I just finally bought my first eBook and subsequently an eReader (though surprisingly not in that order) around a month ago, and while I doubt this will ever fully replace physical books and bookshelves for myself at least, it does seem rather fitting to be reading science fiction on a device instead of paper.
As far as most of us are concerned, eBooks are the first new thing to happen in publishing since we switched from unrolling scrolls to turning pages (imagine the consternation that caused!)
While it may seem like all eBooks are the same on the consumer end, there are three main types of eBook files as well as more select versions for different uses and with different eBook vendors. In all honesty, no one even fully agrees on how to spell eBook (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo all spell it eBook while the Chicago Manual of style says it should be e-book).
Of the different eBook types, there are a few PDF types (which most people should recognize), ePub (the industry standard), and mobi (what Amazon prefers). Needless to say, mobi ends up being the most prevalent on the consumer end since Amazon has the largest share of the eBook market (65% in the US alone).
Our dream at MennoMedia is to eventually make all of the different types of eBooks available from our own webstore so consumers can purchase an eBook once and use it across multiple devices instead of needing to purchase it once for your eReader, once for your smartphone, and another time for your computer when you forgot the other two at home.
The way many eBook retailers (Amazon for instance) currently work is that they don’t technically sell you a copy of the book. Despite all appearances, they sell you the right to access a book, and can and sometimes have withdrawn titles entirely. While it may cost a tad more from us, we hope to sell you the actual files so you can actually own the book just like every time you’ve ever picked up a book in a store.
While some publishers worry about people illegally downloading their titles if given access to the files, we are inclined to think otherwise. Given affordable prices and easy access to our books, we trust our eReaders (referring to the people this time) to purchase our titles rather than illegally download them (though the thought of Martyrs Mirror becoming a popular title to illegally download is rather entertaining).
At the moment, we are still working out the logistics of making books available directly from us so we don’t find ourselves tied up trying to walk well-meaning purchasers through all the steps of getting them onto an e-reader or other devices (it becomes much more difficult to put an eBook on your eReader when you don’t purchase it directly from Amazon, especially for the less tech-savvy).
In the meantime, if you are looking for an ironic way to spend your time some weekend, nothing quite beats the novelty of reading Martyrs Mirror (first published in 1660) as a computer file.
MennoMedia’s eBook guy