Are We Ready for E-Books?



In a typical Boston bookshop customers move their way through the corridors and rooms to browse through thousands of books that are spread over two floors. “It’s a lot of paper” says one of the shop assistants. She admits that the store could get much smaller if the digital revolution gets to the bookshelves.

The catchword is e-book , or electronic book - something you read on screen instead of on paper. You can load books onto small computers to read while you are on the move .

There are lots of different e-books. Some are really computers and may even be bound in leather to look like a real book. The RocketBook , for example, is a portable that can display pages. Others are just computer programs which you can use to display books on your computer or notebook.

Then there are PDAs, or pocket computers, that can be used as an e-book if you have the right software. They are portable and have wireless connections to libraries or bookstores.

E-books have many advantages :

  • You can store lots of books on one computer.
  • You can mark your book with an electronic bookmark .
  • You can change the size of the type or font
  • Some e-books have built in dictionaries so you can click on a word and find out what it means.
  • And of course e-books can also include pictures, sound clips or small videos.


Some people think that e-books will replace printed books in the near future. For dictionaries and encyclopedias this is already true. Wikipedia, for example, gives you more than a multivolume encyclopaedia can give you.



The e-book industry, however , still faces many problems. There are many different types of formats for e-books, and the book you may want to read may not be available in a certain format. Publishers develop their own format so that the reader has to download their books.

Microsoft Reader is one of the e-book formats that allow you to get books from other companies to read on your machine. Recently Sony has started a worldwide campaign on the digital book sector. The Sony Reader is a handheld device that has been on the market for just about a year. It is about the size of a paperback and can also store PDFs, photos and music. The battery lasts about 7500 pages before you have to recharge it. It can hold 80 books in its memory . Sony’s new invention weighs about 200 grams , is 2 cm thick and has a 15 cm long screen. It costs about 240 € .

Amazon has developed a small device called the Kindle. It can display books, magazines and newspapers . Users can download thousands of books found in the Amazon store.

Major publishers , like Random House, think that as consumers are doing more work on computers every day, they may also be reading more books on screen as well. Right now the company offers about 6,000 e-books. They cost about 2 € a book which is much lower than the price of a paperback . The high costs of paper books are caused by printing and distribution .




Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets


Related Topics


  • admit = to say that something is true
  • advantage = good side of something
  • available = on hand , exist
  • bookmark = a place that tells you where you have stopped; you can go there any time you like
  • bound = covered on the outside with leather
  • browse = to look at the things in a shop without wanting something to buy
  • built-in = you cannot take it out
  • campaign = actions that lead to more people buying the item
  • catchword = slogan, motto
  • cause = lead to
  • claim = say
  • consumer = a person who buys things
  • corridor = hall or small places that connect rooms
  • · customer = a person who buys things in a shop
  • develop = design, create
  • device = machine
  • display = show
  • distribution = to bring books from the publishing plant to book stores around the country
  • encyclop a edia = many books or a single book that has information on many topics in it
  • face = here: has
  • font = set of letters and numbers used for printing books
  • however = but
  • include = to have in it
  • instead of = in something’s place
  • invention = a new machine or device
  • library = a place where you can borrow books
  • load = move from a distant server to your computer
  • memory = a part of an electronical machine where you can store information
  • multivolume = more than one part
  • offer = here: to have for customers to buy
  • on the move = if you are not at home
  • pain = the feeling you have when part of your body hurts
  • paperback = a book that has a soft cover and is cheaper than leather bound books
  • portable = it does not have a fixed place ; something you can take with you anywhere
  • publisher = company that prints and sells books
  • recently = during the last few weeks or months
  • recharge = to fill with energy again
  • replace = to use instead of
  • spread = lay out over
  • store = save
  • topic = theme, subject
  • weigh = how heavy something is
  • wireless connection = to transmit data without using a wire