Going From E-Books to Ebooks

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

We will no longer be writing about e-books at DigitalBookWorld.com. Due to a change in strategy, market forces, Google and the will of the people, we will now be devoting our coverage to the world of ebooks and digital publishing.

Before you panic, don’t worry! We’re still going to do all the things you’ve come to know us for this year: news, analysis, opinion, e-book best-seller coverage, the DBW Daily and more. We’re just going to start calling “e-books” “ebooks.”

Let me tell you why we’re doing this.

Just over a year ago today, when I started as editorial director of Digital Book World, I had a very important decision to make: e-books, ebooks or eBooks? My journalistic sensibility pushed me toward the first option, a sense of what was happening in the industry pushed me toward the second and the third struck me as more of a brand name than the proper descriptor for a thing.

So, in May, I wrote a blog post that got a lot of attention on DBW.com, “E-Books vs. Ebooks vs. eBooks.” In it, I talked about why we might go with each of the choices. Here is a summary of the reasons for each:

It’s accepted style: (New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Manual of Style were my sources.) E-books: +1

The logic: “E” is a descriptor for something we already know. You smash those things together with a hyphen. E-books: +1

Convenience: What do you do with “e-reader”? The Sony eReader is a product, further complicating things. E-books: +1; eBooks: -1

Ubiquity: Ebooks are quickly reaching the point where they are ubiquitous in society. It might take a few more years yet, but I think that ebooks will soon be as common as email, which has successfully made the transition from e-mail (though apparently not at the New York Times). Ebooks: +1

Search: Google likes “ebooks” better than it likes “e-books.” You can go back and look at my original post on this, but I base this assertion on some keyword research. Basically, “ebooks” is a more searched term with less competition than “e-books”. Ebooks and eBooks: +1 (Google doesn’t distinguish between the two.)

The people: We conducted an online poll, asking people what they wanted. Nearly 50% of 958 votes went to “eBooks.” eBooks: +1

Leading the conversation: We at Digital Book World want to help lead the discourse around ebooks and digital publishing. By going with ebooks, there’s an opportunity for us to do that, to say to the world, “ebooks are here and they’re big business now.” Ebooks: +1

My own sensibility and that of other journalists: When I wrote about this in May, I consulted many of my journalism friends about it and the overwhelming answer was “e-books.” After publishing, I received several more notes about it from people encouraging me to continue to carry to the torch of proper style. I agree with these people in principle. E-books: +1

E-books: +4
Ebooks: +3
eBooks: +1

So, that’s how I made my decision to go with “e-books.” And it’s served us at Digital Book World well ever since.

But that was then and this is now. From now on, editorial at DBW will be using the style “ebooks.” While there are other parts of the site that might still have the other usages, we will attempt to transition them as well.

Here are my reasons:

1. Search (see above)
2. Ubiquity (see above)
3. Leading the conversation (see above)
4. Twitter: #e-books doesn’t work as a hash-tag. #ebooks works fine.

While I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, I’ve timed this post to coincide with the launch of a new module on our homepage highlighting our Ebook Best-Seller list (to the right and a bit above where you are reading now). Notice it’s called “Top Ebook Best-Sellers.”

Questions? Comments? Rants? Leave ’em in the comments section or hit me up through twitter @JDGsaid or email me at jeremy [dot] greenfield [at] fwmedia [dot] com.

Related: E-Books vs. Ebooks vs. eBooks

12 thoughts on “Going From E-Books to Ebooks

  1. Jim Crocker

    Way to go Jer. I know. It’s a tough decision. Just think, there are still people out there hyphenating email, like it’s some kinda new thing. EVERYBODY’s online nowadays. Just for the record, I’m in favor of eBooks. I know. Whaddaya gonna do? What about eMail? No way. That just looks dumb. However, we can all certainly agree that those pesky hyphens just gotta-go. Fer-sure.

    1. Ellen K.

      While I understand the desire for change, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 11th ed. still would have you spell it “e-mail.” Clearly your house style is your prerogative, but since I personally like to have big books to back me up, I’d stick to “e-books”. Then again, to further complicate the issue, I do go with “smartphone” (one word). That spelling isn’t in my printed dictionary, but it is in the online version. Clearly the dictionary is in some serious need of catching up! But until then I’m still going to be a fuddy-duddy (hyphenated, of course) about it.

  2. Anon

    Hold on, you say “Let me tell you why we’re doing this” and then list the reasons why you were originally using “e-books”. I’m confused as I’d like to know why you’ve now moved to “ebooks”. I don’t have a problem with the change, but what caused you to make the change now, just a few months after a arguing they should be called “e-books”?

  3. John

    I read your entire article, “Going From E-Books to Ebooks” because the newsletter teaser said: “Read more on why we decided to drop the hyphen.” The third paragraph of the article said, “Let me tell you why we’re doing this.”

    The rest of the article summarized why the hyphen was there in the first place, but it did not explain why the hyphen was dropped other than to say, “that was then and this is now.” That’s it? After all that build-up, “Read more about why…” and “Let me tell you why…” all we get is “that was then and this is now?”

    Very disappointing.

  4. Donna

    Can’t wait to see what upcoming AP stylebooks have to say on the subject. “Ebook” is a lot easier to use than “E-book.”



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