Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How E-Books Work

‘My revolution will not be televised – it will be downloaded.’ – Alexander Nderitu, Kenyan e-book pioneer

E-books are written works that exist in digital format. Because their production does not include such expenses as printing, paper, binding, warehousing and distribution, they are sold at a fraction of the cost of physical books. Some websites, such as www.free-ebooks.net, give e-books away free of charge. Being online products, they are best marketed by ‘word of mouse’ ie. Internet channels.

E-books are sold or otherwise distributed over the Internet at high speeds. They can be downloaded onto a PC, a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) like Palm Pilot, a Smartphone or an e-reader (palm-top device that is dedicated to e-books) such as the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader. Hand-helds and e-readers are gaining currency around the world for their convenience. Some of them can store hundreds of e-books at a time, so book lovers can carry a virtual library without lugging around much weight. The glowing of the screen means that you can read your books in total darkness (If, say, you are out camping). The small size of the device allows you to read your novels in restaurants, vehicles, leisure parks and almost anywhere else – day or night.

One of the most popular e-book reading programs is the Microsoft Reader. This nifty software comes with ClearType™ technology that makes the text very crisp and easy to read. The program also has a ‘Play’ button on a bar at the foot of the page that, when clicked, activates a voice feature that reads out the text for you until it’s stopped! The voice is rather mechanical and would not be confused with a human reader but who knows what the future holds? Software is upgraded all the time. Maybe in future, a user will be able to choose narrators from a range of voices (male, female, British accent etc), in a number of languages, and the machine narrators will be as eloquent as humans.

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader, an embedded system for reading electronic books, launched in the United States by prominent online bookseller Amazon.com in November 2007. The Kindle uses an electronic paper display, reads the proprietary Kindle (AZW) format (as well as several public formats), and downloads content over Amazon Whispernet (Amazon sends the e-book to your Kindle much like a friend sending an SMS to your mobile phone.)

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