So, according to Nathan Bransford, E-books are a "trend."
But if you're not one of the cool Kindle Kids and you're not getting any "Nook"ie, that doesn't mean you have to feel left out. There's a free program called ereader that you can download in a variety of formats, depending on the device you plan to read on. I've got the PC and palm pilot versions, myself. Those of you with trendier technology can download the Iphone or Blackberry versions if that's your thing.
Now, the files for ereader are .pdb files. You can download commercial .pdb files, of course (including lots of free literary classics), but if you want to create your own ebooks, you'll have to convert the manuscripts to the ereader format.This is easier than you might think.
I love having a copy of my manuscript handy on my palm pilot, and I love reading my crit partners' manuscripts on the go this way. Ebooks also display nicely on the PC (with ereader) when I'm only looking to read, as opposed to adding comments. (I like to read the manuscripts I'm critting straight through once for big-picture feel, then I go back in Word with track changes and all to make my suggestions). ;)
A long time ago, I celebrated my uber-geekiness when I discovered how to use Palm Markup Language to create my own ebooks with formatting, table of contents, etc. PML tags are similar to html code, so if you're comfortable with html, you should be able to pick up PML quickly.
If you want to embrace your own geekiness, there's a tutorial on creating a formatted ebook using a word macro here. But if you can't be bothered with manual formatting, aren't comfortable with macros, and just want a quick-and-dirty text only version, there's an easy program for that through the ereader site: Dropbook.
Once you have ereader installed on your computer, handheld, phone, or whatever, you'll be able to read your converted manuscript on your chosen device. The files are tiny, too, so you can store a lot of them even on devices without much memory.
Here's my ebook for The Edge of Memory displaying on my PC. I used PML code (by placing a \x tag before and after each chapter title in my manuscript) to add a clickable Table of Contents.
I mean, seriously... how cool is that? You can make virtual bookmarks, change the font size, even set the text to autoscroll like movie credits.
Don't get me wrong, I love a flesh-and-blood book as much as the next bibliophile. But this is pretty durned cool, too.