by Hard Shell
BUY THE BOOK
"Beware the Angel of Death... She holds the key."
Cryptic words scrawled in a dying man's missive to his son are the only clues to murder, treason and romance in Regency England.
Jen's E-Book Primer
E-Books - You've probably heard the term and scratched your head wondering what new geek toy the dot com kids dreamt up. Or said it can't possibly be something for you.
Books are things you dust on shelves or splay across a coffee table to impress your friends, right? Wrong. E-books are for everyone and are just as diverse as their paper cousins.
What is an E-book? The "e" stands for electronic meaning instead of letters displayed in ink on paper, e-books are letters displayed in light on a screen. The first e-books were made and transmitted some 20 years ago to be viewed on monochrome computer monitors, usually in universities. These books were digital files that contained all the words of a book for instantaneous transport and viewing on computer screens across the world. Some 10 years ago, some enterprising folks began the infamous Gutenberg Project that transcribed all the text of classic Public Domain novels in freely traded e-books. Today the classic works of Shakespeare, Dickens, A.C. Doyle and even Victor Hugo among others are some of the first e-books read by new readers.
Since the early days of e-books, the technology for viewing these digital cousins to ink-and-paper tomes has evolved leaps and bounds. Screens for viewing have improved to color as well as monochrome. Portable reading devices and handheld computers (what is commonly called a Palm or PDA) allow folks to carry and read their e-books as they would any paperback.
So too have the digital forms e-books changed. Plain text books now come with pictures, links and in their most commercial form searchable pages. You've probably heard the term Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, and PalmDoc format. These are fancy terms that refer to which reader program you use to display your e-book. Most often your reader program will be defined by what device (i.e. screen) you use to read your e-books. When buying an e-book, it helps to pick a format that works with your reader device of choice.
Many people ask me why do I bother with e-books when the paper ones work just as well? Here are my top 5 scenarios that have me reaching for an e-book version over its print cousin. See if any of these situations apply to you. If so, then an e-book could be just the solution you're looking for.
Ultra- Portable - You're heading out to the beach for a whole week, packing up the car while the kids grumble "Are we there yet?" and just remember there are at least 5 books you'd like to finish while the kids build sandcastles. Trouble is you only have room for 1 in your pocketbook. But if your books were in electronic form, you could take all 5 and then some and still have room for those all important Cheerios snacks for the baby. An e-book is usually less than 1 megabyte (the storage size of a floppy disk). You could carry 5 - 20 on your PDA, 20-100 on a Flash card, 600-1200 on a cd-rom and a few thousand on your laptop computer. Imagine being able to transport your entire library in your pocket with as little effort as it takes to check your e-mail.
Quick Purchase & Delivery - Between work and dinner, the only time you get to yourself all day is the few minutes stolen to read e-mail or look up recipes on FoodTV.com. You're dying for a new book to read but all the stores around you have closed up for the night and there are no babysitters to watch the kids. Or maybe you've visited Amazon.com ("the World's Largest Bookstore") and found a few treasures you can never seem to find in the mall. Trouble is by the time you receive your precious book a week has passed and the time for reading with it. Now imagine you read about the same book and learned there was a convenient e-book form available for instantaneous download. You can find your book, read a sampling, purchase a copy, download and be reading your book all in 5-10 minutes without ever having to find the keys to the car or slip on your tennis shoes.
Searching & Indexing - You remember a really good quote or need to look up directions for a recipe in a book. Print books require you to leaf through a few hundred pages in the vain hope of stumbling on the kernel of information. If they're very advanced, paper books have indexes pointing you to the pages a limited set of words are displayed. With an e-book, you pull up the FIND function, type in your word or phrase and in moments you're instantly transported to the right page.
An E-book Never Forgets - How many times are you right smack in the middle of a book when the phone rings, a child demands attention, or you fall asleep? You've suddenly lost your page and have to spend precious minutes leafing through to catch up. But e-books are so smart now, they remember where you stopped reading even if you forget.
Smaller Than A Breadbox - It doesn't take many purchases to load your bookshelf and coffee table so much you're 3 layers deep in books. Unless you have a mansion to store those tomes, those beloved books become space hogs. But e-books take no shelf space. In fact, you could fit your library's entire children's section on one cd-rom. Imagine 600-1200 novels as easily at your fingertips as your daughter's latest Britney Spears cd.
These are just some of the reasons e-books have become my preferred reading method. Like most of you, I still buy print books time to time. Usually as keepsakes for my coffee table or when they are just not offered any other way. Fortunately, more and more, books today are available in a choice of format so every reader has an option. If you haven't tried an e-book before, now is a good time to give it a whirl. Here are a few places of my favorite places to download a free Classic e-book:
2002 by Jennifer Kokoski