Faze contributor and author Rick Sutcliffe (http://www.arjay.bc.ca/) is a TWU professor, columnist, speaker, author, and futurist who writes texts on computer programming, ethics in technology, and Irish-flavoured Christian science fiction. He coined the terms “Metalibrary” and “New Renaissance” over two decades ago. He is at least 20 years old.
Electronic books, or ebooks, provide a new, cool, environmentally-friendly, and inexpensive way to read. Differing from their paper cousins only in the binding, ebooks are stored and used as computer files rather than as ink on paper.
One arena that might soon see the leap to ebook use is the classroom. Students would take their handheld ebook readers to the electronic bookstore, load their texts, carry the lot in their bookbag, and not notice the extra weight of a dozen full-length texts.
Ebooks can be purchased directly on the Internet from hundreds of publishers or retail ebookstores. In either case, pay with your credit or debit card, then download it directly as with a free book, or wait for it to arrive as an email attachment, a disk or a CD.
Ebooks can be viewed on a computer screen or using a book reader. About the size of a large trade paperback, these handheld ereaders have high-resolution, easy-to-read screens, and a computer or telephone connector to obtain files. Better yet, they have enough memory to store many book files at once.
Few conventional bookstores carry ebooks yet, but it’s a simple matter for a savvy person to find them. The best bet is an Internet search engine, directory, or specialty information centre. There, locate ebooks by author, subject, genre, ISBN, or title. The online versions of some giant bookstore chains also have searchable ebook sections.
Epublishers and many of their authors have web pages; these have further information, plot summaries, reviews, pictures, and other good stuff. They usually provide several chapters to read free so you can try-before-you-buy, just as in a paper bookstore. If you read a book and like it, you could always write a review and send it to the author. Maybe it’ll get published on the net with your name and website attached.
A few big-name authors such as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Frederic Forsyth, Diana Gabledon, and Colleen McCullough, as well as some large paper houses like Simon and Schuster have already put a toe in the ebook waters, and the field gets more crowded all the time.
If you love paper books to death and just can’t imagine reading any other way, don’t panic. So far, ebooks are an alternative to the traditional ones: they haven’t replaced them … yet. However, you don’t have to be much of a prophet to note that since distributing books electronically is easier, faster, cheaper, and offers greater variety, we should soon see a lot more of them.
Some promise to make the experience better than paper with multimedia readers. Others produce audio versions where the author reads it to you.
Keep in mind, you take the same chances buying an electronic book as a paper one. Maybe you won’t like it after all. But the majority of electronic publishers screen their books carefully, insist on professional editing, and publish only the best. If you read an excerpt first and buy only from reputable publishers, you won’t often be disappointed.
And best of all…free ebooks:
Project Gutenberg www.gutenberg.net/