In the digital world, like so many others a rather common problem
presents itself. With more and more people participate, the quality
and legality often suffers. A parallel to the eBook problem is that
of a store (your convenience store, for example) and the coming
of the Internet. To open a store in the real world you must have
capital, inventory, equipment, a premise; certain licenses and you
are bound by rules and regulations (with regulators to back them
up). To open an eStore you need nothing but a basic understanding
of a computer and stock. There are regulations but due to international
trade, no one can really back them up - and often they fall into
the pit of illegal activity by either taking the money and running
or selling stolen or pirated goods. That is not to say all eStores
are running illegal goods, nor are they even a majority, but they
are there and they are far more rampant than your common brick-and-mortar
store two doors down.
It is the same thing with eBooks versus their paper brethren. The
cost of producing a paper book often prohibits pirating on a large
scale and while shoddy products do exist, you can always return
it for a refund. With eBooks however, the cost is minimal, if anything
and there are no standards to enforce. Typing 'Harry Potter eBook'
in to Google reveals many readily downloadable versions of an illegal
book. The quality of such books (and many legal ones) are extremely
questionable, with errors abounding, improper formatting, stolen
graphics for title pages and possibly gross portions of the original
text missing. Hardly something you would want to try and read.
This section will detail what to look for when purchasing or downloading
eBooks, to determine whether they are authentic or merely cheap
copies or illegally pirated books.
1. "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover"
While this adage is used far too often today it still holds a very
valid point, when purchasing eBooks, do not simply say to yourself,
"The cover looks professional so it is probably authentic." This
might seem like unnecessary advice but it is wise to heed it. In
today's digital age, a pretty picture can be quickly and almost
effortlessly generated using an image-editing tool. (View sample
fake cover below)
(Its just that easy to make a fake eBook cover -
total editing time, 1 minute)
2. What does the site look like?
What does the site look like? Are their spelling errors running
rampant? Are their ads that aren't meant for illicit or profane
products or services? Are the books free even though you would have
to pay for them at a local bookstore? If so, use common sense. It
should be fairly obvious that the publishing company does probably
not endorse these books.
3. What does the ebook look like?
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. If
you are purchasing or downloading an eBook that is deemed 'official'
but there are many spelling errors or the book is not properly formatted,
how official do you think it is?
4. What does the ebook look right?
When downloading a free or purchased eBook, for example Macbeth,
it should be readable. In the case of Macbeth, a Shakespearean play,
it should be properly formatted, in other words, the characters
names should all be aligned with their lines and should be capitalized.
You shouldn't see a lines appear on the same line as the preceding
line. If you are faced with this, the book will often be a chore
to read and probably means further quality issues down the road.
(See figure 4.1)
to the bar
Can you read that easily?
5. Was the book released electronically?
It is surprising how many people believe that because they find
a copy of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or other popular eBook
on the Internet, they immediately assume it was released by the
publisher for electronic distribution. For very popular and very
recent books publishers don't often release the digital rights to
it. The reason for that is that, while eBooks are relatively secure
they can still be mass distributed much faster than a paper book.
So, before downloading a book do some research. If it is a popular
book, look on some large scale sites (listed in a previous section)
and see if you can find it. If you can't find it or any news about
it, chances are it isn't legitimate.
After asking yourself these simple questions you should be able
to easily discern whether the book is of good quality and legal.
It is often best to do some research on the site you purchase or
download from, remember, if it is such a popular site, chances are
others will agreeand say so on the Internet.