The first major printed book was a Bible in 1455, and since then books have been largely paper in nature. Books printed on paper, however, are no longer the only option. Books are now widely available in digital versions in the form of electronic books (eBooks) and audiobooks. Like music, digital books can now travel everywhere. All a book lover needs to enjoy literature is an electronic reader (e-reader) or a digital music player for an audiobook.
eBooks come in a multitude of formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI, AZW [Kindle]) and require an e-reader. While there are still some who resist e-readers because they don't "feel" like books, there are a myriad of reasons to use them. These include:
While most tablets and smartphones have apps that allow them be used as e-readers, there are still dozens of dedicated e-reader devices on the market from makers all over the globe. Among the most popular of the dedicated e-readers are:
Note that there are multiple versions of each one of these e-readers, such as the Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, Aura One, Aura H20, etc. Also important to note is that unlike when e-readers were first being produced, each of these e-readers supports multiple file formats either natively or with a downloadable app, so that even if a reader purchases a Kobo e-reader, there is still the ability to purchase eBooks from the Amazon store.
The other digital side to books is the audiobook. As the name would suggest, this is a book that you listen to. Someone has made a recording reading the entire book, word for word, and made that available. This has been a great option for people who don't want to hold something in their hand (perhaps while riding a train, exercising, or even just lying in bed) or to get the enjoyment of a book while driving to work or taking a long drive somewhere.
The first audiobooks were recorded on cassette tape, so listeners needed something that played cassettes to listen to them. Today, audiobooks are digital and are recorded in MP3 or WAV file format. Both of these formats are supported on just about any device that plays digital music, and even most modern car stereo systems support these file types via a USB flash drive. And while smartphones now all play digital music as well, portable MP3 players also offer a good alternative to draining a smartphone battery while listening to 20 hours of an audiobook.
Digital books (eBooks) and audiobooks are available at online retailers throughout the Internet. Most of the same retailers who sell the e-readers also offer digital books and audiobooks. Specifically, Amazon.com, Kobo.com, and BarnesandNoble.com all over eBooks and audiobooks. Other popular sites include Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org) for public domain audiobooks and digital books, Librivox.org (strictly public domain audiobooks), and Smashwords.com (digital books from mostly new and independent authors).
Thanks to digital books and audiobooks, readers are no longer forced to enjoy their books in weighty tomes or with the weight of their conscience for the paper process. Now, books can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere in these very accessible, and very portable, formats.