An e-book is a book published and distributed in digital format, available as a file that can be downloaded and stored to be read either on the screen of a personal computer, an e-reader, a touch pad, mobile phone or a device for reading audio books.
In practice, e-book refer to both the content (the text itself) as well as, by metonymy, the support for displaying the content. These two terms are also synonymous with “e-reader”, the electronic reader for reading e-books.
The “complete” written work by Victor Hugo published in Jean-Jacques Pauvert represents 40 million characters. The Bible as it can be downloaded from the Internet, less than 10 million bytes regardless of the language in question. A single 32 Go SDHC card makes it possible to carry anywhere around 2000 text collections of this size.
A given text of the book when a specific word is known, can be found quickly even if the document does not have an index.
Compared with the classic shape that is the paper book, digital book presents, for the disabled, the advantage of a much better accessibility. The digital book can indeed be restored on a device adapted for the type of disability, such as braille or audio reproduction. There are specific standards of digital books for disabled visitors. This is notably the case of DAISY, audio books standard for people prevented from reading printed materials (blind, visually impaired, dyslexic, disabled lights but having trouble turning the pages of a book …).
Independence of the reading device
A digital book is available on various reading devices (readers, computer, tablet, smartphone, Braille, audio book player). In some cases, if you are connected to the Internet, you can find the exact passage where you had stopped consulting a book, even from other media.
Richard Stallman, an activist American for free software, warned against several possible dangers, including:
- since you must identify to pay online or download a book on a commercial site or a digital library, the “authorities” can access your playlist;
- there are several precedents of remote wipe of works by at least a distributor (Amazon.com) on the devices of people who downloaded it.
Stallman notes, however, that books from Project Gutenberg and some others do not have these risks.
As with all digital files, including those stored on an external server by users (cloud), the question arises as to what would happen if your library or publisher (or distributor or a service digital storage) disappears.