In their great book Content Rules, Ann Handley and CC Chapman describe the difference between an ebook and a white paper as follows… (Page 171)
• Generally aiming to be authoritative
• A deeper read – probably longer
• Often filled with data
• More likely text heavy
• More formal
• Written as an expert
• Often shorter
• Less data
• More visual with diagrams and images
• More casual
• Written for your peers and colleagues
Whilst this is a great comparison and contrast, there is a more important issue here…
What does your audience call them?
If you’re working in the area of academia or professional service firms, white papers might be the term you use. Alternatively, if it’s a more general audience, you might call them ebooks.
And the same applies to the style in which you write. The goal here is how best to communicate your message. If data is your stick go there, if visuals are your thing do that.