What’s So Great About eBooks?

The Most Environmentally Friendly Books of Them All

Not long ago, the only option available to environmentally conscious book buyers was to check the inside of a paperback to ensure it was printed on FSC-certified paper. Now there’s another option that doesn’t require any paper at all: eBooks. This is good news for consumers and publishers alike.

The term “eBook” stands for “electronic book.” eBooks are the digital equivalent to conventional printed books and can be downloaded directly to a computer or hand-held eBook reading device in a matter of minutes. This technology enables consumers to purchase books from the comfort of their homes and offices without worrying about wasted paper or shipping/handling fees. It allows people to store several books in one keyword-searchable, lightweight container. Plus, it saves publishers (particularly self-publishers) from paying the expenses associated with printing, storage, distribution, and book returns. The benefits of this new technology are numerous!

There are several eBook file formats to choose from; and there are even more software programs and hardware devices designed to download and view them. To keep things simple, this article will focus on the three commonly used eBook formats that are available for publication through PPG:

1. PDF files (Adobe eBook Reader)
2. LIT files (Microsoft Reader)
3. PDB files (Palm Reader)

.PDF (Adobe eBook Reader)

If writers want their eBooks to look identical to their printed books, a .PDF file is the way to go. The .PDF format preserves the original graphic design of each page regardless of which device is being used to view it. Another advantage here is that Adobe eBook Reader is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, on both desktops and laptops. (In fact, most of the standard eBook readers can read this form of eBook.)

.LIT (Microsoft Reader)

If writers feel it is important for their readers to be able to adjust font sizes, reflow text, and change their screen resolution at will, then the .LIT file format is a good choice. The Microsoft Reader software that works with an .LIT eBook is available for Windows operating systems on both desktop and laptop computers plus a special handheld device known as a Pocket PC.

.PDB (Palm Reader)

Palm Reader software combines the flexibility of Microsoft Reader (allows readers to adjust fonts, reflow text, and change screen resolution) with the adaptability of Adobe eBook Reader (has been adapted for use on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, for both desktops and laptops, as well as Palm OS and Pocket PC handheld devices). The .PDB file format is the right choice for writers who value functionality ahead of graphic design and wish to reach a broader audience of readers.

Like PPG, some other Canadian book publishers already offer to produce eBooks along with conventional paperback books, and this is a step in the right direction. As the world evolves, all publishers (self-publishers included) must be willing to evolve along with it. Preserving our trees today will help to preserve the entire planet for tomorrow.

This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010.

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