eBook conversion services – FAQs

Q. What are eBooks?
Most current eBooks exist as packages that can be read on computing devices or on a dedicated e-reader device. Some eBooks are enhanced to include indexes, dictionaries, maps, video, and geolocation or interactive elements, such as simulations as an integral part of the book. Most eBook reading platforms permit bookmarking and annotations. At this time, the majority of trade digital books do not have these features.
Q. What are the different eBook formats?
There are two main eBook formats:-

Epub 3 This is the most widely supported format. it is overseen by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and looks set to become the standard. Epub books can be read on almost all (non Amazon) dedicated readers, desktop and tablet computers as well as smart phones running Android, iOS and Windows operating systems. Epub books do not usually have pages in the conventional sense, instead the text flows allowing the reader to change the text size at will. Epubs can contain enhancements such as web links, interactive elements, audio and video clips.

Kindle (mobi, prc, KF8, azw) Amazon’s proprietary format, very similar to epub in its capabilities but only readable on Amazon devices and software. Amazon provide software to allow Kindle books to be read on Apple, Windows and Android operating systems. This is the only eBook format available from Amazon.

Adobe Acrobat (PDF) The only universally readable format, its major shortcoming is that pages have an unchangeable, fixed, layout and the text cannot be resized without resizing the whole page.

Q. What advantages do eBooks offer over traditional print books?
eBook readers are compact; a single -book reader can hold thousands of eBooks. eBook readers are compact, lightweight and portable. With today’s technology you can read eBooks anywhere, on the bus, train, aeroplane, and while queuing. Using the most common lending technologies, library users do not incur overdue fines because eBooks ìtime outî on a patron’s reader at the end of the loan period. ebooks are delivered almost instantaneously. You can purchase, download and start reading them within minutes, without leaving your chair. You don’t have to go to a book shop or library to obtain them or wait for days, weeks and sometimes more for them to arrive in the mail. It is possible to purchase an eBook 24 hours a day, every day of the year, wherever you are.

Worldwide availability – Anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world can buy your book. eBooks can contain links, for easy access to more information, related websites
and the author’s other works.

eBooks are searchable. You can quickly and easily search for any information or content in an eBook. eBook readers and browsers are more effective in meeting the accessibility needs of
users with visual impairment. Many have built-in screen readers, screen enlargement options and text-to-speech

eBooks do not require printing, shipping and physical processing like traditional print books so more of the sale price can go to the author.

eBooks are easy to update or correct – new editions are not tied to print runs and can be issued almost instantaneously.

eBooks do not require storage space unlike traditional print. Once published, eBooks are permanently available and never go “out of stock”.

There is a definite “cool” factor associated with eBooks.

Q. What are the disadvantages of eBooks?
People like books, the feel, the look, even the smell.

The batteries never go flat in a printed book.

Printed books are more robust – you can drop them, get them wet, leave them in a hot place and even prop up wobbly tables with them and they will still be readable.

The hardware is relatively expensive.

Many current eBook retailers and distributors use proprietary digital rights management (DRM) software to control access to the eBook.

A standardised file format for eBooks is still evolving, although EPUB dominates and EPUB3 is likely to see widespread adoption.

eBook use statistics usually cannot be tracked within the library ILS system.

Licensing terms of use for eBooks may restrict user rights under the copyright law, such as library lending and fair use.

There are significant reader privacy concerns. Some retailers lock their customers into a particular format, I.E. Amazon with Kindle.

Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of eBooks for people with disabilities?
Advantages might include text-to-speech capabilities and font enlargement.

Disadvantages might be DRM employed by publisher to prevent text-to-speech functionality. On the newer dedicated e-readers, on iPads, on smart phones and on laptops, it is easier to turn a page than it is with a hard copy book. You often have multiple ways on the same reader to turn a page: a screen tap, a key press, a mouse click, or a flick of the finger.

Q. Is there an industry standard for eBooks?
There is a standard format adopted by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It is EPUB. In practice, differing DRM systems prevent device interoperability, and the quality of digital books differs across publishers. However, there are a growing number of validation suites for EPUB, which supports their standardization. A new version EPUB3, has been released for final comment before publication as a standard. See http://idpf.org/epub/30/spec/epub30-overview.html.
Q. Is the cover image available?
In most cases, yes.
Q. Which eBook reader is best?
It all depends on what the reader is seeking and is willing to pay. eBook readers vary in weight, screen size, resolution and digital rights management controls (DRM). Readers are reading eBooks on a variety of other electronic devices (phones, computers, and other handheld devices). The types of books a reader likes will also have a bearing on the device they choose. Novels and
non-fiction, that are primarily text, are well suited to black & white e-readers; while full-colour or graphics-intensive books, such as children’s and lifestyle books, are best presented on multi-function tablet devices and computers.
Q. What format should I get?
That will depend on the devices you use. EPUB is an open standard supported and endorsed by the overwhelming majority of publishers, distributors, and trade associations, including the American Association of Publishers. Users of Amazon’s Kindle can only use mobi/prc/KF8/azw and PDF formats.
Q. What impact does a vendor’s platform have on eBooks?
The procedures for downloading vary, which can make it more difficult for libraries to offer and support an eBook service to the public. A library user may be unable to access and download eBooks that are offered only in a propriety format that requires the use of a particular e-reader.

Most eReading systems are integrated with the manufacturer’s eBook shop, which allow the user to purchase and download directly from their reading system.

Q. Can all eBooks be loaded onto a device, or does it depend on the vendor and the device?
It depends on the vendor and the device. An EPUB book with no DRM can be loaded and read on any of several devices. An AZW book from Amazon can be read only on a Kindle or device loaded with Kindle software.
Q. What is DRM?
DRM is Digital Rights Management. It is a way of securing an eBook (or music or other digital file) so that only someone with the correct key can open it and use it.
Q. How does DRM work?
There are many different forms of DRM, just as there are many types of physical locks. One simple form uses time and date and takes advantage of the fact that computers have built in clock calendars. The e-reading software on the PC checks the current date and time whenever the eBook is opened. When the current date and time are later than the eBook’s due date (which the e-reading software knows), it refuses to open the book. Some DRM systems rely on the credit card of the purchaser. Some use a complex encryption of the text and build the decryption key into their proprietary e-reader.
Q. How many libraries provide eBooks?
In 2015, 94% of libraries indicated they offer ebooks to users.
Why do libraries offer eBooks?
Public libraries have established relationships with their communities that begin when parents bring their very young children to the library to read books, and these relationships continue through adulthood. Many readers have purchased dedicated reading devices or multipurpose computer tablets and expect the public library to offer eBook downloads as an extension of print library lending. As people age and eyesight diminishes, eBooks offer users the ability to enhance the reading experience by adjusting font size and screen background. Visually impaired users have an opportunity to gain access to millions of works previously unavailable to them. Library users want books in regular print, large print, audio book and eBook formats. Libraries want to offer the user the right book, in the right format at the right time. eBooks are now part of that service.

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