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An Introduction to Ebooks

Electronic publishing of books is a major development that is quickly causing changes in the industry. Epublishing has developed rapidly over the past couple years. Different companies have launched with different strategies and ideas on how ebooks will be delivered. Will people read them on new devices known as electronic readers? Will they read them on the computer screen? Electronic devices such as palm pilots and electronic readers allow people the potential to store hundreds of books at a time. This large potential market has generated a large amount of money being poured into epublishing o develop both the hardware and the software to make this electronic transition a reality. However, encouraging people to give up their comfortable hardcover and paperback books with dog-eared pages has been no easy measure.

At first it was new upstart technology companies developing the technology and launching new brands. However, recently the traditional publishing houses have also climbed on board and are converting their lines of new releases and backlists into the available electronic delivery formats, including both ebooks and print-on-demand technology. Print-on-demand (also known as POD) allows publishers to print a single book at a time and avoid costly print runs of thousands of books. A standard for ebooks has also been developed by OEBF, an organization of publishers and technology companies. However, Adobe PDF is also a widely used format for ebooks and it competes with the OEB standard.

Because ebook technology is faster and can be implemented without the need for expensive print jobs a growing number of publishers and publishing services that produce electronic books have emerged. These companies aim to compete with the traditional publishers with new product offerings and without the expenses of regular printing. While it is good to see competition in the industry, the epublishers have been to slow to convert readers to ebooks and they face increasing competition from traditional publishers who are entering the ebook arena. However, on the plus side for the new epublishers, technology companies, including Microsoft, are working on rapidly developing software and hardware to turn book lovers into ebook readers. Even individual authors have challenged the style of traditional publishing. Horror author Stephen King is publishing a serialized novel solely on the Web with early success.

Where Do Authors Fit In?

Authors fit in at the same place as always. They are the most important element of ebooks, just as they are in books. Now the author just has new formats to consider, new publishers to consider and of course, new rights to consider. Just as in book publishing, a variety of electronic publishing styles exist. Some will publish your book for you for a fee (subsidy publishing), some do not charge fees but will only publish a limited amount of what they receive and some fall somewhere in between these two. Authors have to weigh the differences among these new ebook publishers, while also still considering the old publishers when making a decision about where to submit or publish their work. Some authors with technical skills may even avoid publishers altogether and create their own ebooks themselves. Whatever decision you make it is important as an author to familiarize yourself with emerging technology. At a minimum, you should at least be aware of your electronic rights and know what epublishing is.

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