature which allows a visual, that is augmented and three dimensional, to pop up on the screen of the user when a particular text and/or image on the ebook is pointed at. Educational Institutions are at the forefront of adopting this feature.
- Read Aloud –
Most ebooks have an inbuilt Read Aloud feature. It can make the content of the eBook audible for the user, if the user cannot read the book himself/herself. This can be a huge advantage for users with visual impairments and other learning disabilities. This also helps with the correct pronunciation of a word.
- Interactive Features –
An eBook incorporates several interactive features that keep the user engaged making the whole reading experience much more enjoyable and enhanced. Creating bookmarks, making annotations, quickly and efficiently are a couple of such interesting features that elevate the users reading experience as a whole. Audios and videos can also be embedded within.
- Environment Friendly –
An eBook requires absolutely no amount of paper, for publication. This not only eliminates any kind of printing cost but it also means that millions of trees do not need to be cut down to publish books anymore. The carbon footprint from the rest of the book publication process can also be diminished with ebooks.
- Cost-effective in Long Run –
Owing to the fact that the pre-production cost of ebooks are relatively far lower, their prices are also much less than that of printed books. The absence of covers, printing, packaging, shipping, etc., in the publication of eBooks drastically brings down their prices and as you keep buying eBooks, you keep on saving more and more.
The Cons of eBooks
- Piracy –
The cost(both in terms of money and time) incurred to copy printed books, usually staves off piracy for printed books. However,with eBooks, the whole piracy process can simply involve copying and pasting a text from one document to the next. Minimal money and time is required making eBooks extremely Piracy prone.
- Strain on eyes –
Even though e-reader devices, computer screens, smartphones, etc. all have brightness regulation, the fact remains that the user still has his/her eyes stuck to an electronic screen. Such screens are responsible for a glare which, unlike paper, can cause severe damage to the eyes of the user, with prolonged exposure.
- Compatibility –
Despite the fact that there is a plethora of , different e-reader devices present in the market, it is near impossible to find one single device that is compatible with all the different file formats in which all different eBooks are available. Often files lack proper formatting and with time file formats keep becoming obsolete.
- Charging –
Any kind of electronic device, running on a battery, will require charging from time to time. Even though dedicated e-reader devices require minimal charging, at one time even they must be charged. In the absence of a charging station or the loss of charging wire this can be a huge hindrance.
- Life Span –
Like any other electronic device, even dedicated e-reader devices face several problems. They can hang, fall prey to build up of dust inside the device, water damage, damage from being dropped, etc. Even without external effects e-readers have unreliable life spans. In case of glitchy files, the whole device can get corrupted.
- Upfront Cost –
The cost of ebooks may be comparatively less, but to access any eBook you need to acquire a specialised electronic device like e-reader, smartphone, etc. The cost of any of these devices are far more than any printed book. Not only that, in case that device gets damaged, replacing it is again extremely costly.
Books in their printed form, evoke emotion in human beings. People talk about the smell of a new book, the feel of the book cover, etc. So the feel of holding a book in your own hands can never be replaced. However, the intellectual content of a book will still be there, no matter what form the text inside may be. That is where eBooks come in and with the world becoming increasingly digitised, eBooks seem like they are here to stay.