I don’t think anyone can argue that the term eBook (or ‘e-book’ for those of you who prefer to follow certain style guidelines rather than how people search on Google) has come to mean something more than a Word or Powerpoint document saved as a PDF file. Calling a marketing guide, white paper or other “free” information an eBook raises expectations.
I think calling something an eBook by today’s definition means it is available in a format that allows reading using a dedicated e-reader (i.e. Kindle, Nook, etc.) or e-reader software (for iPads, PC, Smartphones, etc.).
Granted, the ubiquity of PDF reader software still makes the format a slam-dunk for distributing information. But the public and technology have moved beyond the simplicity of the format to expect much more from a non-paper reading experience. Besides, have you ever tried reading a PDF on a Kindle? Don’t bother.
Ideally you want to produce eBooks and other important documents in at least three file formats, one being PDF. The other two—mobi and ePub—will optimize your content for the millions of e-readers, phones and tablets now being sold. Your readers will then be able to highlight and bookmark your information (although sharing it on Twitter or Facebook will be disabled. You’ll have it sell it on Amazon or in another store that supports social reading to get that benefit).
MailChimp, an email marketing services company does a terrific job in this regard. Virtually all of their 24 free guides are available in PDF, ePub and mobi file formats. That means readers can choose how they wish to read by loading the file on the device of their choice.
That’s good news for readers and we think it’s a trend we’ll see more of over the months ahead.
Have you see this with other information publishers? Let us know in the comments section.