There’s no doubt that ebooks have gone mainstream. Orbit are releasing extremely popular mainstream titles for $1, new websites promoting new ebook releases are going great guns and some fantastic online ebook stores are really gaining momentum. In the US Amazon is making huge waves with its Kindle ebook program, especially recently with the relesase of the Kindle 2 ebook reader. Once Amazon manages to roll out the Kindle experience a bit more globally we’ll see another spike in ebook popularity. Meanwhile, the Sony Reader, the iPhone and other handheld devices are becoming increasingly popular as reading devices all over the world.

The “real” book, that glorious sheaf of bound paper pages containing the magic of a story, will never go away completely. There will always be bibliophiles out there that just love the feel of a proper book. I’m one of them. But I also love the idea of having a handheld device that contains dozens, if not hundreds, of books that I can read whenever I want to.

While real books will never disappear, I really do think that ebooks will soon become the mainstream and the majority of people will be reading their books electronically on their favourite device. The convergence of ebook formats and ereader compatability is the current hurdle, but industry standards are quickly settling. Meanwhile, sites like Smashwords produce every book that they stock in a variety of formats to suit the preferred reading habits of the customer. That’s why I use them.

Recognising this massive swell of ebook popularity, this coming week, 8th to 14th March 2009, is Read An E-Book Week. Here’s the official website.

For my part, to celebrate Read An E-Book Week, I’m releasing my second novel, MageSign, as an ebook through Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle. Watch this space for links during the week.

My first novel, RealmShift, is already available as an ebook at Smashwords and on Amazon Kindle. MageSign should hopefully be available in both those places before the end of Read An E-Book Week.

Perhaps the one thing that really needs sorting out now, beyond the file formats, beyond which is the best reader and all that, is the word ebook itself. Should it be ebook, e-book, E-Book, eBook, e-Book… this could go on forever. If anyone is aware of a standard spelling, please let me know.