May 22, 2024

Ebook, eBook, ebook or e-book?


By Maeve Maddox

background image 131

I share the concerns of the person who posted this question at Yahoo’s answer page:

I have seen the word “ebook” used in many different ways and would like to know the correct way to type it in a sentence. I have seen it typed ebook, Ebook, eBook, e-book, E-book, etc. Which is correct and when do I write it differently such as if it is a title, or at the beginning of a sentence.

I cannot, however, as apparently the person who asked the question could, accept this Yahoo answer:

Doesn’t really matter as long as someone understands what an e-book is. It’s a fairly new construct, and just as with email, I would argue there is not only one correct way to spell it, as long as your reader knows what you’re talking about.

What nonsense. Of course it matters! It does here, anyway.

I’ve been using the spelling eBook. I think it looks classier than ebook or e-book, but that’s just my opinion. To write this post I went to my usual venerable sources.

The entry in the OED is spelled e-book.

However, on the AskOxford site it’s spelled ebook.

Merriam-Webster favors e-book.

The Chicago Manual of Style has the spelling e-book in its index.

I can’t find it in the Penguin Writer’s Manual, but I do find e-mail, so I infer that they may favor e-book as well.

According to the standard sources, therefore, it looks as if e-book is the spelling to go with.

Or is it?

My favorite, eBook, seems to enjoy a certain popularity in the publishing marketplace.

There’s an online store called

The ad for the Microsoft Reader uses eBook. (However, the spell checker in Word recognizes only e-book as the correct spelling.)

There’s a Sony eBook Store.

Barnes & Noble calls them eBooks.

Maybe these merchants had better clean up their act, not just because the language authorities don’t recognize eBook, but because, just possibly, it’s bad advertising.

I say this because I happened upon an article by Richard Adams in which he describes an Ebook, ebook, and eBook.

According to his results, Ebook and ebook got about the same number of clicks, but eBook was a disaster. His conclusion:

When using pay per click advertising, if your ad contains the word “ebook” never spell it as eBook

I wonder what would have happened if he’d run an ad with the spelling e-book.

So which is it, readers? Ebook, ebook, eBook or e-book? Have your say in our poll. (RSS and e-mail subscribers might need to visit the website to see the poll widget).

Keep learning! Browse the Spelling category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips