Why Put Your E-book In Plain Text?
There's a myriad of e-book formats out there all begging for your attention. However, the most popular ones such as Kendle andEpub are just two of the many e-book formats available today.
However, I personally see a huge problem with these specialized formats, so I am going to go on a bit of a rant here in this post if you don't mind OK?
Just like there are tons and tons of word processing file formats out there, the same can be said for e-books too. There are just too many choices out there for you to choose from. However, have you ever given these formats any real thought? Do you even know if they will be around in the future?
Well if the e-book formats work much like file formats do, then those e-books that were in that particular format might not last very long. Just as word processing file formats change and are no longer being used, the same can be said for e-book formats also.
Just think all those Kindle books that you had stored on your phone from 20 years ago may no longer work on your new device because that particular Kindle file format is no longer being used and your new Kindle reader can't read the older Kindle file formats, so all those books that you had purchased are no longer accessible to you. Now how do you like those apples?
E-book formats change all due to trying to protect the work from copyright infringement and pyracy. However, all of these elaborate protection schemes actually take away from the user experience of reading and enjoying an e-book. For starters, you have the problem of accessibility to those who are sight impaired or disabled in other ways. These fancy file formats for e-books are for the most part not too accessible.
However, Kindle is more accessible than other formats, but even Kindle has its issues too. Like was mentioned, it is all about the copyright. This is why all of these e-book formats can't be used on other platforms other than what the e-book can be used on at the time. What if at some point in the future you go to read one of your Kindle books only to quickly discover that it can't be accessed because your version of Kindle can no longer open that particular Kindle file format? What are you to do then? Believe me, this will happen at some point in the future Just watch.
This is another reason why I absolutely love plain text. OK, so it isn't protected from copyright infringement or anything like that, but I don't believe that most people are going to plagiarize your work for their own personal gain. Most people just want plain access to the material without having to download some special software, or having to use some special reader just to read your book.
Plain text fits the bill nicely, and like was said so many times on this blog, it can be viewed on any device whether it be Windows, Apple, Android or whatever. Plain text just works and it works very very well.
It isn't demanding nor does it require for you to have to have specialized software in order to view it. However, people have been taught that they need all those fancy fonts, paragraph structures and all those fancy e-book file formats.
However, there is a tiny little secret that I need to share with you that may be a bit shocking. Did you know that there are MP3 players on the market today that will allow for you to read e-books in plain text format? That's absolutely right. I am not kidding here. Many MP3 players found on Amazon can actually let you read your text based e-books right on them with no trouble whatsoever.
Now you may be asking; why plain text and why not word processing file formats, or even PDF files and such? Well the answer is really quite simple. Plain text is totally universal. It is also the smallest file format for written communication. OK, now that I have shocked you and impressed you, there's something else that I need to share with you as well and this has to do with people who are blind or visually impaired.
There are devices available today that are totally portable that will let a blind or visually impaired person take their text files with them and actually listen to them. These devices are known as portable book players. These specialized players can play book files from the national library services for the blind as well as from other services. However, the focus here is the document formats that they can support.
These portable book players can handle plain text, RTF,DOC, DOCX, PDF,EPUB and other file formats not mentioned in this post. It is however, the plain text files that we are interested in here.
OK, so you're probably asking; how do the blind read these files on these special devices? Do they have screens? No, these devices do not have screens but what they do have in lue of that is text to speech software built into the devices themselves. That's right, these devices can talk. They allow for a blind person to read the text files that are on the device.
So why should you publish books in plain text then? What is the purpose of that? Well for one thing, as was mentioned so many times, plain text files are the smallest form of digital written communication there is. Plain text files take up far less room than any other file format available today.
Now of course you do run into the problem of distribution and copyright infringement and stuff like that, but that can even happen with those other file formats just as well. It is just that putting an e-book in plain text format gives greater access, plus it allows for everyone no matter what type of system they're on to be able to read the book without having to first install a piece of proprietary software just to read a book in a particular file format. While all these other file formats will either go out of use or go through some rather big changes in the future, plain text will always remain the same no matter what. Plain text isn't owned by anyone, and it is totally portable, future proof and reliable even though it is considered an open file format that isn't really protected by any digital rights management schemes like the other file formats are for e-books.
So am I encouraging you to publish your e-books in plain text format? Absolutely yes! However, I also realize that you may be publishing in the other file formats just as well, and that's fine, but if you publish in plain text, you will be able to reach a wider audience than if you didn't.
Yeah I know you're worried about that copyright thing, but let me tell you that not everyone is out there waiting to infringe on your rights to your work, and not everyone is going to copy your files and send them to other people either.
I believe that a lot of people just want access to the information without having to bother with complicated, bloated software that is constantly changing all of the time. I believe that people are actually tired of all the complicated digital rights management schemes and they want something that is simple and easy to use. Well plain text has always been that very thing. It is simple, easy to use, easy to read and doesn't require bloated software on your system in order to use it.
So when you're publishing your books in those other file formats then be sure to also publish it in plain text also. You'll be glad that you took this advice and you will be thanking me for it because once you do that, you will be able to reach a much wider audience with your work.