E-Books, Part 2: Short Nonfiction (How-To) E-Books

For many people, the word e-book means a PDF or proprietary electronic (some type of .exe file) document that is usually a short how-to guide.

Often these e-books are offered free as a marketing tool for the author. Many of these e-books are useful: I recommend Mihaela Lica’s SEO Book of WordPress Blogs, and Yvonne at Grow Your Writing Business has a list of recommended e-books and advice on writing e-books.

However, a number of these free e-books are worth exactly what you pay for them, and downloading them is a waste of time. The one advantage may be to convince you not to pay for information from that “expert.”

At the other end of the spectrum are the e-books sold by gurus for exorbitant prices. While the information may be valuable and active links can make the e-book more useful than a print copy, most of these e-books are not designed for easy reading. Often they are encrypted to protect the copyright of the author, making it inconvenient for the reader. The e-book can only be read on a computer, and few people want to sit at the computer to read a book, especially when you can probably find similar information in a print book for far less money.

My personal philosophy on downloading how-to e-books is this:

  • If the book is available only in a proprietary format that must be read on the computer, I don’t download it. I know it will too inconvenient for me to read.
  • If the book is available only in encrypted PDF, I download it if it’s something I REALLY want to read. I keep a few encrypted PDF e-books on my desktop to read when I’m waiting for the computer to back up.
  • If the book is available in unencrypted PDF and the subject or author interest me, I’ll download the file, convert it to another format, and import it to my e-book reader so I can read it comfortably.
  • If the book costs significantly more than it would cost in print, I most likely will not download it.

That’s my take on nonfiction, how-to books written specifically as e-books, available in only one format, and published by an individual or company that is not in the publishing business.

What are your thoughts?

The next installment in this series will be about e-books from electronic and small press publishers.

Related Posts:
Read an E-Book Week
Self-Publishing Primer: Part 13 – Do I need a Web site – and should I make my book available as an e-book?

Share this!