Self-publishing eBooks
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Ebooks can be defined as any electronic document designed to be the digital equivalent of a printed book. There is no page number requirement because the number of pages does not affect the set up or publishing costs or binding limitations. Therefore, many eBooks are quite short.

The plethora of file formats can be intimidating. I believe the popularity of electronic texts will explode as a result of the Apple iPhone. The iPhone has a great operating system which is ideal for reading. This will cause a shake out of the competing formats. The big winner will be the file format that works best with the iPhone and similar gadgets.

Actually there will be more than one winner because of the different features required for different presentations. For example, if the author’s material was such that it required every reader to see the exact same page, he would need a format such as Adobe’s PDF that freezes the page so that every one sees the same material regardless of the platform being used. If the Author wants to format his eBook for the huge and ever growing iPhone audience, the he would need a format that would allow the text to flow into any size window.

Let’s look at the more popular formats. Amazon’s Kindle uses a proprietary format. Amazon is obviously a strong contender with over 300,000 books to choose from, and the number is growing every day. Their royalty payments (35%) are relatively low for an eBook; however, this is the place to be. I have a kindle version of my book, The Misadventures of Russell Quigley. I like the Kindle process because it is free and easy.

Sony has a new eReader that uses the ePub format. EPub is an open format that I believe will be very popular.

The Mobipocket format has been around for quite some time and runs on almost anything. It was purchased by Amazon in 2005. In spite of this, it is not overly popular.

ePub is backed by a consortium of publishers and programmers. It is an effort to establish an open eBook standard. The IDPF, a standards and trade organization, is pushing for the ePub format to become if not the industry standard, then at least a distribution standard. ePub is built on XML and should easily convert to other formats.

Regardless of which formats win out, eBooks are on the rise. IDPF reports that revenue is up 154.85% for the year. That figure doesn’t count small publishers or eBooks downloaded directly from websites.

Adobe's PDF will be here for a long time. It is the preferred format for downloading from a website. Its popularity is assured because it required by most POD printers. Adobe's free Reader is available on most computers. It is my personal favorite because I do most of my ebook reading on the big screen.

Traditional publishers are still afraid to put their books on line. They saw what happened to the music industry; they are afraid of piracy. However, the traditional paradigm is not working very well. They will switch to Print on Demand and eBook publishing. Meanwhile, the fewer books traditional publishers release in eBook form, the less competition your books will have.

An eBook should be on your “To Do” list.

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