7 things you need to know about eBooks

eBooks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. Still confused about what it means for your extensive, musty Jilly Cooper collec

eBooks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. Still confused about what it means for your extensive, musty Jilly Cooper collection? Let tell you all you need to know about the most controversial gadget going.

They’re already massive

Amazon has shifted nearly 250,000 Kindle eBooks since launching it in the States last November. While it hasn’t hit the UK yet, the Sony PRS–505 eReader has. Its £200 price tag means it’s not obscenely overpriced and with thousands of books going for free, it’s clear eBooks are going to be massive in the not–too–distant future.

You can get eBooks for free

If you’ve fronted up the best part of £200 for an eBook, you’re going to want something for free. Fortunately, every major classic is available for download without you having to pay a penny, thanks to their copyright going the way of traditional books. Planet eBook has a great selection including 1984 and Ulysses. Not that you’ll ever finish the latter.

Project Gutenberg is leading the way

Set up way back in 1971, Project Gutenberg (nothing to do with washed up Cocoon star Steve Gutenberg sadly) is the place to be for eBook fanboys. With the aim of encouraging ‘the creation and distribution of ebooks,’ the site is home to a massive 25,000 free eBooks, from classics to cook books. If you’ve got an eBook, you need to check it out.

There are stacks of models to choose from

The Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle aren’t the only eBook readers after your cash. The iLiad, which comes in at a rather hefty £399 is also a contender, as are the superbly monikered Readius (sounds like an educational Transformer to us) and the Astak Mentor.

They make life easier

Just like the iPod, eBooks are gadgets which make life far more convenient. The Sony eReader can store a massive 160 books, plenty to keep you going on a round–the–world jaunt and meaning no trips to those crummy book swap joints in backpackers hostels.

They’re perfect for long haul flights

The fear of batteries running low when you’re crammed into a cattle class seat on a ten hour trip to the States is one every gadget lover knows only too well. eBooks can take up to 6,800 page turns before powering down. Enough to read War and Peace four times over. That’s four times too many for us, mind.

Apple want to make the iPod Touch into an eBook

The screen might be a bit small, but rumour has it that Jobs and co want to turn their best–selling PMP into a home from home for eBooks. It certainly makes sense. They could sell copies straight from the iTunes store, which you could snag when you're out and about. For our money though, this is more likely on a beefier, as–yet–unreleased, Tablet device.