E-Book News - Part 2

Archive for E-Book News

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Digital Watermarks or Social DRM is starting to catch on in Europe in a very big way. This new system of encryption makes loading eBooks on other devices or loaning them how to friends quick and intuitive. There are not special programs or tools needed to do any of this, which makes it quite attractive to publishers and online bookstores looking to sell books and still maintain a degree of security.

BooXtream is one of the largest companies who are involved in watermark technology and CEO Huub van de Pol sat down with Good e-Reader to talk how it all fundamentally works and provides an eye opening introspective into the world of digital watermarks and social DRM.

When did you guys seriously start to focus on digital watermarks as a viable business model?

Since 1993, Icontact develops bespoke software solutions for the book and library industry in The Netherlands and Belgium.

The very first start with digital watermarks was in 2006, when Icontact developed a custom digital distribution and fulfilment platform for audio books to be used by a Dutch audio book web shop and distributor.

The music industry was still using DRM at that time, and we all knew the problems with DRM. So to be customer friendly we decided that the shop needed to deliver MP3 audio files instead of one (or more) platform specific audio formats with DRM. As you know, MP3 cannot be copy protected and doesn’t support DRM. Instead, we developed a simple but effective way to personalize each MP3 file with info about the transaction, the name of the end user and the web shop that sold the audio book. This enabled us to locate the end user when an audio book is found on an illegal site or CD-ROM. The end users knew it worked like this and had no problem with it, so it worked like a reasonable deterrent.

We used all available tricks to add extra data in the mp3 file while keeping it compatible with the standard. Some data was visible (when you checked the file properties), but most were invisible to the end user. All personalisation took place dynamically after a valid order was registered. All mp3 files where then stored in a single ZIP container and a download link to this ZIP was presented to the end user. So essentially, every end user received a unique file with a personalized audio book. We registered the brand name BooXtream for this concept and technology.

After a couple of years, only very few of these audio books were found ‘in the wild’. 99.9% of all pirated content was ripped from CD’s. We presented this experience on a national eBook conference in 2010. After our keynote “Lessons learned with Social DRM”, several publishers not only liked the idea, they also asked us if we could do the same with eBooks instead of audio books.

At that time there were only a few ‘serious’ eBook shops in The Netherlands, but we saw the potential. We were excited by the possibilities and opportunities of the market. We decided to create an SDK to watermark ePub eBooks, which evolved into the web service as we are now offering. We built BooXtream for eBooks based on the idea (concept) of adding as much ‘invisible’ data as possible to the files in an ePub, tightly integrated with a digital distribution and fulfillment platform, an easy to integrate web service (RESTful) and an attractive and simple price model (no upfront costs, only pay by use).

BooXtream for eBooks 1.0 was released in fall 2010 and was offered as a web service based standard solution. (FYI: Icontact still develops custom software solutions. The BooXtream brand and product was bootstrapped, like an internally funded start-up.) Our launching customer was a small forward looking publisher in the Netherlands, but eBook watermarking really took off when UK based Pottermore decided to use it for the Harry Potter eBooks in 2012. This really created headlines all over the industry.

How does the essence of your technology work?

The essence is that we add ‘hidden’ data to all files in an ePub eBook file while keeping the eBook 100% valid, using several different proprietary algorithms. Our technology offers two basic features: adding invisible watermarks and adding visible extra’s like a personalized ex libris page, a personalized footer text at the end of every chapter or a personalized chapter at the end of the eBook. The invisible part is essentially a transactional watermark, creating unique files for every eBook and every end user..

Everything is configurable by our customers. BooXtream operates in real time, on transaction level, so our technology has to be integrated at the point of sale (where the actual distribution to the end user takes place).

There is no need to update any ‘client software’ when we update and improve our algorithms (as with Adobe DRM), which is possible because the eBooks are 100% valid and ePub compliant. In a technical sense, they are DRM free so they can be read by every e-reader and e-reading device out there.

One of the essential characteristics of eBooks with watermarks is that there is no need to remove watermarks to make a backup, read it on multiple devices or share it with someone you trust (casual sharing). This isn’t the case with DRM, which is one of the reasons a lot of people that have no intention to pirate or hack do use DRM removal tools.

Who would you say are your largest clients right now?

Our technology is used worldwide by 2 of the Big 5 publishers, some very large independent D2C publishers, several hundreds of medium sized publishers selling D2C, quite a few independent eBook web shops and also numerous web shops of smaller publishers, self publishing authors and systems integration.

Some publishers like to keep their name under the radar, but to name a few: Verso Books (US, UK), Cappelen Damm (largest publisher in Norway), Elly’s Choice (largest eBook subscription service in The Netherlands), Firsty Group (large solutions provider for the publishing industry in the UK), Profile Books (UK); web shops from Finland to Spain and from Peru to Colombia.

I saw you guys are a member of the IDPF, we sponsor many of their events, such as the main conference at Book Expo America.  How has being a  member affected your business?

We are big fan of Bill McCoy. He is doing a marvelous job with IDPF, creating and maintaining the ePub standards, Readium, EduPub and basically uniting the eBook publishing world. I think it was Bill who coined the term ‘Social DRM’ which we adopted for our original BooXtream tagline. Being a member gives us insight in the working groups and future developments, but it also helps us to be found by potential customers.

What are the main benefits as you see it, between watermarks and ADOBE DRM.

The only benefit of Adobe DRM is that it can be used for library lending purposes. You cannot use watermarking for this, as watermarking is not able to disable an eBook after a certain amount of time. The few libraries that are using watermarking do this as a ‘second line of defense in a closed ecosystems with apps.

There are quite a few benefits of watermarking:

With watermarked eBooks there is no need to use a specific (proprietary) e-reading client. Watermarked eBooks can be read on any device, with any software, as long as they are ePub compatible. This is a huge advantage, because it’s both user friendly and support desk friendly.

An eBook with watermarks can be read on different devices simultaneously. There is no need to remove DRM to do this. As an aside, there are plenty of DRM removal tools out there, but quite a few are Trojans or might contain a virus. The computer illiterate end user is far better off when he doesn’t need these tools, apart from the question if it’s legal or not to use them.

An eBook with watermarks can be backed-up using standard backup software. Again, there is no need to remove DRM to do this. This is very important because eBooks with DRM might get inaccessible when the web shop is getting out of business. This happened more than once.

Our watermarking tools also offers visible personalisation, which creates new business possibilities and makes the eBook really personal. It is being used to personalize review copies, it is used to personalize course guides and business reports (even those that are distributed for free). One of our customers allow their end users to customer the ex libris in their own eBooks, like the personal stamp from earlier times. Others insert personalized messages or dynamically add some banner links in the eBook.

 If people started to pirate books via BooXtream, what do you guys do about it, if anything?

Tracking and tracing illegal uploads is not our primary business. Sometimes pirated eBooks are discovered by our customers (publishers) when they search for their own titles. Part of our standard service is to help them decode the watermarks (if any, because the bulk of all pirated books are titles with DRM removed, not watermarked titles), so they can decide what to do. For larger-scale and automated discovery and enforcement we offer tools to anti-piracy third parties like MarkMonitor and Muso that are specialised in tracing copyright infringements, crawling the web, sending notice-and-take-down letters etc. Our tools enable them to look for the hidden watermarks within eBooks, decode them and take appropriate measures. They can use these tools as part of our and their arrangement with a publisher.

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Sony is developing a new form of digital rights management to combat Adobes stranglehold on the eBook market. The new encryption system will have an SDK that can be integrated into any existing e-reader or mobile app. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this new security system is a viable platform in which eBooks can be resold.

Adobe Digital Editions is the current industry standard when it comes to eBooks having a layer of security to curb piracy. If you purchase a digital title from one store and want to load it onto your favorite e-reader or tablet you have to download and install the ADE Software, make an account and enter your credit card details. This software is also required for people who borrow eBooks from the library and aren’t using an official app from 3M, Baker & Taylor or Overdrive.

The new Sony encryption system has been a product of three years of development at Sony DADC. This is a Sony subsidiary that primarily focuses on the development of storage media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays), but in addition offers Digital Rights Management Services. 

Sony plans on making their new eBook encryption system very appealing towards publishers and e-reader manufactures. The developed a brand new SDK that will play nice with any 3rd party reading app on Android, iOS or Windows. It also can integrated directly into any e-reader on the market. The key selling points of the Sony DRM are; to make eBook rentals viable, to lend an eBook to a friend easier, to define a clear path of ownership, better pay per chapter (metered) support and the ability to resell a book.

The big problem in the eBook industry right now is the lack of clear ownership. When you click the BUY button on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, or Google you are simply licensing the book and it is never truly yours. Sony wants to change this and define a clear path of ownership, this will allow people to sell a used eBook and it will actually physically disappear from the original owners account.

Sony plans on shopping their new DRM system in the spring of 2015 and will likely be conducting private meetings at notable events like the London Book Fair, Book Expo America and IDPF gatherings. I have heard from a reputable source that Sony already has six publishers locked up and will be leveraging those relationship in order to establish new ones.

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Reading

There is no denying that there are more smartphones in the world than tablets and dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle. It is also important to note that the overall reading population in the US is massive. The books market, in terms of total books sold worldwide, is bigger than both movies and music. In a recent interview with Willem Van Lancker, the creative co-founder of eBook subscription service Oyster he said that future of books is not your tablet or e-reader, but your smartphone. This is quite the bombshell, but is it due to availability bias?

Availability bias is a human cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the probability of events associated with memorable or vivid occurrences. Because memorable events are further magnified by coverage in the media, the bias is compounded on the societal level. You only have to look at the blitz media coverage of any phone issued by Apple to see the societal impact and lifestyle psychology.Very rarely do you see the same type of effect on a new e-reader or tablet.

There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2014, according to estimates The International Telecommunication Union. This is equivalent to 95.5% of the world population. Tablet sales so far in 2014 have only accounted for 270.7 million units.

Every major report by statistical organizations all proclaim that people are reading more on their smartphones than any other device. This is primarily due to it always being in our pocket and easily accessible. The devices also are heavily subsidized with phone carriers often giving you free upgrades every few years, whereas e-readers and tablets do not enjoy the same type of upgrade cycle, you basically have to pay full price.

Some people see phones as gateways to dedicated e-readers and tablets. Once you become immersed and maintain a habit of reading on a daily basis, making the switch to an e-reader or tablet makes you a more valuable consumer that is more likely to spend more money on eBooks.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, and Scribd all report that its their Android and iOS apps that get the most traction and they are all primarily optimized for smartphones. These companies realize that that is that their audience are using the most to buy and read digital books or fan-fiction.

What device is everyone using to read on a daily basis? Is it the quintessential smartphone? Are you using it primarily because its the one device always with you? Is there something to the availability bias argument? Weigh in on the comment section below.

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A few months ago Amazon unveiled their first Netflix for eBooks service, Kindle Unlimited. For a low monthly fee you get access to over 700,000 titles, mostly from indie authors. So far, not a single major publisher has committed themselves to the platform, which makes finding quality content fairly difficult.  Today, Amazon has announced that their woeful subscription platform is now available in Italy and Spain.

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service currently available to customers in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Spain, and Germany. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee. Any customer can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. They don’t need to be Amazon Prime members, they simply need to pay the subscription fee.

Amazon has some excellent programs, but Unlimited is not one of them. I would look at Scribd or Oyster as alternatives because their business model is more solid and they have plenty of quality eBooks.

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Education Tablets

Major Publishers and Bookstores are staring to forgo Adobe DRM and instead embrace Digital Watermarking technology. They are doing this because it is easier for the customer to be able to load the eBooks they purchase onto their e-Reader, smartphone or tablet. Right now Watermarking is big in Europe and being the de’facto standard in the publishing arena, but now North Americans are starting to realize the potential.

A watermark or social DRM is imperceptible to the average book reader because the underlying technology is invisible to the naked eye. The way it handles data can take two distinctive forms: personal information about the user who purchased the eBook (such as an email address) or an ID number that the distributor can use to look up the user or transaction in a database and is otherwise meaningless.

There are a few major players in the Watermarking arena that have gained the most traction from publishers and have been adopted by some fairly big companies. The Dutch firm Booxtream has been providing social DRM since 2011 to its roster of Dutch bookstores and has recently spread their wings globally.  One of their biggest clients is Pottermore. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter focused online community and ebookstore. They have been using the technology since the service first launched in 2012.

HarperColllins and ebook distributor LibreDigital decided to embrace a competitor; Guardian Watermarking for Publishing from Digimarc. It is a fairly new anti-piracy technology that not only embeds an invisible watermark into eBooks, but it also crawls the web 24×7 searching for watermarked content. When a watermark is detected, Digimarc provides the unique identifier to the publisher to match against its own transaction records. Digimarc Guardian Watermarks do not contain any personal or user information; the Digimarc Watermarks contain only anonymous digital IDs.

One of the ways publishers safeguard their watermarking technology is to turn towards companies that specialize in anti-piracy measures.  eBoekhuis is based in the Netherlands and has developed their own system of watermarking. Recently they signed an agreement with fellow countrymen BRIEN, to protect their assets from file sharing and Torrent websites. Any bookstore that sells eBooks with their proprietary system is mandated to share previously-private customer data directly with copyright holders and BREIN.  This basically gives BREIN a ton of power to be able to go directly after eBook pirates.  This sounds valid, I realize you have to protect your clients from unlawful activity, but things took a very dark twist. “We got a new contract that states that we must directly give information about the buyer if some anti-piracy agency (BREIN) finds an ebook file online,” said Kurt Roeckx, who operates the Dutch ebook store E-webshops. “We must keep the information about the buyer for minimum of 2 years and maximum of 5 years. And if we don’t sign the contract we won’t be allowed to sell e-books with watermark anymore.”

Some companies actually take watermarking technology too far and are making their readers feel like criminals. Verso Books recently introduced their bookstore in March 2014 and when customers buy a book their name and email address are blasted on the cover art. Not only that but the info is also on the title page, copyright page, TOC, bibliography, forward, and e very second page of the eBook. One user stated “Personally, I felt like I was constantly being sent a stalker’s note saying, “I know where you live.” It put me off reading the books entirely.”

Watermarking’s greatest shortcoming (from a publisher’s perspective; a boon for the reader) is that it does nothing to protect against small-time file-sharing among friends. Though book lending is a staple of the traditional reading experience, in the digital sphere, it terrifies publishers. Ursula Mackenzie, Little, Brown and Company chief executive and president of the Publishers Association recently stated: “We are fully aware that DRM does not inhibit determined pirates or even those who are sufficiently sophisticated to download DRM removal software. The central point is that we are in favor of DRM because it inhibits file-sharing between the mainstream readers who are so valuable to us and our authors.”

Watermarking or social DRM is very popular in Europe, with most publishers and digital bookstores choosing this technology. Mainstream companies such as DriveThru, Tor, Baen and bokus all sell their content in this fashion. In the Netherlands 65% of all publishers have adopted it and Digimark concluded Fifty-five magazine titles were read, contributing to a 300% increase in sales in 2013.

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Parable Books has just closed their online digital bookstore and will no longer be selling eBooks. The Christian company has declared that their users had three days to backup their past purchases, so they can continue to read them on other devices, if you missed the October 31st cutoff, you are out of luck.

Parable is a brick and motor chain of Christian Book Stores and they experimented with eBooks two years ago. If a customer wanted to support their nearest location, they could buy eBooks and by using a special referral  code, the store would get a small commission.

If you are still looking for religious eBooks there are plenty of stores that still sell them Christianbook is one of the largest one that I know of and they are still in business. Lifeway sells ebooks and is a relatively big chain (and is the retail arm of B&H Publishing), but the digital content only works with their own apps. Also, a bunch of Christian publishers sell their own eBooks directly, though (Crossway, Ignatius Press, New Leaf Publishing.

The closure of Parable really drives home the fact that there is no clear path of ownership when you purchase eBooks. You are merely paying for a limited license that  could be suspended at any time. This is one of the pitfalls of purchasing eBooks, they can disappear at a moments notice.

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Books Update - Skim Mode

Many of the top e-reader apps out there handle reading eBook really well. The vast majority of people tend to read fiction titles and the Amazon, Nook and Kobo apps are all optimized for this. What about non-fiction, such as cookbooks, textbooks or research papers? Google has just updated their Play Books app to handle them better than ever.

“Skim” mode allows you to zoom between pages in an endless stream rather than forcing you to flip through page by page.

“Quick Bookmarks” lets you set multiple saved spots in the book and quickly jump back and forth between them — perfect for when you’re required to refer to some reference table 200 pages away from what you’re trying to read.

You can now view all of your notes and highlights on one page and quickly jump to the correlating passages. The study benefits there are pretty obvious.

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The Kindle Voyage is the latest generation flagship e-reader from Amazon. Many people find themselves exclusively relying on the online bookstore and are aware they can load in their own PDF files or eBooks from the internet. Today, you will learn how to load in your own books.

First of all, Amazon Kindle e-readers read AZW and MOBI as a primary format that are easily found online. Many European bookstores actually sell eBooks in MOBI format and embed them with digital watermarks to curb piracy. There are also many bookstores and websites all over the internet that sell or allow people to download them. Sure you can buy or download, but whats the step steps?

Amazon has feature many people are unaware of. It allows you to send attachments via Email to your Amazon Kindle. If you have have registered an Amazon account and attached your Kindle to do, during the setup, you are half-way done. You need to visit your Account Management Page and then visit Settings. Near the bottom you will see a few email address and the associated devices. It should give your first name and a few random numbers, mine is michael_95121@kindle.com. You can then enter that email has the destination email address and attach any MOBI books you have downloaded from the internet and in a few minutes they will be on your Kindle Basic!

I really like a program called CALIBRE. It does some powerful stuff, like allowing you to add coverart to an eBook you have downloaded that may not have one, or to change the authors name. The feature I dig the most is being able to convert eBooks from one format to another. EPUB is one of the most common book formats out there, and is 100% incompatible with the Kindle. In the video below, I will show you how to convert an EPUB book to a MOBI one and also how to use this program on a very general level.

Finally, many people simply copy books to their Kindle Documents directory via a file manager or Windows Explorer. You can get a sense of the internal directory structure of your e-Reader and where you should be copying books manually.


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ibooks

Apple has dispatched an email to authors who publish through iBooks, informing them on a number of new policy changes. The first, is to decrease the amount of time that the editorial staff approves for new titles for inclusion into the Apple Bookstore, it went from ten days to one business change. The second should really help authors in giving out  free copies of their digital book for review, with 250 promo codes.

Apple has revised the iBooks experience with the advent of iOS 8 and the new line of iPhone 6 smartphones. It is far easier to purchase and discover new content with the UI changes on the bottom of the screen. In the past, the store itself, was buried in sub-menus at the top of the screen, now it is more intuitive.

One of the big new initiatives on the iBooks app is the curation  and editorial content. There is now more seasonal and topical lists that abide by cool themes. Oh, and one of the biggest cleanups was removing Breakout Books, which was sourced by Smashwords. Indie authors have been booted off from the platform, in order to help readers find more quality content. In the future, you will soon be able to get book recommendations before and after purchases with technology leveraged by Booklamp, a company Apple bought a few months ago.

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The cost of eBooks are poised to dramatically increase at the beginning of the new year, due to changes in VAT. Readers will end up having to pay anywhere from 17% to 25% more on each title, depending on the country they live in.

The European Commission recently unveiled a new ruling where member states will be taxed in the European member state in which the consumer is located, as opposed to the country from which the product is sold. Starting in January 2015 the new tax rates will be in effect for eBooks.

The new VAT laws will prevent Amazon, Nook and Kobo from getting away with charging a paltry 3% tax on eBooks, magazines, graphic novels and newspapers sold to European countries, because their headquarters are in Luxembourg. In a few months, UK customers will have to pay the 20% VAT on eBooks from Amazon, instead of the 3%. This will increase eBooks accross the board by 17%.

The Luxembourg government stands to lose around €800 million a year from the ruling, while the UK and Germany stand to gain around €350 million each by the higher VAT rates.

Patrons of Amazon and Barnes and Noble in Europe are obviously going to be disgruntled that they will be paying more money for books, but the evening out of the VAT will allow Waterstones, Thalia, Txtr, Ciando, and Virtualo to compete better on price and hopefully gain more traction in the industry going forward.

In the United Kingdom Amazon accounts for 75% of all eBook sales. They have been able to capture the vast majority of readers due to the low prices and solid discovery experience. Will customers remain loyal if the prices increase dramatically?

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Kindle Scout introductory image Amazon

Amazon has just taken the beta sticker off their new author and reading community, Kindle Scout. The essence of this program is to give authors a chance to pitch their upcoming books to the public and readers cast their vote on what ones get published.

Amazon is throwing their marketing and financial efforts behind authors to publish their next book exclusively through them. They are giving an advance of $1,500 and a 50% eBook royalty rate to authors who successfully woo the crowd to get behind their next title. The book will then get hyped with Amazon, and likely the books in the early stages of the Scout lifetime will get a ton of media attention.

“We’re always looking for new ways to add meaningful connections between readers and authors,” said Dina Hilal, General Manager of Kindle Scout. “We’ve been delighted by the submissions so far and are excited to give readers a say in which books they want to read. We also hope they’ll have a lot of fun getting to know authors and their work.”

I think Scout is a really great idea and will assist in a huge problem in the publishing world, the dirge of indie author titles. Every week, thousands of horrendous books are released that pollute the digital ecosystem and hinder the eBook discovery process. In all honesty, indie authors are destroying literature as we know it. Scout attempts to vet out the wheat from the chafe, and hopefully we will only hear about the best of the best and not indie generic title number 19281210912.

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According to a new report from the United Kingdom, 50% of readers tend to use their mobile phones books. This research is quite telling because e-reader and tablet sales are quite robust and have a high rate of availability in the retail sector.

Overall, 50% of UK mobile reading consumers used the Amazon Kindle app to read on their mobiles, followed by Apple iBooks with 31%. Reading platforms Kobo and Nook are in third and fourth places with 9% and 6% respectively. Among younger readers, iBooks is closing ground on Kindle. The study found that 41% of 18 – 24 year olds who use their mobile to read are using Kindle, versus 39% who are now using iBooks.

So how many people are actually reading eBooks on their mobile phones, outside of this report?  Deloitte UK’s estimate that there are currently 35 million smartphone users in the UK. If we assume that 44% of these smartphone owners read just one eBook on their phone, that’s equivalent to 15,400,000. Then, if Nielsen is correct when it says that 323 million books (print and digital) were sold in the UK in 2013, that means 4.7% of the total UK book market’s total output was read on a smartphone.

Despite the mobile phone’s overall growth in appeal and popularity as a reading device, the survey discovered that readers, particularly those in the UK, tend to read on their handsets fairly infrequently and in much shorter bursts, compared to the amount of time they would spend reading printed books or eBooks on tablets and e-readers.

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Over the course of the last decade, eBooks have become second nature to savvy readers. Not only can you purchase them in your pajamas, but they are more economical viable than new releases that come out only in hardcover.

One of the big questions that readers always ask, is what are the direct benefits of reading digitally? Is there a big difference between reading in print and an eBook? Today, we look the big reasons why buying an eBook makes a ton of sense.

Table of Contents – One of the big benefits with an eBook is a clickable TOC. It makes it really easy when reading an academic or textbook to be able to quickly go to the exact page that you want, with minimal fuss.

Cloud Syncing – If you have a smartphone, tablet or e-reader in the household and often read the same book on many different devices, cloud syncing makes things really easy. Amazon and other vendors have the ability to monitor the last page read. This insures that you will pick up exactly where you left off on a book you were reading when you were going to sleep on your e-reader and then pick up where you left off on the subway with your smartphone.

Highlights and Annotations - Writing your own notes or making highlights is ridiculously simple with an e-reader or e-reading app. Anything you do with an eBook is also synced to the cloud, insuring any change will follow you, no matter what device you are on. This is especially beneficial with digital textbooks that you rent for a few weeks or a semester. The title may not be in your library anymore, after the loan period is up, but any note you make are yours to keep and is stored perpetually in the cloud.

Some companies have really taken the note taking features on hardware to new and exciting levels. The Sony Digital Paper is a 13.3 inch reader, that is billed as a replacement for read paper. Instead of exclusively typing on touchscreen keyboard, like most smartphone, you use the pen to quickly draw your notes out save them as an independent file. The Galaxy Note line of phones is also super solid for note taking because of the accompanied Stylus.

Dictionaries and Translations – When reading fiction or non-fiction title, inevitability you will be unsure on the exact meaning of a word. It might be something you never heard before, or may use idioms from another country. Many of the top e-readers by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo all have dictionaries pre-loaded on their devices, with the options to download additional ones, for free. If you buy an English Kindle, but want to load in a German dictionary, no problem. I also really like some of the translation software on the new Kindle Voyage, you can click on a word or body of text and translate it from the language its in, to over 15 ones. Oh, you can also get diverted to Wikipedia and Google to look up a specific word too!

Fonts - If you have a vision deficiency and love to read, going to your bookstores large print section used to be your only option. These large font titles are really expensive too, often costing two or three times that of a paperback and they are normally just available in hardcover. The benefits of eBooks is being able to adjust the font on a title to your own personal preference. If you don’t like the default font eBook comes with, you can switch that too. Most e-readers and e-reading apps often have six fonts you can switch to, but Kobo goes one step further by allowing users to load in any font they want, allowing for more flexibily and control.

You can Loan an eBook out, and always get it back – I have six big book shelves full of books, but used to have more. I have loaned a ton of books over the years to friends who really dug what I was reading or wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I am also not ashamed to say, there were times I gave an awesome book to a girl I was sweet on, only to never get them back. Amazon and Barnes and Noble developed eBook lending programs that allow you to loan an eBook to a friend, one time, for up to two weeks. The only problem, is that your friend, also needs the same e-reader as you do. Many European companies sell digital books with watermarks, which makes it infinity easier to give out a copy of your book, while still preserving ownership of the original.

Many people in their social circle of friends are the only one with an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook. This makes loaning out titles impossible and borrowing books super hard. A number of eBook loaning services have been developed over the years that connect readers with each other, who don’t know one another in real life. Lendle and eBook Fling are the two most popular.

Buy eBooks in your Pajamas – The one aspect of eBooks that I really like is being able to buy a title at any time. There has been many cases where I complete an amazing book and want to see what else the author has written. In many cases at the end of the book, you can click on a series of links to bring you to whatever online bookstore the author recommends to find additional titles. If the book you just read was apart of a series, you can immediately buy the next one.

eBook pre-orders are proving to be fairly popular on iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo or Google. You can have a book immediately sent to your device at midnight, on the day of the release. Its like when new movies come out, and you can see it hours in advance if you checkout the midnight showing, its the exact same thing with digital books.

Fan fiction – If you grew up loving My Little Pony, GI.Joe, Harry Potter or boy bands, there is fan-fiction for that. Millions of stories are available to read for free, on WattPad, Kindle Worlds or fanfiction.net. Some fanfic authors have transcended their humble beginnings, such as Anna Todd and landed publishing and movie deals. incidentally, her book about a One Direction signer has had billions of reads.

Fan Fiction normally flies under the radar in the standard eBook conversation, but some of the websites like WattPad do gangbuster business. Readers spend two billion hours a day reading free books on their site and social media elements allow authors to converse directly with their fans to help them become better writers. Fans will frequently offer advice on serialized novels, on what they want to see, or to help in the direction of the plot. Its interactive, which is why so many people love it.

Beyond the Book/X-Ray – If you are like me, sometimes I find myself juggling many books at once. I may begin a book and something I have been waiting for finally comes out, and I instantly switch and devour it. When I come back to the original book I started, sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes names of minor characters can blur together, and I think “how was he again, whats going on?”

To solve this situation Amazon developed X-Ray, which gives you a comprehensive list of all the major and minor characters in any given book. It also tells you about the locations, objects and how many times they are referrences throughout the book. No longer will readers be confused on a book they are reading, because they can easily access a small biography.

eBooks have less of a carbon footprint – There are higher environmental costs involved in manufacturing an e-reader unit, compared to a unit of paper, and there are also on-going operational effects. However, one e-reader can hold any number of eBooks, newspapers and magazines — which means that e-reader users purchase fewer printed publications. Producing a Kindle creates the same CO2 as 30 books. So you need to read that number or more to offset the carbon emissions it takes to make it.

eBooks Allow you to be Anonymous – Our taste in books no longer have to be a guilty pleasure. The entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon showed us that many women were reading the eBook on their smartphone, tablet or e-reader on public transit and they weren’t advertising what they were reading like they would a print book. The social stigma of reading trashy romance, fantasy or erotica have been firmly removed with the advent of portable e-readers. Not advertising what you are reading may remove some of the public transportation flirting, but it allows you to immerse yourself in a book you love, without attracting too much attention.

eBooks are Cheaper – Many readers cite the price of eBooks as one of the primarily aspects of why they choose to read digitally. A new report by Books and e-Books UK 2014 is trying to quantify the parallel between cheaper books and reading more.  Their data suggests 26% of consumers who have bought an eBook in the last year are reading more than they used to, because eBooks cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.

You don’t need reports to say that eBooks cost less than print. When a new book comes out, it is normally exclusively in a hardcover. The average cost is around $29.99, sometimes more, depending on the title and publisher. When it comes to eBooks, new titles are anywhere from $9.99 to $12.99, in rare cases they go all the way to $18.00.

When people ask me what I do for a living, inevitably they ask me about the benefits of an e-reader or eBooks in general. I always cite, if you love to read, you can read more books, while spending less.

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