e-books Part 2

The e-book market is still quite new and growing exponentially, which is one of the reasons why there are so many different formats (Epub, Kindle, PDF, LRF and PalmDoc to name a few). This is because there are specific e-readers which have their own formats, as well as options for reading on your computer or mobile phone, each requiring their own format.

Several of these devices are quite small leading a few people to speculate in the blogosphere (such as here and here) that e-book delivery should reflect this new medium. Other blogs I read have gone so far as to suggest shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and *shock* shorter books. Never mind that many of the small e-reading devices are similar sizes to… books.

Anyway. Not convinced that a story should have its length or structure dictated by the publication format, I put the question to a forum of kindle readers. Wow, what a great resource! The very suggestion that I shorten a story for e-readers whipped them into a bit of a frenzy! The message was very clear; it is the story, not the medium that should determine the length of a book, whether it be paper or electronic. I like that.

Another bonus that came from the forum was the observation that there is actually a benefit for long e-books over their paper counterparts (besides the weight factor). The person reading is not put off by how much more they have yet to go on the story because they can’t see it. I have to confess that I am facing this problem myself at the moment with a two-inch tome that I’m two millimetres into. If I was reading it on an e-reader I’d have no visual cue as to how little I had read and would be more likely to pick it up again.

Also bytes are cheaper than pages, and more environmentally friendly, so really if anything longer is better when it comes to e-books. So don’t believe the stories you might read of needing to embed hyperlinks or short structural components. All anyone wants when they pick up an e-book is the same thing as a paper book; a good read. So let’s focus on delivering that!


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