QUESTION I've written a book, now in its fourth edition, called Motoring in Spain. I will have it printed as usual, but I'm also considering producing a digital version. If I decide to take that route, I need to know whether it's possible to copy-protect the book, and if all e-readers can support its colour content.
HELPROOM ANSWER Although popular tablets and smartphones are able to display colour e-books, these are often read on black-and-white devices such as Amazon's Kindle range, all of which use E Ink screens. You would be wise to avoid the use of colour diagrams if you want your book to be legible on such devices.
Although you can put in place simple measures to discourage the practice, given enough time and effort all e-books can be copied. Even printed books have been scanned page-by-page and made available for download on peer-to-peer networks.
What's important in this case is whether producing your work as an e-book will be profitable despite this risk.
All major e-book formats incorporate some form of digital rights management, which will dissuade most people from making illicit copies. If your book is worth reading, there will always be those prepared to circumvent such measures to copy it – but not all these copies will amount to a lost sale: many of those who might out of curiosity download a copy are not likely to have paid for the book in the first place.
Appropriately pricing your e-book will also affect whether it's copied. A low price should result in fewer illicit copies and could result in a larger financial return.
If you want to publish your e-book on Amazon, take a look at Kindle Direct Publishing. If you'd like it to be available in Apple's iBookstore, you can start with a bookstore aggregator such as Lulu or Smashwords. These aggregators can get your book published on multiple sites in return for a cut of the profits.