Posted by: Katie | June 1, 2010

How to read an ebook in 10 minutes

The basis for this set of guidelines is the increase of ebooks in library collections, and more importantly the use of electronic versions of advanced readers copies by publishers. The electronic version of a book is very much a different beast from the print version.

There is a pedigree behind these guidelines as well. I’m most immediately riffing off of those presented by Jessica Moyer in the first chapter of The Readers’ Advisory Handbook. Jessica lists in her introduction the various librarians who created and improved upon the guidelines over the years. Frankly, I will only be adapting the first four guidelines enumerated by Jessica as those are the ones dealing with the format and format characteristics of the book. The other four deal with content, so I’ll list them as main points, and you can check out the deeper questions in the book.

These guidelines are also open to revision, so if you think there are missing considerations for when you are quickly evaluating an ebook, let me know in the comments or e-mail me at younglibrarian{AT}

  • Marketing design
    • Is there a cover design to the book?
    • Is the cover appealing to the target audience?
    • What visual elements are present if there is a cover?
    • Will the cover translate well from a color display to a black-and-white display?
    • What is the relation of the title to the author’s name?
    • Has the book been branded in a particular way, either through the publisher’s imprint or a series within the imprint?
    • If there is no cover design, is there some kind of graphic element associated with the book?
  • Marketing copy
    • Has the publisher provided a “back cover” blurb?
    • Is the blurb available in the file or just as part of a catalog entry?
    • What does the blurb tell you?
  • Typeface/ease of changing size/flow of text
    • Is the typeface easy to read?
    • Is the book typeset according to standard expectations?
    • Are you allowed to change the font size?
    • How easily does the typeface and typesetting flow when increasing or decreasing the font size? This can and does change from book to book, even when the books are from the same publisher.
  • Physical characteristics/format/DRM
    • How long is the book?
    • In how many formats is the book available?
    • Is there metadata for the file?
    • Is the metadata correct/logical?
    • Is the book locked down with Digital Rights Management (DRM) or is it DRM-free?
    • If the book is locked down with DRM, what kinds of programs/reading devices will the readers/patrons/end users need to have access to?
  • Read a sample
  • What are the appeal factors?
  • Describe other factors
  • Connect the title to other books

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