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Ebooks – the New Website Content or a Pdf?

I’ve come across the term ebooks quite a lot recently, both as a consumer and a B2B marketer. Intrigued I wondered if this was a new form on website content that I should be delving into, throwing out the classic guides and articles.

What I found initially when having a quick search online, was they seem to be not much more than a glorified PDF file. On closer inspection though I’m changing my mind.

Firstly if done properly, these little ebooks are much more user friendly for people reading on handheld devices. The layouts are nicer to read, the pages have been better optimised for those on the go.

I also like the fact that they don’t render the same on every device but adjust to fill your screen so you don’t have to zoom in and out repeatedly to try and read everything on a page.

It would appear to be pretty easy to get your PDFs converted to an ebook format. Epub is a popular format that seems to be compatible with most devices. You can get simple software that will convert your PDFs for you and voila you have a new mobile friendly piece of website content. You could then start to add buttons to your content – giving people options to download as PDF or Ebook.

Whilst rendering is important I would say at this point that if you’re consciously creating content that you think will be read on handhelds, make sure you give your design and content a once over as well.  Nobody wants to read something hugely text heavy on their mobile, if you’re adding to Amazon or for iPad viewing though that is perfectly acceptable. Also think button/picture size – if there are any in there then make sure they’re not too tiny!

Finally bear in mind the frustrations of filling in forms when using a touchscreen, if you want to put your ebook behind a form then at least make it a short one (with large buttons). As long as you catch their email address you can always go back to them for more data at a later stage.

So in conclusion I like ebooks.  I think there are more to them than meets the eye and you shouldn’t just fire all of your existing PDFs into that format. I’m speaking to my designer about getting some of our existing content re-purposed for ebook format, it’ll have to be optimised first of course…