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What is an e-book?

an e-book

Books (and the way they’re read) haven’t changed much over the past few hundred years, but a transformation is now under way. E-books – downloadable reading matter - are emerging, and they can be a good way of digesting some written material.

WebWise Team | 10th October 2012

Many people say they would never read an e-book - they like the feel of a normal book and don’t see why they’d want to give it up. This is reasonable enough, but there are different reasons to read a book.

Yes, you might prefer to rather curl up with a favourite novel and flick through its pages. But what about a business book that you’re only reading to make money? Or a ‘how-to’ manual? There are many occasions when an e-book is a good alternative.

How do you read it?

E-readers (devices which enable you to read your e-book) come in different formats and the technology is still evolving, so be careful about the one you buy.

They are available from manufacturers including Sony, Amazon and Kubo. Some people also use tablet computers (such as Apple's iPad) as e-readers.

You’ll need to check that the book you want to read is compatible with the e-reader you’re going to choose, otherwise you might end up with an ebook that you can't read. There are several sites which advise on compatibility of e-book files and readers, including

Once you’ve set up your account, buying and downloading is easy. Just click and it will download your e-book and then install it on your e-reader, which you should connect to your computer with (usually) a USB cable.

Some e-readers come with their own wireless internet connection, which allows you to browse and purchase books right on the e-reader itself. You can then take the e-book with you and read it! And once you’re accustomed to the screen, it’s easy to forget you’ve done it electronically.

The only downside of an e-book is when you want to lend it to a friend. If you like to lend and borrow books, then you may yet be better off with a good old-fashioned paper-and-ink edition. And if you’re the type who leaves books on the bus, then you probably won’t want to risk doing that with an expensive e-book.

The WebWise 'W'

WebWise Team

WebWise was first launched in 1998 and since then has helped people of all ages to learn about and love the internet.