e-readers were one of the hot products worldwide during the Christmas rush just completed. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) take ebooks to the beach, they are rapidly becoming a more popular reading format – and it’s not just the younger generation who are using them either.
With many mainstream and popular printed books are now available in ebook format, it’s not just niche books that are available in the ebook format. Popular fiction, sporting books, travel and technology are now all e-book enabled, depending on the reader and the provider you choose. What’s more yesterday News Ltd announced that Australia’s first electronic newspaper was being launched (initially for just the Apple iPad, but others may be added)
Adoption of ebooks to date has been somewhat restricted because of a lack of a standard format for ebooks. This has occurred in a similar way to the format wars of the past for VCRs, DVDs, web server operating systems and mobile phones. The result of these widely varying formats has generally seen ebook readers locked to particular formats and particular places where you can buy ebooks to read on them.
An open source program called Calibre could break the ebook format war apart, as it allows ebook format conversion between the varying formats (Input Formats: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT; Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, SNB, TCR, TXT).
To find places to buy ebook readers, first read reviews of the various ebook reader technologies and get Calibre on your computer. You can then manage your ebook library across multiple formats (provided the individual licenses on each book allow it), and buy the books you want from wherever you can get it cheapest. A win-win for you, and win-win for the various ebook providers and writers. Search in Google for directories of shops selling ereaders, or search in Google directly for them.
ebooks have been big overseas and are just getting going in Australia along with tablet PCs and iPads. By the end of 2011 our pick at Geekz is that they will be huge. You still won’t see them at the beach, but we”ll be seeing them as a mainstream product – more than just a nice-to-have gadget.