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'What’s the Difference Between an E-Book and a White Paper?'

A client of the sales lead generation firm Find New Customers (and Marketo user) – a software firm in CT, asked me “What’s the difference between white papers and E-books.”

They had white papers they had outsourced in the past, but the term E-book was new and unfamiliar to them. (They were a somewhat junior marketing company.) I explained as best I could the key differences between the two – E-books have shorter length and more graphics, but they still seemed confused. I actually wrote an E-book for them, but I needed a better way to explain the differences. I found it and want to share it with you.

I recently met with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs at Netprospex at the #marketingbfast and got a copy of her book Content Rules. I’ve read it in the past, but when I opened it,  I found Chapter 13 – What’s the Difference Between an E-book and a White Paper. Bingo!

This chapter has a great chart detailing the differences between an e-book and white paper on page 172 which I wish to share with you (and our client.) I also wish to say that it was nice finally meeting Ann and thanks for another copy of the book.

Here are the key differences at a glance from the book. Buy the book and read it too.

White PapersE-books
Long and linear – a deep readBroken into smaller chunks – designed for skimming and scanning
Data centric – often based on formal researchConcept centric – based on ideas and trends of interest
Text-heavyVisually heavy – main text supplemented with call-outs, bullet lists
Formal – impressive expert speaks to you.Casual and collegial – a conversation among equals

Join The Conversation

  • gbardwell's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 4 years ago gbardwell


    I have read many eBooks. Most are designe to tell you either why you should do something or what your should be doing. What about an eBook that tells you not only what, but how to do it? This would make it much longer and be more text focused. However, it is not necessarily data driven. White papers seen to want to sell a product, eBooks a service. Thus, eBook are often short on the how-to part.




  • jefflogden59's picture
    Jul 28 Posted 4 years ago jefflogden59

    Thanks for sharing his post on Social Media Today, but I REALLY appreciate the hundreds sharing on social media too.


    Jeff Ogden


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