Jennifer Tribe

Article Summary:

Reasons why you should choose PDF as the format for your ebook over other special ebook formats.

Why your Ebook should be in PDF Format?

Last week, someone asked me to recommend a good e-book generator. It's a question I get a lot. And I told him what I tell everyone: forget e-book generators. Instead, create your e-books and other print documents in PDF format.

Why choose PDF over a special e-book format?

Familiarity and Ease of Use
Nearly everyone with a computer has Adobe's *free reader on their machine and knows how to use it. The same cannot be said for the proprietary e-book formats. E-book files create a learning curve for your customer as they try to familiarize themselves with document set-up, navigation and functionality that they may *never have encountered before. That's work. Who wants to do extra work to use a product?

Trust Factor
E-book formats may require that customers install new files on their machine to read the book. Some e-book files are delivered as .exe files, which are notorious for their ability to carry *nasty viruses. Your file may not be an .exe and it might be clean as a whistle, but customers may be reluctant to install the files anyway. The PDF format is well-known and trusted. No mysterious installations, no viruses.

Readable by Anyone
PDF is a universal format that can be read on any type of computer. Most e-book generators create files that can only be read on PCs, leaving your Mac and Linux customers out in the cold.

File Stability
PDF documents have a far smaller chance of containing technical glitches. An e-book I once downloaded wouldn't forward through the chapters properly. Sometimes I'd *click on a chapter title and get a blank page, or only the first page. The problems only got worse over time. I've *never had such problems with a PDF document and the files remain stable over time.

What About Security?
What about security and preventing file theft, you say? This is a common concern among e-book publishers and often the reason they go searching for an e-book generator in the first place.

To those people I say: piracy happens. No matter what format you create your e-book in, if someone is intent on stealing it, they will find a way to do so.

Publishers focused on tightly locking up their material often end up creating barriers between themselves and *legitimate paying customers. For example, you might decide to lock the print function so that people can't print and photocopy your content. Then a paying customer who doesn't want to read the whole thing on screen tries to print it out and can't. They get frustrated. Frustrations don't lead to more *sales or good customer relations.

I'm not saying you turn a blind eye to large-scale theft. To maintain your copyright, you do need to pursue people who are trying to pass off your content as theirs, reproduce whole pieces of your work in their work without permission, sell your materials without permission, or give them away on a large scale (say, as a *free public download from their web site). But if someone wants to share their e-book with their sister, it will happen anyway. In my opinion, trying to track down and stop these pass-alongs will cause you more time, *money and grief than it's worth.

If you really want to use security functions such as password protection or locking the print function, they're available in PDF anyway. Just be aware of the compromises you might be making in your ability to truly serve your paying customers.

A Case in Point
Some of you will know that I used to give away a free e-book with each subscription to my e-zine. But I stopped doing that in October 2004 because I was having many of the problems I've just described - it was an .exe file, Mac users couldn't read it, and some people had trouble opening the file.

The publisher didn't offer a PDF version so I pulled the book altogether. I'm now developing a special report of my own - in PDF format - that I can offer to new subscribers instead.

Jennifer Tribe is the president of Juiced Consulting, a company that helps business owners turn their expertise into money-making information products like books, special reports, teleclasses, and audiotapes and CDs. Jennifer holds a degree in journalism and has worked extensively as a writer and editor. Her articles on information products have been published in Management Magazine, Home Business Magazine, BusinessWoman Canada, and other leading publications. Subscribe to her free e-zine, Infopreneuring Strategies, at www.juiced consulting.com.

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