dictionaryI wrote yesterday about a little company that sent me some ‘e-book’ coloring books to review. For two reasons, I had used the term e-book to describe these products. First, they were for sale in the Kindle store; and second, they were meant to replace what would otherwise have been a paper book purchase.

So I was surprised to find myself in a semantic argument with our long-time commenter and fellow journalist Nate Hoffelder over at The Digital Reader, who chastised me that these products were not an e-book per se, but rather a print-on-demand product, where you, yourself, do the printing. He does have a fair point to be made that coloring books are rather useless unless you can render them onto paper so you can do the actual coloring-in. Still, I do maintain that my definition of an e-book—namely, that it is obtained electronically in lieu of a paper book purchase—has some merit.

At the same time, Nate is correct that there is sometimes room for interpretation in these matters. I just purchased an e-book bundle which had some interesting products in it. There were books, mostly in PDF with an option to add ePub and Mobi files for an extra $10. And there was also a package from a popular paper planner guru which featured her complete 2016 collection—a print-your-own planner with almost 100 pages of extras, bundled to accommodate full-page versions, half-page versions, pages pre-dated and pages undated for eternal use. So, just what is this product? Yes, it is meant to replace the paper planner books you might buy in the store. But isn’t the true electronic version of those to simply do away with the paper altogether and move everything onto your phone?

So, I don’t know. To me, the coloring book is an e-book. But I can see how it might not be, also. At any rate, I think it is a good sign that there is even enough innovation in electronic offerings these days that this is even debatable. I am all for customers having choices and offerings of many kinds—whatever they chose to call them.

Image credit: Here.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Other pBook examples include flip books, slam books, pop-up books and so on. Although slam books have been pretty much coopted by social media, the others do have digital analogs that might justify the title eBook. I suppose that they’d mostly be ePub 3 fixed layout and that further blurs the lines that some are trying to draw.
    So what things that have a digital counterpart cannot be shoehorned into the class of things we call eBooks?

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