There are lots of advantages to using eBooks instead of paper books. If you are affected by cancer, you may find reading an eBook rather than a printed booklet or web page particularly helpful. In this blog, content channel editor Lucy explains why eBooks are helpful, and tells you how we make them.

What are eBooks?
An eBook is an electronic version of a regular paper book. The text is displayed digitally, which allows the book to be read off a computer screen or handheld device, such as a Kindle, tablet or smartphone. These are known as e-readers. eBooks contain pages number, a table of contents, and images, just like regular books.

Why should I use eBooks?
There are many advantages of using eBooks, including:

  • The speed – eBooks can be downloaded immediately, so you can start reading instantly and get the information you want straight away.
  • Accessibility – you can adjust the font and size of text to suit you. You can also change the brightness of the screen on many e-readers, allowing you to read easily at night time or outside.
  • Privacy – reading an eBook gives you privacy if you don’t feel comfortable showing what you are reading to people around you.
  • Mobility – eBooks are easy to travel with as they are so slim and light that they can easily fit in your luggage or handbag.
  • Convenience - You can store hundreds of books on your e-reader – great for journeys or hospital stays.

Macmillan has eBooks?
Yes, that’s right! We produce our cancer information booklets and leaflets in eBook format, so if you’d prefer to read our cancer information on your device, they are available to download free from the Macmillan website. We have a whole range of eBooks providing information on various cancer types, treatment, your finances, and many many more.

This image shows the front covers of eight information resources that we produce in eBook format: Gardening as a way to keep active, Going home from hospital, Healthy eating and cancer, Heart health and cancer treatment, Help with the cost of cancer, Holistic needs assessment, How are you feeling? The emotional effects of cancer, and Life after cancer treatment

How do you make eBooks?
Once an information booklet has been send to print, the information is used to build an eBook. The following steps are carried out to transform the printed booklet into an eBook:

1. The text is made suitable for an eBook and formatted with the correct headings to match the printed booklets.

2. Digital links, known as hyperlinks, are added into the text. When the reader clicks on the hyperlink, it will take them to other areas in the eBook. External links are also added in, which take the reader directly to websites on their device, if they would like more information.

This image shows a sample of eBook text with the hyperlinked words formatted as bold and in green font.

3. Quotes from people affected by cancer, which appear in the printed booklets, are also added into the eBook. 

This image shows how quotes are displayed in eBooks. There is a light green panel with the words of the quote in white font inside the panel.

4. Medical illustrations and images are then added to the eBook. The illustrations contain long descriptions, that the e-reader can read aloud, for anybody who has difficulty reading or would like the diagram explained in more detail.

This image shows an example of an illustration in an eBook. It is in a colour illustration of the outside of the heart. There is a caption above the illustration and labels around it.

5. The eBook cover is created, and added to the eBook. The cover is the same design as the printed version of the booklet. This will appear on your downloaded eBook.

This image shows the front cover of our Heart health and cancer treatment booklet and eBook. It has the title in green bubble writing and a photo of a bowl of apples below.

6. Stylesheets are added to the eBook, which determine the presentation of the eBook. The eBook is converted into various formats – EPUB, mobi and PDF. These are uploaded to the Macmillan website and can be downloaded for your device. Different devices support different formats, so once you know what format your device supports, then you download away!

I can’t find what I need?
We are constantly adding newly updated eBooks to our online collection, so keep coming back to see what titles we have available. If you’d like to see an existing publication turned into an alternative format, please email to request it.

To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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