What is an eBook?

The eBook (short for electronic book) is any written material similar in content and presentation to that of a printed book or magazine, but delivered digitally or electronically. Recent developments in the standardisation of eBook formats and the introduction of new eBook reading devices have brought the eBook into a new era.

The improvement in eBook readers and a trend towards format standardisation has led to a sudden spurt in growth in the purchase of eBooks. In July 2010, Amazon reported that sales of eBooks for Kindle outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever. But it isn’t just Kindle – figures are on the rise across the board. eBook sales grew exponentially in the first quarter of 2010, jumping from just 1.5% of total US book sales in 2009 to 5% of the market in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), while the American Publishing Association estimated eBooks represented 8.5% of sales as of mid-2010.

At this point, only avid technologists are saying that this is the end of the printed book and a wise approach for authors is to work out the best option for them to produce both printed and eBook versions. Bestselling author in print, Stephen King, reportedly made more than a million dollars in 24 hours by releasing an online short story which sold for US$2.50. More than 400,000 people bought it.

The eBook phenomenon is here, it’s now and it’s happening. Australian authors of all genres of book, whether new to publishing or not, should consider the opportunities created by eBooks.

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