Breaking Down the eBook eVerse

GreenPorch Winter of eReadingLet’s crawl before we walk. The eBook eVerse is a dangerous place where the second letters of words are capitalized rather than the first. And if you’re not ready for it, those second letters will pop up out of nowhere and knock the reality right out of you.

So, for lesson one we’ll address the individually orbiting particles that make up the eVerse. (We’ll deal with their complicated interactions over several more posts.) Just like the universe of your favorite sci-fi series, the eVerse consists primarily of 1.) space 2.) navigational systems 3.) vehicles 4.) space ports or home worlds. (Throw in a Klingon or a Reever here and there for dramatic tension, and we’re ready to rip.)

Let’s break it down. The space of our eVerse is represented by all the available eBooks and electronic content out there. Whether you prefer core systems or the black fringes of where no reader has gone before, if it’s been digitized it’s part of the outer space of the eVerse. So far, so good.

Next we have the navigational systems that allow us as eVerse travelers to locate and arrive at our chosen sector of space. If I want to read young adult paranormal romance without vampires for less than $5, there are still countless sectors to choose from. It’s up to nav to get me to a good one within my parameters. In the eVerse navigational systems are equivalent to eBook stores or eBook retailers.

These nav systems are only as good as the star maps incorporated into them. Some would be able to show me several hundred destinations dripping with cheap non-vampiric teenage lust while others perhaps only a few dozen. For now we’ll list the main players, but wait for a future post to discuss them further: Amazon/Kindle, Barnes and Noble/Nook, Google Books, Sony Reader Store, Kobo Store, iBooks.

Much like the neighborhood bookstore of old, people are relying on these eBook stores for navigating the eVerse rather than simply dispensing it. And while the content of the book may be the same from store to store, the format will differ. So the one you use makes a difference if you prefer journey over destination.

Then we have the vehicles that will transport us to far off locales within the eVerse. These vehicles are equivalent to the eReader platform or software apps loaded on our devices. That’s right, the vehicles are not the devices themselves. Step back from the brink. There’s no need for deploying the¬†¬†juvenile Ceti eels just yet! The vehicle that conveys us readers directly to the material we wish to read is the eReading platform or app. Kindle and Nook happen to both be platforms and devices. But not both are equal as each (how’s that for confusing!)

One of the best eReading platforms is actually one of the oldest, Stanza. (The list includes names like Google, Adobe, Kobo, etc.) For those of you who wish to read eBooks from a smartphone, tablet or computer most eReading platforms are available to you. (The Kindle and Nook eReading platforms can be loaded onto any smartphone.) But many of the pure eReader devices are restricted to one proprietary platform. Oh the madness! You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! Damn you all to hell! (Sorry. Now where were we…)

In the eVerse of books the eReader devices themselves are equivalent to space docks or home worlds. They are the places where we come back to. They harbor our little snippets of space allowing us to live in them at our convenience. Some of these home worlds are expansive and inclusive. They allow all sorts of eBooks and formats to be stored and read from every different eReader platform or app. But be wary, some are oneway space docks limiting who and what can land and limiting who and what can take off even further.

The dock/home world is where aesthetics most come into play. The nav system is all about function–show me the book I want. But the device has to feel like home. Smartphones are small, versatile and go with us everywhere (but have tiny screens). An iPad has crazy functionality, but serves as an eReader secondarily. Etc. The bummer for us eVerse travelers is that the device is the most tangible aspect, and thus we assume the most important. But this is erroneous.

The devices themselves are evolving rapidly and changing constantly. Choosing a devise first is much like picking a travel destination based on the convenience and proximity of the flight. Imagine thinking, “Hmm, the flight to Cleveland leaves from the airport closest to me an hour after I get off work. I was going to go to Jamaica, but that flight requires a layover and doesn’t leave until 8:30. Cleveland, here I come!”

Start with 1.) the books and content you most often read. Then figure out which nav systems or 2.) eBook retailers can provide you best access to those corners of space. Then figure out which vehicle or 3.) eReading app will function most seamlessly with the nav system you’ve chosen. Finally, 4.) buy the device that will provide unhindered docking for your eReading app of choice, thus providing endless enjoyment of the eVerse![divider]

If this still seems daunting, never fear. Following posts will break down each of these eVerse components using equally confusing and nerdy analogies. Live long and prosper.

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