Are You Still Calling Them eBooks?

08.20.18 // John O'Toole

We’ve all been there. You’re finalizing an ebook for publication, and suddenly you realize you’re not sure if ebook is one word or two hyphenated words (e-book).

Should the ‘e’ be capitalized when used in a title (Ebook or E-book) or should it always remain lowercase (eBook or e-Book)? Or is it E-Book? I set out to find the answer, and in doing so I may have altered the fate of eBooks forever.

I started by polling the Obility office, which is made up of a collection of Demand Gen marketers, Digital Marketers, PPC Managers, SEO Managers, and B2B Solutions Consultants.

As you may have guessed, the poll did not produce a clear winner. In fact, it sparked a debate that carried on for hours. Alliances were formed, allegiances were sworn, and ultimatums were given as shockwaves rippled through the office.

Don’t worry, we will rebuild.

In the end, we realized that there was no clear answer. This problem has plagued ebooks since the dawn of their existence. The crux of the issue is the word itself.

It was born during a brief period when we referred to browsing the internet as “surfing the web”. I cringe at the thought. Why are we beholden to the legacy of this flawed terminology?

We tried to come up with alternatives.

Of course we were just cracking jokes at this point, but I couldn’t let it go. How could I continue my job of promoting ebooks when I knew there was a flaw with this word?

Even as I write this, it mocks me.

Our CEO reminded us in a recent meeting that we are thought leaders, and if there is not a clear answer then we need to provide one. I couldn’t sleep that night. I tossed and turned in agony. I felt the weight of all the ebooks in the world as if they had been printed out on top of my chest.

Then in a moment of clarity, it dawned on me. I had never felt so woke. The answer was obvious, and I knew it was right because it was so simple.

The Solution: Booklet

In truth, most marketing ebooks are of a length that would be better defined as booklets. Booklet is one word with a small character count and no room for conflicting interpretations of hyphen use or capitalization.

Besides, it has a nice ring to it, “Read Our Free Booklet”.

If the length is too great to be called a booklet, just call it a book. The age of internet related prefixes is dead. We no longer need to differentiate between internet related things and non-internet related things.

In fact, marketing booklets should not be designed to be exclusively digital. We should also be using them as hard copies for events and direct mail.

Still, you may read this and think, “I agree, but I can’t do anything about it”. Yes, you can. This change will come from the bottom, not from the top. When marketers start this trend, the industry will follow. I promise you, nobody is going to want to be known for, “still calling it an ebook”.

I always figured if I can do one little thing to benefit humanity my life would be fulfilled. Maybe killing the ebook is that thing.

About John O'Toole

John O'Toole is a senior PPC manager focused on paid search and display campaigns for B2B companies. He also develops automated reporting and dashboard solutions that combine search, social, SEO, CRM and MAP data for all of our clients. View all John O'Toole’s posts >