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eBooks 101 – Part 1 – What Is An eBook?

Monday, January 5th, 2015 by | Filed Under: eReaders

Lynn from Norwalk writes:

I have been given the gift of several electronic Amazon books by young relatives for Christmas. They intend for me to read them on the Android tablet I received for my birthday in October. I can read e-mail, go to the Internet and play the occasional game on this tablet, but I am afraid I am puzzled by the notion of electronic books. I have to admit that my first thought was to perhaps print these books from my computer, but I read your article about the cost and inconvenience of printing an entire book. Can you explain just how these books work and also what you would consider the advantages and disadvantages of this type of item to be compared to the old-fashioned book. Also, it was necessary to donate quite a lot of older books to charity when I downsized from a larger home to a smaller condominium and my nephew said it might be possible to reacquire many of these books for free in an electronic format. He offered to instruct me on his next visit, but I would prefer to do it myself if I can.

 First of all, congratulations on you Christmas gifts. I always love to receive books and appreciate it when friends and family want to share books they have enjoyed with me. First of all, for all the physical book lovers out there, let me say that I love books. I love books so much that I turned my coat closet into a library.



But I also love electronic books (we’ll call them eBooks from now on in this article.)  Here’s a couple of  screenshots of my Kindle library, which contains as many books as my physical library.


Let’s start with basics – eBook is a term used to describe a file designed to be read on an electronic device, usually an eReader, tablet or smartphone. You can also read an eBook on your PC, but they are generally consumed on hand-held devices and meant to be portable like a physical copy of a book.

eBooks and eMagazines are usually formatted to provide a similar look to the page of a physical publication. 


eBooks come in different file formats depending on where you purchase them. Some of the more common formats are ePub, PDF, plain TXT and Amazon’s .azw format for Kindle booiks.

 You turn the pages by simply swiping on touch screen devices. On some older eReaders, you push a button. What’s the difference between an eReader and a tablet? eReaders are designed just for reading and have limited functions. They often have a display that’s very friendly on the eyes, known as eInk. Sometimes the screen is not illuminated like a tablet, you you need to have a light on to read on these eReaders.

As I pointed out in a previous article, while printing eBooks can be a temptation, it’s usually a bad idea that will run through a lot of ink.

Tablets and smartphones are designed to be Internet appliances. These devices run apps that let you surf the web, read e-mail, play games and do other work in addition to allowing you to read eBooks. To read books on your tablet, you’ll need to download a reader app. These apps can be found in the Google Play store for an Android tablet, the Apple App store for an iPad and The Windows Store for a Windows tablet. Most often they are free.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at how to purchase and download eBooks.

~ Cynthia



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3 Responses to “eBooks 101 – Part 1 – What Is An eBook?”

  1. charles Raedy says:

    Excellant. Waiting for chapter 2.

  2. […] In part 1 of this article, I started to answer some questions from Lynn. She received Amazon eBooks as a Christmas gift and wants to know more about how they work. We’ve already looked at what an eReader is.  In part 2, we’ll answer more of Lynn’s question: […]

  3. […] wrote with questions about how eBooks work and I did my best to answer them in part 1 and part 2 of this series. She also wanted to know what I thought the pros and cons of eBooks versus […]

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