An eBook is an electronic version of a traditional print book that can be read by using a personal computer or by using an eBook reader. (An eBook reader can be a software application for use on a computer, such as Microsoft's free Reader application, or a book-sized computer that is used solely as a reading device, such as Nuvomedia's Rocket eBook.) Users can purchase an eBook on diskette or CD, but the most popular method of getting an eBook is to purchase a downloadable file of the eBook (or other reading material) from a Web site (such as Barnes and Noble) to be read from the user's computer or reading device. Generally, an eBook can be downloaded in five minutes or less.
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Although it is not necessary to use a reader application or device in order to read an Ebook (most books can be read as PDF files), they are popular because they enable options similar to those of a paper book - readers can bookmark pages, make notes, highlight passages, and save selected text. In addition to these familiar possibilities, eBook readers also include built-in dictionaries, and alterable font sizes and styles. Typically, an eBook reader hand-held device weighs from about twenty-two ounces to three or four pounds and can store from four thousand to over half a million pages of text and graphics. A popular feature is its back-lit screen (which makes reading in the dark possible).
Some eBooks can be downloaded for free or at reduced cost, however, prices for many eBooks - especially bestsellers - are similar to those of hardcover books, and are sometimes higher. Most eBooks at Barnes and Noble, for example, are comparable in price to their traditional print versions.
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- The OEB Forum works towards creating standards in simultaneous production of electronic and print media.