Digital publications are a great threat to the survival of printed ones. Owners and publishers of print magazines, newspapers and books are either crossing over to the e-publishing side that promises them a brighter future, or they are trying to make printed publications more appealing in some other way – by offering free gifts, discounts, inventing disappearing ink that prompts readers to read more quickly, etc. But whatever they do, one thing is clear: the (very near) future of publishing is in its digital form.
No wonder the web is full of commentary and step-by-step guides on how to publish electronic books. E-books are digital publications that can contain all kinds of media, not just text and images. They can include videos, hyperlinks, and even audio components. This makes a printed publication as we know it outdated in the face of the e-book’s interactive potential.
Furthermore, e-books can be distributed much more quickly than print publications ever could, avoiding shipping costs, which makes this one of the top reasons for writers to readily accept the new reign of the digital publication.
Most Common E-book Formats
E-books most commonly come in PDF, EPUB or HTML format, though browsing through popular free e-book sharing websites we can see that there are many more of them. Some of the most popular are:
EPUB – designed by the Open eBook Forum and available for use on iPhone, iPad, Sony Reader, Kobo Reader, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook.
AZV – the official Amazon Kindle format that can be opened on iPhone, Blackberry, Android phones and tablets, PC, Mac, iPad, Windows 8 tablets.
MOBI – the MobiPocket Reader format that can be used on PDAs and smartphones.
ODF – format made for OpenOffice software.
PRC – a MobiPocket format for PCs, smartphones and PDAs.
TXT – a plain text format developed by Notepad or Wordpad, used on PC.
HTML – standard language for creating webpages.
PDF – developed by Adobe Suite, PDF can be opened on all computing devices.
What Makes PDF the Writers’ Top Choice?
Portable Document Format is not THE universal document format by accident. Versatile, easily viewable on any computing platform, compressed (original document can be much smaller when converted into PDF), this format is the most common choice for archiving, sending, sharing, printing and publishing documents.
Electronic books are also best distributed and used in the PDF form, for the following reasons:
1) PDFs can be opened on any device or platform.
The writers’ goal is to have their work reach as many readers as possible. In the vast sea of infinite possibilities, the readers will not pause to fiddle with a book in a format they can’t open. So, writers are ready to do everything in their power to make their fans’ reading experience hassle-free. Creating their e-book in PDF is the first step to making sure their users will not hop on to some more user-friendly publication. Also, since PDF is the most universal format, PDF e-books are easily distributed, and smooth book distribution is one of the writers’ main concerns.
2) Large files become smaller with PDF compression.
Whether an e-book is ten or a thousand pages long, with graphs and images or with links to other pages, it can be made into a PDF very quickly, without losing any of its original formatting and features. Also, PDF is a compressed version of the original file, so a Word file that is 100 MB easily becomes a 10 MB large PDF. If an e-book is packed with images that are pretty big even when turned into PDF, there are ways to shrink the PDF document for easier file distribution.
3) PDF files can be easily edited.
When authors finish polishing up their e-book and turn it into PDF for easy distribution to their readers, it might seem like the process is complete and “sealed”. However, it’s not unusual for writers to come up with new material for upcoming editions of the publication. Adding, removing and revising pages in PDF are easy with PDF converters that convert PDFs to their original format, so that writers can go on to edit their books. These tools can be free or paid, online or desktop. There are excellent free PDF conversion services that can turn PDF e-books into their original Word, Excel or PowerPoint format in less than a minute and all online.
4) PDFs can be locked/ protected.
Some PDF creators allow password protection and 128-bit encryption of the PDF document. This way authors are able to control who views their e-books and to prevent illegal, “pirate” use of their work.
5) PDFs are highly functional as e-books: easily searchable, printable and scalable.
Whether they feel uncomfortable with the size of the page on screen, or they want to hold the book they are reading, PDF e-book readers can quickly and easily accommodate their reading desires because of the versatile nature of the PDF that allows them to smoothly print the publication or change the size of a page without tampering with its quality or proportions. Zooming in on any part of the document or searching for certain words in the long document is very quick and easy.
If these attractive features of the PDF are not enough for writers with more demanding requirements, they have a choice of using advanced PDF management software for creating more compelling and professional looking publications. PCE 3 is an example of software that offers rich and numerous e-book creation and editing possibilities to writers.