An ebook is an electronic version of a paper book (although
not all ebooks are available as traditional books). You can download classic books, like Treasure
Island for free, or use a website like www.amazon.co.uk
to purchase other titles. Amazon boasts over 550,000 titles! You can read
ebooks on your PC as long as you have Adobe Reader (or other similar program). You
can download an ebook as a file called a PDF. This stands for Portable Document
Format and is a file which can be read by any computer as long as it has a
viewer installed. If you want to read your ebook like a normal book (away from
your computer screen) then you need to purchase an ebook reader.
There are several brands of ebook reader on the market but
the most popular brands are Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad. Prices vary from
around £100 to £500. Some models even have built in mobile internet so you can
download new books away from your home internet connection. Unfortunately the
major ebook providers are not compatible with each other. So if you have a Kindle
you must use Amazon’s Kindle store and the iPad must use Apple’s iTunes.
Once you have purchased your reader you can buy books online
for as little as 50p. Most of the latest releases are cheaper than their paper
versions, but the prices do vary widely. If you visit www.gutenberg.org there
are hundreds of free books available to download. These are free because they
are outside of copyright and most work on Kindle and iPad.
One of the great things about these electronic book readers
is the ability to change the font size, making text easier to read. They are
light too, making a thick book like War and Peace much more comfortable to
hold. The battery life on the Kindle is advertised as lasting a month between
recharging. The iPad needs recharging more often.
Whilst it is down to person taste, whether you like the
smell of a new book or like to have the latest gadgets it is worth noting that
the cost of purchasing a Kindle can be offset by reading 23 classic books on it
instead of purchasing them in their paperback versions!