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About eBooks

As noted elsewhere, the Poitin Press is a virtual publishing house in that it sells its books over the Internet both as printed and eBooks. Our reasons for us doing so are explained in "About Us". In this section we would like to briefly explain the current state of eBooks, what your options are, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each. The intent is to help you make your choice of which is for you.

The Choices

Presently, there are several different formats of eBook readers. They fall into two basic categories: Those that run on a computer such as a workstation, tablet or laptop, and those that require a special device, often called an "eBook" but are really a special-purpose computer in their own right. A third category based on smart phones and similar hand-held devices is also available. 

The Available Hardware

One interesting factoid is that while the popularity of workstations is dropping, they are not being completely replaced by "Internet appliances" as touted in the last few years, or even smart phones, or the new "Tablets." By far and away, the choice is still the combination of laptops and smart phones, which are generally used in combination by today's cyber road-warriors. The smart phone or now tablet is used during meetings and such and then downloaded into the laptop so that the information can be gathered into spreadsheets, reports, and presentations. This makes the laptop, tablet and even workstation important hardware for the eBook marketers because the target customer is likely to already have one, and so does not have to buy, support and cart around yet another bit of hardware.

Still, in the last year, dedicated eBook readers, particularly the Kindle, have become more and more important as their sales increase.

This means that the eBook publisher needs to support a number of different hardware platforms, which dictates the choice of formats.

Available eBook formats -- Yesterday

This market has changed a good deal in even the last couple of years. For a long time there were several "major" formats such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or PDF, Microsoft Reader or LIT, and Palm eBook or PDB.

The Adobe format looks the most like a printed book, and indeed is just the PDF generated from the digital form of the book. Its real advantage was it worked well with technical books or other books with many tables and figures.

The LIT format really was the Open eBook (OEB) forum format with several additional features. Based on HTML, it was easily adapted to a number of different hardware platforms, allowing reformatting the pages on the fly so they fit the available space. This, however, was not particularly useful for books with many tables and illustrations.

Palm, which was selling the Palm Pilot, then the leading PDA, was very limited in its display screen and so the PDB format was -- well, basically crude. But it worked well on the Palm Pilot and so it was a popular eBook format for number of years. But of late, it has been surpassed by the new generation of "Smart Phones" and so has fallen in sales dramatically.

Thus for a number of years, we offered our books in these formats and while we sold many copies of both the Adobe and Palm formatted eBooks, up until now, we have sold exactly two copies of books in the LIT format, which we do not understand as it is an excellent eBook format.

Likewise, the Palm format is no longer selling well. It has been surpassed by the new generation of "Smart Phones" and so has fallen in sales dramatically.

This has forced us to look at the second generation of eBooks currently on offer.

Available eBook formats -- Today

The market has changed substantially in the last couple years with the advent of both the EPUB format offered by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) -- an offshoot of the Open eBook Form and the introduction of the Kindle by Amazon. The Kindle is the first commercially successful eBook Reader, and opened the doors for dozens of competitive machines. However, at this point in time, the Kindle is the market leader, driving sales through the aggressive marketing of the product by Amazon, and the many, many thousands of eBooks purchasable directly from Amazon's Kindle bookstore. The "native" ebook format the Kindle uses is the MobiPocket or MOBI format, but it also will display the EPUB format as well.

And there are a couple dozen other eBook formats out there as well, but when you look at the market, there are the PDF based eBooks which are still popular with those who need many tables and illustrations in their books, and there are the EPUB and MOBI formatted books, both of which are based on HTML and are flowable, or dynamically reformatable, an important feature for many who want to read their eBooks on smart phones or other small screen devices.

Thus it could be argued that the EPUB format has replaced the LIT format, and the MOBI has replaced the Palm PDB. Both the new formats are superior to their predecessors, and both are more widely supported. For example, the Kindle reader and its related software supports both. And the new Adobe Digital Editions Reader support both the old PDF format, which is still very popular, as well as the EPUB format.

It is basically because of this widespread support that we are going to continue to offer our eBooks in both the EPUB and Kindle MOBI formats. And we are offering all our books in the Kindle Store as well at the Barnes and Noble Nook store, for your convenience.

If you would like to know more about how to order our books, both in printed and eBook formats, or where to find the software to read these on you devices, including your Apple computers, iPads and iPhones, go to "How to Order".

 

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