Ebooks - what is an E book? How do I download an ebook? What's the future of e-books and more!

Welcome to this introduction to Ebooks - the silent revolution in information dispersal that rivals the invention of Gutenberg's printing press in the impact it is having on the World today.

If you have questions beyond this introduction, please contact the Webmaster of the ebook site which led you here.

Introduction To Ebooks - Information & Reference

  1. What is an "E" book?
  2. What kind of files are ebooks?
  3. What is Adobe PDF?
  4. How do I download a file?
  5. What about printing out the ebook?
  6. What are the main differences between an Ebook and a hard book?
  7. What is the future of my Ebook library?

What is an "E" book?

An ebook is an ELECTRONIC book - a file containing all the information that a hard book would contain.

The No.1 reason for ebook refunds is because customers think they will get a hard book in the mail.

Ebooks do NOT come in the mail.

They are directly downloaded from a secure library site to YOUR computer, and sometimes they are sent as an attachment to an email for the purposes of instant learning and information transmission.

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What kind of files are ebooks?

In the olden days, ebooks were sometimes just a plain text file. This is no longer considered industry standard and now, ebooks are carefully formatted like hard books, or they may contain special aspects you can't find in a hard book such as numerous illustrations or even video clips, animations or sound.

Sometimes, an ebook may have been produced under an ebook-maker system that produces .exe files - full little programmes that contain all the text and pictures. These .exe style eBooks can NOT play on Macintosh computers and are only usable for Windows-based PCs.

Many ebooks are also in Adobe PDF format. These can be read on Windows or Mac computers.

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What is Adobe PDF?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format and this is the most widely form of transmitting information across a wide variety of platforms available today.

There are only certain programmes that can read and open PDF files. 

The most commonly used of these is the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free of charge and available for all major operating systems including PC and MAC from http://Adobe.com.

You need an up-to-date version of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to read the vast majority of ebooks and other portable documents.

If you do not have an up-to-date version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, the files will report error messages or unsuitable programmes will attempt to open the file and result in "gobbledigook" or nonsense computer symbols.

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How do I download a document?

You can left click on the link provided, which will cause the file to be opened automatically with Adobe Acrobat Reader *if* you have it installed.

Depending on the size of the file, this can take some time as the information in the file is being sent to and received by your computer. Our trial document is short so it should be with you quickly.

When the file has been completely received, you MUST SAVE IT before starting to read it or before closing the window because you won't find the file again later - it is in a temporary cache deep inside your computer UNTIL you save it to a directory where you can find it again later.

A better way to download a document is to RIGHT click on the download link and to choose, "Save Target As" from the RIGHT click menu option. 

Save the file to your hard drive or disc and open it as normal by clicking on it.

IMPORTANT: Although you can change the document's name you must NOT change the file extension .pdf

This file extension tells a programme what kind of file it is and if you change this, the file becomes unusable.


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What about printing the ebook?

E-books are in general, not meant for printing out in their entirety but to read on screen or to print out certain sections that are needed when you are off line. 

Many people do still print them out and bind them, however. 

Most ebooks are print optimised and will print out easily; some e-books are clearly designed for viewing on your computer with many colours, pictures and other features such as in-text hyperlinks and click and point indices.

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What are the main differences between Ebooks and hard books ?

Firstly, ebooks are the first choice for *information transmission* between authors, publishers and readers across the world as there is no posting involved, no freight charges, and the reader gets the information immediately rather than having to wait for weeks.

There is also the considerable saving of no extra charges for postage and packing for both the vendors, as well as the readers.

Ebooks can be shorter than hard books. Ebooks do not have to conform to a standard width to make a respectable spine on a shelf; ebooks tend to focus on the information tightly and specifically rather than to include lots of extra words to "bulk out" the material content to "full book length" to make it acceptable for hard publishing.

With ebooks, you are paying for the information the ebook contains and NOT for anything other than that, such as impressive dust jackets or expensive colour printing or leather binding.

Ebooks are often treated much more like computer programmes by the publishers in that you can receive free upgrades of future editions as well as free replacement copies should your copy get lost or wiped by accident, for example.

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What is the future of my Ebook library?

Consider that you can store literally hundreds of books on a small disc. 

Every month that goes by, millions and millions of more ebooks are sold across the World Wide Web, mostly to people who have never bought an ebook before and because the information was simply not available anywhere else.

There are already portable ebook readers available today which can hold the contents of a vast library and fit into your jacket pocket with ease. 

As ebook technology advances and these readers are becoming ever cheaper and ever more sophisticated, you can expect within the next couple of years to be able to add all your ebooks into an electronic library that you can carry with you and search for any title, any chapter or even a specific word within seconds. 

You can have your library with you wherever you go - on a plane, in bed, on holiday and at work - perfect reference and entertainment, always at your fingertips.

This is a most extraordinary development indeed and it IS already under way.

At this time, a lot of people are still "stuck on hard books" and certain categories of hard books - antiquarian books, beautifully printed and presented books, first editions and coffee table books will of course remain with us for they are NOT only about pure information but serve other purposes besides.

So keep your ebooks in a nice folder on your computer for the time when you have a portable device of your own, so you can make use of the information and reference you are acquiring, whenever you need it.

This Introduction To Ebooks FAQ was created for The StarFields Group.
Copyright 2002  The StarFields Group.  All rights reserved.
Revised: February 27, 2002

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