eBooks get a bad rap. (We'll admit that we’re biased.) Seriously, though, there are many people who would really enjoy eBooks if they would give them a try. But there are some persistent myths about this great reading format that just won’t die. So here we’re going to list the 10 worst myths about eBooks and try to drive the stake of truth through their hearts.
1) You can’t share an eBook. While this may have been true once, and that was years ago, it is decidedly untrue now. In fact, many booksellers have developed specific software that allows you to share, loan and borrow eBooks, including the big kahuna of booksellers, Amazon. It is true that Amazon restricts which books you can share and the process is a bit tedious. That’s why we were glad to see the entrance into the market of UK start up ValoBox in December of last year. ValoBox will offer a new reading platform that is independent of a closed-platform such as Kobo or Amazon. The vision is to provide digital content that can be read on any internet-connected device. We’ll see more from ValoBox as the company gets fully off the ground in the coming months.
2) You need a special eReader for eBooks. Certainly you can read an eBook on a dedicated device like Kindle or Nook. But did you know that both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free apps that you can download and then read their books on your PC or Mac computer, any Apple iOS device (iPhone or iPad) or Android device? No eReader necessary. And, as noted above, there are other options such as the new ValoBox.
3) You can’t make margin notes or turn down pages in an eBook. Actually, it’s easy to make notes in an eBook, as well as to place bookmarks on multiple pages. You just click on the note icon in whatever reading software you’re using and a little box will pop up, allowing you to insert comments in the eBook text. Click on another icon and all of the notes you made in a given book will become visible so that you can go back and check them anytime you wish.
4) eBooks are easy to lose or erase. Once an eBook is downloaded it will remain on your reading device or computer indefinitely. Beyond that, most booksellers and device manufacturers provide storage space on their servers (often referred to as “the cloud”) where the eBooks you purchase can be re-downloaded at any time.
5) eBooks cause eye strain. Not true, say medical doctors. “Most of what our mothers told us about our eyes was wrong,” says Dr. Travis Meredith in the New York Times.
6) You can’t read eBooks in the bath or at the beach. Also not true. There are many enterprising readers who have come up with ways to protect their ebook readers from splashes, sand and other hazards. Most involve zip-lock plastic bags, as one blogger describes here, although amazon and many other retailers do offer special waterproof cases for eBook reading devices. Some are transparent so that you can read while the device is inside the case.
7) eBook readers run out of power too quickly. Some people fear that their reading device will run out of power at some inopportune moment, say when they are in mid-air over Asia and not expected to land for another nine hours. Like so many other eBook myths, this may have been true at one time, when eBooks first came on the scene, but no longer. In fact, most airplanes, trains, buses and automobiles now have charging outlets available near every seat. But even for those times when you’re traveling on foot (or by camel or sailboat) without access to power, you need not worry. Many eReaders last for days, weeks or even months, depending on how you use them.
8) eBooks are low quality. It’s true that some eBooks may have spelling errors or include inaccuracies. In many of those instances, the eBook in question is released by a private individual or firm and is part of a free promotion. More often than not an eBook released by a reputable publishing company, from the big guys to the small presses, will be of good quality. If you’re interested in specifics, you can read about eBook digital code and quality issues at Digital Book World.
9) eBooks are easy to steal so they hurt authors and publishers. It’s usually quite difficult to steal an eBook that is offered by a reputable publisher or bookseller. That’s because many eBooks are encoded with digital rights management (DRM) software that enforces copyright protection. However, DRM also makes it challenging for people to share ebooks, which is something that most consumers want to do (See #1 above). Therefore, digital publishers are exploring better ways to protect copyrights while allowing consumer sharing. Digital publishing is an evolving industry, so we can expect innovations to come along that will better address ownership concerns.
10) eBooks just don’t feel like a real book. This is a tough one to refute because, obviously, eBooks are an entirely different item from a physical, printed book. So in fairness, we can’t claim that this is a myth. But it is shortsighted, and here’s why: eBooks have advantages that printed books don’t. They’re lighter, for one thing, and that’s important when you’re dragging a suitcase through an airport, backpacking the Cotswolds or lounging in the bath. One cloud account or a single reader can store hundreds, even thousands, of titles. Urban apartment dwellers love this. And eBooks are virtually indestructible. No coffee stains or silverfish to worry about.
Here’s the bottom line. eBooks are different from printed books. Depending on one’s perception, each has its own merits. Most readers find value in owning both and the best way to find out how you feel about eBooks is to give them a try.
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