The Difference Between Digital Books and Ebooks

Most people today, don’t know the difference between a digital book and an ebook. In fact, many people think they are one and the same. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are entirely different species of the same animal.

Digital books

Digital books, sometimes also called electronic books or PDF books, are scanned, digital facsimiles of standard printed, published books. You can think of them as enhanced copies of the actual hard or paperback books we have come to know and love.

When we are talking about the digital version of newer publications, they are pretty much identical to the original. When talking about old or even ancient publication, they are much better than any original you would find on the shelf of your local library. Since they are facsimiles of the original printing, this really increases quality and helps overcome the problems of many older books, such as yellowed pages, stains, see-through or onion skin type paper, colored paper, brown inks, etc. These are scanned pages, not ‘copied’ pages, and the quality of print truly represents a better quality than the print of the original book.

The great majority of digital books come in PDF format, though Amazon offers a Kindle edition, Mobipocket offers the MOBI version, then there is the plain TEXT format, as well as many others.

Digital books are usually far less expensive than their hard or paperback counterparts, and there are hardly ever shipping costs, unless they are delivered on a CD (Compact Disk).


Ebooks are digital books too, but they were designed and written for the internet. Many, if not most ebooks were never officially “published” at all, unless you count posting something on the internet as publishing.

Most ebooks were meant to be written quickly, with little or no expenses except for possibly distribution. The majority are short, almost always less than 100 pages, usually under 50 pages. Some ebooks are literally slapped together in a matter of hours. Often they are little more than several short reports combined together.

Many ebooks are self-help books, or manuals of some kind, though there are some eBook works of history and fiction to be found if you look for them. More often than not, they have little or no literary value, their intentions being the distribution of facts, instructions and/or ideas.

Sometimes you may come across the eBook version of a hard or soft cover book. It will even be called the “ebook version” of whatever book. But if you look closer, you will find that this eBook version is almost always far fewer pages than the original. You may as well call the “ebook version” the “condensed version” of the book.

Though you will find many ebooks in PDF format, much like digital books, but many come as various generic interactive applications. But don’t let the initial attraction of interaction fool you. Even if this sounds like high tech education at first, you will find that there is not much to the promise of interaction. It just disguises the fact that these books are short, technically no more than a few pages, with little to no real practical, and even less academic value.

Last but not least, ebooks are often free or cheap, though you will occasionally find some specialty instruction “programs” costing hundred of dollars.


Technically, ebooks are digital books, though practically there is a big difference. Personally, I usually prefer a digital book to its eBook cousin.

By Thomas A. Retterbush

The Five Levels of Employee Motivation

Employee motivation can be quite a challenge. The decision on how committed an employee will be towards the organization, division or team, depends entirely on the individual. Therefore, the first step to employee motivation is to engage with each individual. Find out what makes him/her tick. The purpose of this article is to know what to look for when you engage with the individual.

Many leaders make the mistake of applying a single motivational strategy to all their employees. The fact of the matter is that different things might motivate different employees. So how do you find the right formula for each employee?

The Loyalty Institute at Aon Consulting did extensive research on employee commitment. They came up with the five drivers of employee motivation, also known as the performance pyramid.

It works a lot like Marslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where the first level of motivational needs first need be satisfied, before a need arise in the next level. It wasn’t intended that way. It just happened to work out like that.

The performance pyramid can provide some wonderful guidance to know what to look for when you engage with your employees. Let’s have a look at the five levels and see how it can help you to find ways to motivate employees.

Level 1: Safety and Security

Along with a physical sense of well-being, there must be a psychological belief that the environment is free of fear, intimidation or harassment.

Level 2: Rewards

Yes, you knew it. Most people won’t come to work tomorrow if they win a big lottery today. This is the perception that the organization attempts to satisfy the employee’s compensation and benefits needs.

Level 3: Affiliation

This is a sense of belonging. It includes being “in the know” and being part of the team. This is also where a difference in personal and organizational values can have a big impact on motivation.

Level 4: Growth

Employees want to have the belief that achievement is taking place. I might feel safe, get all the money I want and feel part of the team. But if there are no growth opportunities, I might think about leaving the company.

Level 5: Work/Life Harmony

This term speaks for itself. Someone might have all the rewards that he/she wants, but he/she will burn out sooner or later if they don’t have the time to spend it on the other things they want.

What Should You Do With These Drivers Of Employee Motivation?

While all five levels are important, the key is to pinpoint where the individuals and the workforce are not having their needs met. Start by offering a safe, secure work environment and equitable compensation and benefits packages. This is the foundation. However, before you launch those new and trendy benefits, engage with each individual and take a good, hard look at the basics. The young smart upstart employee might not be as exited about that benefits program. His needs might be to use that money to buy a new sport scar. The opposite might be true for the 40 something baby boomer.

Some other pointers to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of the five levels of employee motivation when you engage with your employees.
  • Make your own assessment of what the needs of each individual are.
  • Engage with each individual. Explain the different levels and ask them where they find themselves on the pyramid. What are his/her biggest needs?
  • Engage with bigger teams and eventually with the whole organization about these levels of employee motivation.
  • Do something about it. If someone wants growth, give it to him or her. If they want work/life harmony, make a plan. And Ditto for the rest of the drivers.

Earn Cash Back When You Shop Online

Cashback shopping is a growing Internet shopping experience, you not only get all the online discounts, promotional giveaways, free trials & special offers that the company you are buying from normally offer, but you also earn money back, for things that you would be buying anyway!

Cashback websites pay the money earned to members via various payment options (BACS, PayPal or cheque) within a stated time period and this is in cash, not points, so the member can use the money to buy anything they like, not just what a particular retailer wants to offer them, such as you would get with a Nectar Card or Clubcard, or a site that offers you points towards items in their “gift catalogue”.

Cashback shopping in the UK is relatively new, but it is growing, with more sites appearing every week. As 1 in every 10 retail purchases in the UK is now made over the internet (according to figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group), there are certainly good sums of cashback available to claim by clued up consumers.

Cashback sites have clickable links to online retailers that are provided by the retailers through companies called affiliate networks. Many cashback sites have over 1000 links, meaning there’s a great choice of retailers, in many different categories, for you to get cashback from. Many of the well known high street brands are available on cashback websites.

Merchants advertise their products on websites & when a surfer clicks on the ad & then buys the product or service, the retailer pays a fee (commission) to the website owner. You will see these ads all over most of the websites you browse everyday. Cashback Shopping sites act as an interface in between retailers and online shoppers, offering to share that payment with their members. Once an online shopper clicks on the links of the retailers listed on these portals he is redirected to the retailer’s website as normal and upon buying the product, gets the cashback percentage, or flat rate payment promised by the portal for that particular retailer.

You register with your chosen cashback site; the registration allows the website to know which member made which purchase & match the cashback paid from the retailer (via the affiliate network) to their account. You will need to be logged in to the cashback site & choose a retailer you want to buy from. The cashback offer for the retailer will be displayed against the link & will generally be a percentage of your purchase total, (e.g. 5%) or a set amount, (e.g. £30) for a contract mobile phone, or for opening a bank account.

When you click the link to a retailer, you are taken to their site and you make your purchase in the normal way. From the moment you click, the affiliate network will be tracking the transaction using (cookies stored on your PC), which identifies that you clicked on a link from a particular website (i.e. the cashback site). Commissions paid to other websites such as MSN, Yahoo etc. are tracked in exactly the same way, so don’t be wary of the tracking cookie.

Usually within a day or two, the affiliate network reports the transaction back to the cashback site and states how much commission is due to be paid to them. The cash back site then credits your account with a share of this commission (see the site for exactly how much – some sites pay around 50% of the commission earnt, whereas others pay 100% of the commission, but charge an administration fee).

The money becomes payable to you when the commission has been received by the cashback site from the retailer via the affiliate network, but only when you have reached the minimum payout level for the cashback site (again, this varies from site to site). Once both these things happen you can claim your money from the cashback site.

Typically your cash-back from purchases will become confirmed/payable about 2-3 months after the transaction. This is to allow for return of goods etc so that retailers don’t get stung. Uncleared payments usually show as “pending”.

The prices you get via cashback site links are the same prices that everyone else gets. The only difference is that you are getting money back on top & as well as this, you’re usually able to use retailers’ online discount codes in conjunction with cashback offers, making for even greater savings! Most sites will display lists of the special offers & codes that each retailer is offering, without you having to go hunting through the site.

Most of the UK cashback sites are free to join and even give you a sign-up bonus to get you started! They may also pay you an additional bonus if you get friends and family to join up, using a referral link that they give you. There are some sites that don’t do this, but they do claim to pay 100% of the commission they receive from the retailers!

The only restrictions are those the cashback sites set in terms of minimum payout levels, but with just one big-ish purchase (e.g. insurance policy or mobile phone contract) you may exceed this in one go.

Why else might you shop online, other than just for cash back? Well, the top reasons for shopping online include avoiding crowded stores, the availability of lower prices and the wide selection of goods and services available. Basically, you can sit at home, not get stressed by the crowds, still buy what you want, but get it cheaper and choose from a wider selection, not to mention if you use a cashback site, get some of your money back too!

Finally, there’s no limits on the amount of cashback you can earn with cashback sites and with 98% of retailers you can make repeat purchases and get cashback every time!

You can literally start saving money right now, in the next couple of minutes. It won’t cost you anything at all. And you just go on saving year after year. Just think how much money you are going to get back over the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years, just for using a cashback site to buy what you were going to buy anyway!!!

We would suggest that you register with at least one cashback site & then use a comparison site like Kelkoo or Price Runner to find the lowest price, or in the case of insurance, or, but then return to the cashback site to click through to the retailer; that way, you are getting the best price & cashback too!:o)

Beware! As mentioned earlier, the cashback site relies on a tracking code (also sometimes known as a cookie) to record which site you came from & who is entitled to receive their cashback. If you initially visit a retailer through one site & then return to it through the cashback site, you may not get the cashback you expect, because the first cookie is the one used by the affiliate network.

Therefore, before using your cashback site, we recommend removing cookies from your browser, using the tools already built in to your browser, or by using an excellent free piece of software: CCleaner! This ensures that the “click” through the cashback site is the one registered by the affiliate network, not one from a comparison site, who would then get the money & not share it with you!!

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.