What is an ebook?
A brief history
An e-book is, quite simply, a digital version of a book. Ebooks are sometimes wrongly conflated with ereaders, which are the modern devices used to store and read e-books. While they are of course two closely related technologies, the e-book predates the ereader by up to three decades, depending on who you ask. However, it was the introduction of the e-reader in the 90s that made ebooks portable enough to compete with traditional print books. In addition, the invention of digital paper and ink allowed for a reading experience that was very similar to what people were used to with print books, making it far easier to read ebooks in direct sunlight, for instance. This development made e-books an even more viable alternative.
The ebook market really started ballooning in 2007 however, with the launch of the Amazon Kindle – an ereader with direct access to Amazon’s vast inventory of ebooks. This allowed people to browse, purchase, download, and read books instantaneously, without having to leave their homes. Needless to say, this was an attractive prospect to many people.
Since the launch of the Kindle, ebook sales have been on the rise continuously. In the UK, ebook sales rose by 5% in 2018, and they now make up around 30% of the British book market.
While their popularity can be partly explained by the convenience they offer readers (as outlined above), ebooks also tend to be more attractively priced than their print counterparts, which is obviously interesting to prospective readers. This is due to the fact that there are no production or shipping costs involved when publishing ebooks. This has the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly due to the paper and energy being saved. So not only are ebooks easier to buy and read, they’re often cheaper too – both for people and the environment.
Of course, if you’ve published an ebook, the cheaper sales price means you’ll be making less money per ebook than you would be selling print books. Nevertheless, ebooks will give you a higher percentage of the profit per sold copy, as it has to be split fewer ways. Furthermore, ebooks have the advantage of (potentially) global accessibility and convenience, which could help you gain more readers than you otherwise would have. At the end of the day, the choice between ebooks and print books may well involve some compromise – but then again, there’s nothing stopping you from publishing in both formats, if you’re so inclined.
If you’re not sure what price to set for your ebook, you might want to consult our blog article on how to price your book.
Formatting an eBook
At Bookmundo, there are two ways you can format your ebook. The first is to simply write your manuscript in the form of a Word document, and upload this to our platform. We will then convert your Word document to an EPUB file. EPUB is the most widely used format for ebooks and will work like a charm on any e-reader. If you choose this option, make sure to check the converted file to make sure that everything looks right. If something has gone wrong in the conversion process, you can either try to fix it in the original Word document or edit the EPUB file directly.
The second option is simply to make your manuscript an EPUB and upload that. You can learn everything you need to know about creating and editing EPUBs by consulting our guide on the topic.
Why can’t I upload my ebook manuscript as a PDF?
The reason for this is that if you publish an ebook as a PDF, it won’t be able to take advantage of the various display customisation options of e-readers, which may result in the book being difficult to read. For example, most e-readers allow the user to change the font size and typeface of books, among other things. PDFs make this impossible. While being pleasant enough to read on computer screens, the fixed layout means that on a smaller device, people will have to zoom in and scroll back and forth to read the text. If you’ve ever had to read a long PDF document on your phone, you can imagine how frustrating it would be to read a whole book while constantly zooming in and out.
To avoid this, it’s best to publish e-books in a file format designed especially for them, such as EPUB. These formats allow readers to take advantage of the aforementioned e-reader features when reading your e-book, i.e. adjusting font types, sizes, and other layout options. This also means that an e-book using one of these file formats won’t have static page numbers.
Making an eBook
Of course, the catch is that making an ebook as an EPUB, MOBI, or IBA file isn’t quite as easy as simply converting a Word document to a PDF. If you want to do this, you’re going to have to get a bit more technical. Luckily, there are several (free) programs out there that can help you through the process. A good place to start is our help article on formatting an ebook manuscript in Word, where we’ve compiled a few links to resources that you’ll need.
Selling an eBook
If you create an ebook with us, you can make it available via several certified online sales channels. In addition, ebooks are ideal for selling directly via your own website or social media channels. This latter method usually means you’ll reach fewer people, but will also net you much higher margins, as you won’t have to share the profit with a retailer.
Using our platform, you can arrange for your book to be sold with a single click. You choose exactly which stores you want to sell your book in, and can monitor the sales statistics directly in your account. This way, you can see exactly where your book is selling well, (and where it isn’t) allowing you to adapt your sales and marketing strategies accordingly.
If you have an author website (if you don’t, you should make one!) that you want to sell your book on, we can also offer free sales widgets to help you with that. Our widgets are fully customizable, so they can blend seamlessly into your website. You can learn more about how to create a widget on our sales page. Once installed, the people who click on the widget will automatically be sent to your book’s page in the Mybsetseller store, where they can purchase it with a click. Naturally, these purchases will also show up in your sales statistics.
Digital Rights Management for eBooks
Since ebooks are digital files, it is a simple matter to copy and share them with other people. While ebook piracy is nowhere near as widespread as that of other digital media, it’s always good to take some precautions. Several tools and methods have been developed to discourage the illegal copying of e-books, the two most popular of which are:
- Digital Watermark: The most widely used anti-piracy method for e-books. When someone buys a copy of your e-book, information about the buyer is integrated directly into the code of the e-book. This makes it possible to track a pirated book back to its original owner, after which appropriate action can be taken. As such, this is more of a social deterrent than a technical one.
- Adobe Digital Rights Management: This DRM method requires the buyer of your e-book to have an Adobe ID (i.e. an account). This limits the number of devices on which the book can be read, drastically reducing the damage done by potential piracy. The downside of this method is that it doesn’t always work as intended, and has been known to cause legitimate customers issues with downloading and reading their own books. As a result, DRM usage for e-books has been in a steady decline for a while now.
So on the one hand, you have to consider to what extent you want to protect your book against piracy, but on the other hand, you also want to make it as easy as possible for paying customers to buy, download, and read your book in as places and for as long as they want. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your reader is happy with their purchase.
Why Make an eBook?
Even if your original plan was to publish a print book, it could still be interesting to branch out and create an ebook version as well. As mentioned above, the cost of making an ebook is much lower than that of a print book. This means that you can release a digital version of your print book at a lower price, which makes it an attractive alternative for many potential readers. Additionally, ebooks tend to appeal to a different target demographic than regular print books, which, combined with the lower price can broaden your customer base significantly.
When the ebook was first introduced to the book market, publishers were sceptical, and understandably so. They had been making good money for decades by selling print books and were worried that the profit margins on ebooks would be dangerously low. However, while the margins were indeed lower, they soon realized that the people buying ebooks were usually not the same people buying print books in brick-and-mortar bookshops. While they were both books in the general sense, print and ebooks turned out to be fundamentally different products with different customers.
This means that you shouldn’t think of ebooks simply as a cheaper alternative for your readers, but rather as an additional market for you to sell your book in.