Digital books (or eBooks) are quickly gaining in popularity as more authors self publish their book not only in print form but also as an eBook edition. But as is so often the case with new mediums, you need to consider a few things before opting to go the eBook route. Many authors have little or no experience with this new format. This article should give you a quick overview of the ePub format and how to use it optimally.
eBook and ePub – What is the difference?
The terms eBook and ePub are often used interchangeably. But are they two words that actually refer to completely different items? While basically the same thing, the main difference is that the term eBook describes digital books in general, while ePub denotes the exact file format. Since all digital book platforms other than Amazon’s Kindle (which uses .mobi) use ePub, this format is often equated with eBooks as a whole.
ePub files will not open with Word
Many authors convert their manuscript produced in Word into an ePub file and then realize it cannot be opened. The ePub format requires a special reading program to open it. On eReaders and tablets, these are pre-installed. However, to open the ebook on a desktop computer the user needs a software program such as Adobe Digital Editions or FBReader.
eBooks are more flexible than paper books
Many writers wonder why converting their Word document into ePub results in a file that does not look anything like the printed book. The ePub format is designed to be readable on any digital reading device. In principle, it is a collection of HTML files rather like a mini-website. Consequently, an eBook can look different according to which device is used to read it. In addition, each person reading an eBook can make their own decision regarding the typeface and size they prefer for viewing the book.
eBooks are one-column documents
Some authors try compulsively to transfer the multi-column layout of their printed book to the digital book format. For this purpose, they often use tables. Especially on smaller reading devices or for larger font sizes, this can be very unattractive and make the book difficult to read. eBooks (particularly in the format ePub2) are designed for single-column continuous texts. Additional information should be linked as an extra paragraph at the end of a chapter or as information at the end of the book.
Links – the advantage of eBooks
One of the great advantages of eBooks over printed books is the ability to include active links in books. In this way, a book’s table of contents acts like a website menu by taking the reader to the desired location. Likewise, links within the body text are like hyperlinks that refer to other chapters and excerpts. Finally, if the digital reading device has internet access, an eBook can even link to external websites.