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Digital publishing - eBooks and mobile devices


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An introduction to eBooks for information professionals. Focus is on the South African market. Notes include links to core concepts - e.g. file formats, ereaders vs. media tablets, ebook aggregators.

An introduction to eBooks for information professionals. Focus is on the South African market. Notes include links to core concepts - e.g. file formats, ereaders vs. media tablets, ebook aggregators.

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  • &*
  • For a comparison of all Amazon’s Kindle models: information:
  • E-ink displays are clearer the more light you shine on it – like paper! However, any display that has some glass or plastic covering to protect it will have some glare in sunlight. This picture illustrates viewing e-ink outside – though you really have to try it yourself.
  • works by shining light through liquid crystals (like shutters).Light passes through red, green and blue filters.The display is made out of these red/green/blue 'pixels’
  • One can include smartphones in this comparison; however, lower the price range and display size (significantly).
  • Above is the Kindle app running on various devices. You can associate a Kindle account with up to six devices (usually the same for other platforms). So, for instance, I share my account with a friend, have Kindle for iPad, Kindle for PC and, of course, my actual eReader (which doesn’t count towards the six-device limit). My books are synchronized across all these devices.
  • For more details, read:
  • Details:
  • Details:
  • Details:
  • Image: [most recent version]
  • I base much of this lecture on Gary McLaren’s simple introduction to eBooks. His book comes highly recommended as a basic primer:
  • One of the places where I look for ebooks is Manybooks. Manybooks makes finding free ebooks (public domain, or released as promotional material) easier, since it adds layer of metadata to existing digitized books (e.g. from Project Gutenberg). I’ll download a MOBI version, but should I have an EPUB reader (e.g. Nook, Kobo, iPad, or most other single-purposes eReaders or media tablets), I’ll go for that format. PDF remains popular, but isn’t easily reflowable (see notes on reflowability of media).
  • I then just save this file to my eReader’s content directory. Notice how my computer already recognizes that this is a Kindle document because I’ve associated my Kindle for PC with that format.
  • Notice that, when I attach my eReader to my PC via a USB cable, it acts like a flash disk. I still have 2.3 gigabytes of storage (enough for potentially 600 more books).
  • Kindle reads MOBI, but notice how some eBooks in this folder are in the AZW format. This is a format that is protected, or DRMed. These are the books that I purchased from Amazon; I can’t just transfer them to someone else’s device (though I –can- lend some books out, under certain circumstances).
  • I can 1) browse the Kindle store (where I can also subscribe to newspapers, magazines or blogs for regular delivery) or 2) browse web sites such as or (for free books). The Kindle’s web browser is rather clunky, but that’s because the devices wasn’t designed to be a media tablet.
  • eReaders (as well as media tablet and smart phones) can connect to the Internet via 3G or Wi-Fi.
  • My publishing students have to hand craft EPUB books; here’s me browsing the books through Kindle for PC.
  • Transcript

    • 1. eBooks
      Introduction for information specialists (publishers, librarians, media professionals, etc.)
    • 2. This is the time for eBooks
      2010: Association of American Publishers reports eBook sales of members US$441 million (up 164% from 2009)
    • 3. Rocket eBook Reader (1998)
    • 4. This is the time of eBooks
      Ebooks have existed for decades now
      (previous slide: old eBook readers in late 90’s)
      First challenge: hardware & displays 
      Second challenge: software & formats 
      Third challenge: content, distribution, marketing etc. 
    • 5. What is an eBook?
      Simply an electronic file – read on your device of choice
      Various formats (more on main formats later) e.g. PDF
      [Demonstration: various eBooks on my Kindle, iPad, laptop]
    • 6. Why read eBooks?
      Good reading experience now
      Less expensive (overall...)
      Environmentally friendly (except...)
      Space savings (what about ‘digital space’?)
      Reading aids (e.g. bookmarking, sharing..)
      Navigation (referencing, hyperlinking)
    • 7. Why read eBooks?
      You can write in eBooks
      People with disabilities
      Always accessible
      Instant delivery (if your connection is reliable)
      No shipping charges (except...)
      Enhancement opportunities (e.g. multimedia)
    • 8. How to read eBooks
      Computer / laptop
      Media tablets (and, of course, mobile phones)
    • 9. eReaders
      Kindle (65% market share in US, 2011*)
      Sony Reader
      iRiver Story, etc.
      Not going into too much detail; in South Africa, you’re most likely to buy a Kindle or iRiver model (ease of delivery, service support etc.)
    • 10. “A sheet of paper that can be electronically reconfigured instantaneously to display any page from any book, article or document”
      E-ink is what makes eReaders different
    • 11.
    • 12.
    • 13. Amazon’s Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard
    • 14.
    • 15.
    • 16. eReader prices are dropping steeply
    • 17. Media tablets (tablet computers)
      iPad (Apple)
      Playbook (Blackberry)
      Android devices
      E.g. Asus, Motorola (purchased by Google)...
      Kindle Fire
      Media tablets are unique in that 1) they operate on touch, and 2) they aren’t supposed to store your media
    • 18. Apple iPad
    • 19.
      Blackberry Playbook
    • 20. Android-powered tablets (e.g. Asus EEE)
    • 21. Zoomed in LCD (red, green, blue filters)
    • 22. eReader or media tablet?
      • Long battery life
      • 23. Low cost
      (R900-R2,000 + S&I)
      • E-ink display (typically)
      • 24. Low functionality
      Media tablets
      • Limited battery life
      • 25. Expensive
      (R3,000-R10,000 + S&I)
      • LCD display (typically)
      • 26. High functionality
    • Reading eBooks
      Kindle for Blackberry, Android, iPad, iPhone..
      Kindle for PC, Mac
      Here, you see that you can read your books on any device, as long as you have the right app installed.
      It’s sometimes more accurate to say people buy into a platform, not a specific piece of hardware or software.
    • 27.
    • 28. eBook formats
      Most familiar, but fixed-layout (?)
      Mobi / PRC
      Original format for PDAs, etc. (now owned by Amazon)
      Amazon’s DRMed format
      Most accessible format
    • 29.
    • 30.
    • 31.
    • 32.
    • 33. eBook stores
      International (to an extent...)
      Amazon Kindle store
      Barnes & Noble / Kobobooks
      Apple iBooks
      Exclusive Books
      Or at least, ones worth mentioning for the purposes of this introduction...
    • 34. How to publish an eBook
      Various ways, but it’s often safest to sell through a well-known vendor (e.g. Amazon), or to use an aggregator (e.g. Smashwords).
      Locally, and Exclusive Books also sell eBooks (details on request).
    • 35.
    • 36. eBook aggregators
    • 37. Digital rights management
      Restricts what you can do with the material.
      DRM is a necessary evil (or is it...)
      Three major eBook DRM schemes:
      Amazon DRM (.mobi)
      Adobe DRM (.epub, .pdf)
      Apple FairPlay DRM (.epub, .pdf)
    • 38. Public domain books (
      Manybooks isn't necessarily an eBook vendor; rather, a distributor of public domain titles.
    • 39.
    • 40. Attaching eReader via USB cable
    • 41. Directory with the eReader’s books
    • 42. But what about getting books wirelessly?
    • 43.
      Local area network.
      Very fast!
      Coverage limited (need Wi-Fi hot spots)
      Need to connect manually
      Wi-Fi doesn’t guarantee internet access
      Cellular network.
      Can be very slow!
      Wide coverage (e.g. at the beach, or on the train)
      Connected automatically
      3G often guarantees internet access
    • 44. Selecting a Wi-Fi network
    • 45. Managing already purchased books (via your browser)
    • 46. Kindle for PC
    • 47. Kindle for iPad
    • 48. Kindle for PC/iPad opens your browser for browsing
    • 49. Select device (up to six / account) to send to
    • 50. Select device (up to six / account) to send to
    • 51. That’s it!
    • 52. For more updates, information etc.
      Especially for publishers & librarians
      Especially for content developers
      I love tinkering with eBooks; join the #eprdctnchannel on Twitter or contact me for a chat!