An electronic book (or e-book) is a book publication made available in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on the flat-panel display of computers or other electronic devices. Although sometimes defined as "an electronic version of a printed book", some e-books exist without a printed equivalent. Commercially produced and sold e-books are usually intended to be read on dedicated e-reader devices. However, almost any sophisticated computer device that features a controllable viewing screen can also be used to read e-books, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
In the 2000s, there was a trend of print and e-book sales moving to the Internet, where readers buy traditional paper books and e-books on websites using e-commerce systems. With print books, readers are increasingly browsing through images of the covers of books on publisher or bookstore websites and selecting and ordering titles online; the paper books are then delivered to the reader by mail or another delivery service. With e-books, users can browse through titles online, and then when they select and order titles, the e-book can be sent to them online or the user can download the e-book. At the start of 2012 in the U.S., more e-books were published online than were distributed in hardcover.
The main reasons that people are buying e-books online are possibly lower prices, increased comfort (as they can buy from home or on the go with mobile devices) and a larger selection of titles. With e-books, "[e]lectronic bookmarks make referencing easier, and e-book readers may allow the user to annotate pages." "Although fiction and non-fiction books come in e-book formats, technical material is especially suited for e-book delivery because it can be [electronically] searched" for keywords. In addition, for programming books, code examples can be copied. E-book reading is increasing in the U.S.; by 2014, 28% of adults had read an e-book, compared to 23% in 2013. This is increasing, because by 2014 50% of American adults had an e-reader or a tablet, compared to 30% owning such devices in 2013.
E-books are also referred to as "ebooks", "eBooks", "e-Books", "e-journals", "e-editions" or as "digital books". The devices that are designed specifically for reading e-books are called "e-readers", "ebook device" or "eReaders".
The idea of an e-reader that would enable a reader to view books on a screen came to Bob Brown after watching his first "talkie" (movie with sound). In 1930, he wrote a book on this idea and titled it The Readies, playing off the idea of the "talkie". In his book, Brown says movies have outmaneuvered the book by creating the "talkies" and, as a result, reading should find a new medium: "A machine that will allow us to keep up with the vast volume of print available today and be optically pleasing". Although Brown came up with the idea intellectually in the 1930s, early commercial e-readers did not follow his model. Nevertheless, Brown in many ways predicted what e-readers would become and what they would mean to the medium of reading. In an article, Jennifer Schuessler writes, "The machine, Brown argued, would allow readers to adjust the type size, avoid paper cuts and save trees, all while hastening the day when words could be ‘recorded directly on the palpitating ether.’" He felt the e-reader should bring a completely new life to the medium of reading. Schuessler relates it to a DJ spinning bits of old songs to create a beat or an entirely new song as opposed to just a remix of a familiar song.
The inventor of the first e-book is not widely agreed upon. Some notable candidates include the following:
In 1949, Ángela Ruiz Robles, a teacher from Galicia, Spain, patented in her country the first electronic book reader, the Enciclopedia Mecánica, or the Mechanical Encyclopedia. Her idea behind the device was to decrease the number of books that her pupils carried to the school.
The first e-book may be the Index Thomisticus, a heavily annotated electronic index to the works of Thomas Aquinas, prepared by Roberto Busa beginning in 1949 and completed in the 1970s. Although originally stored on a single computer, a distributable CD-ROM version appeared in 1989. However, this work is sometimes omitted; perhaps because the digitized text was a means to studying written texts and developing linguistic concordances, rather than as a published edition in its own right. In 2005, the Index was published online.
Alternatively, some historians consider electronic books to have started in the early 1960s, with the NLS project headed by Doug Engelbart at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), and the Hypertext Editing System and FRESS projects headed by Andries van Dam at Brown University. Augment ran on specialized hardware, while FRESS ran on IBM mainframes. FRESS documents were structure-oriented rather than line-oriented, and were formatted dynamically for different users, display hardware, window sizes, and so on, as well as having automated tables of contents, indexes, and so on. All these systems also provided extensive hyperlinking, graphics, and other capabilities. Van Dam is generally thought to have coined the term "electronic book", and it was established enough to use in an article title by 1985.
FRESS was used for reading extensive primary texts online, as well as for annotation and online discussions in several courses, including English Poetry and Biochemistry. Brown faculty made extensive use of FRESS; for example the philosopher Roderick Chisholm used it to produce several of his books. Thus in the Preface to Person and Object (1979) he writes "The book would not have been completed without the epoch-making File Retrieval and Editing System..." Brown University's work in electronic book systems continued for many years, including US Navy funded projects for electronic repair-manuals; a large-scale distributed hypermedia system known as InterMedia; a spinoff company Electronic Book Technologies that built DynaText, the first SGML-based e-reader system; and the Scholarly Technology Group's extensive work on the Open eBook standard.
Despite the extensive earlier history, several publications report Michael S. Hart as the inventor of the e-book. In 1971, the operators of the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois gave Hart extensive computer-time. Seeking a worthy use of this resource, he created his first electronic document by typing the United States Declaration of Independence into a computer in plain text. Hart planned to create documents using plain text to make them as easy as possible to download and view on devices.
After Hart first adapted the Declaration of Independence into an electronic document in 1971, Project Gutenberg was launched to create electronic copies of more texts - especially books. Another early e-book implementation was the desktop prototype for a proposed notebook computer, the Dynabook, in the 1970s at PARC: a general-purpose portable personal computer capable of displaying books for reading. In 1980 the US Department of Defense began concept development for a portable electronic delivery device for technical maintenance information called project PEAM, the Portable Electronic Aid for Maintenance. Detailed specifications were completed in FY 82, and prototype development began with Texas Instruments that same year. Four prototypes were produced and delivered for testing in 1986. Tests were completed in 1987. The final summary report was produced by the US Army research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences in 1989 authored by Robert Wisher and J. Peter Kincaid. A patent application for the PEAM device was submitted by Texas Instruments titled "Apparatus for delivering procedural type instructions" was submitted Dec 4, 1985 listing John K. Harkins and Stephen H. Morriss as inventors.
In 1992, Sony launched the Data Discman, an electronic book reader that could read e-books that were stored on CDs. One of the electronic publications that could be played on the Data Discman was called The Library of the Future. Early e-books were generally written for specialty areas and a limited audience, meant to be read only by small and devoted interest groups. The scope of the subject matter of these e-books included technical manuals for hardware, manufacturing techniques, and other subjects. In the 1990s, the general availability of the Internet made transferring electronic files much easier, including e-books.
As e-book formats emerged and proliferated, some garnered support from major software companies, such as Adobe with its PDF format that was introduced in 1993. Different e-readers followed different formats, most of them specializing in only one format, thereby fragmenting the e-book market even more. Due to the exclusiveness and limited readerships of e-books, the fractured market of independent publishers and specialty authors lacked consensus regarding a standard for packaging and selling e-books. However, in the late 1990s, a consortium formed to develop the Open eBook format as a way for authors and publishers to provide a single source-document which many book-reading software and hardware platforms could handle. Open eBook as defined required subsets of XHTML and CSS; a set of multimedia formats (others could be used, but there must also be a fallback in one of the required formats), and an XML schema for a "manifest", to list the components of a given e-book, identify a table of contents, cover art, and so on. This format led to the open format EPUB. Google Books has converted many public domain works to this open format.
In 2010, e-books continued to gain in their own specialist and underground markets. Many e-book publishers began distributing books that were in the public domain. At the same time, authors with books that were not accepted by publishers offered their works online so they could be seen by others. Unofficial (and occasionally unauthorized) catalogs of books became available on the web, and sites devoted to e-books began disseminating information about e-books to the public. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. Consumer e-book publishing market are controlled by the "Big Five". The "Big Five" publishers include: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.
US Libraries began providing free e-books to the public in 1998 through their websites and associated services, although the e-books were primarily scholarly, technical or professional in nature, and could not be downloaded. In 2003, libraries began offering free downloadable popular fiction and non-fiction e-books to the public, launching an E-book lending model that worked much more successfully for public libraries. The number of library e-book distributors and lending models continued to increase over the next few years. From 2005 to 2008 libraries experienced 60% growth in e-book collections. In 2010, a Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study found that 66% of public libraries in the US were offering e-books, and a large movement in the library industry began seriously examining the issues related to lending e-books, acknowledging a tipping point of broad e-book usage.
However, some publishers and authors have not endorsed the concept of electronic publishing, citing issues with user demand, copyright piracy and challenges with proprietary devices and systems. In a survey of interlibrary loan librarians it was found that 92% of libraries held e-books in their collections and that 27% of those libraries had negotiated interlibrary loan rights for some of their e-books. This survey found significant barriers to conducting interlibrary loan for e-books. Demand-driven acquisition (DDA) has been around for a few years in public libraries, which allows vendors to streamline the acquisition process by offering to match a library's selection profile to the vendor's e-book titles. The library's catalog is then populated with records for all the e-books that match the profile. The decision to purchase the title is left to the patrons, although the library can set purchasing conditions such as a maximum price and purchasing caps so that the dedicated funds are spent according to the library's budget. The 2012 meeting of the Association of American University Presses included a panel on patron-drive acquisition (PDA) of books produced by university presses based on a preliminary report by Joseph Esposito, a digital publishing consultant who has studied the implications of PDA with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Although the demand for e-book services in libraries has grown in the decades of the 2000s and 2010s, difficulties keep libraries from providing some e-books to clients. Publishers will sell e-books to libraries, but they only give libraries a limited license to the title in most cases. This means the library does not own the electronic text but that they can circulate it either for a certain period of time or for a certain number of check outs, or both. When a library purchases an e-book license, the cost is at least three times what it would be for a personal consumer. E-book licenses are more expensive than paper-format editions because publishers are concerned that an e-book that is sold could theoretically be read and/or checked out by a huge number of users, which could adversely affect sales.
The Internet Archive and Open Library offer over 6,000,000 fully accessible public domain e-books. Project Gutenberg has over 52,000 freely available public domain e-books.
An e-reader, also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading e-books and digital periodicals. An e-reader is similar in form, but more limited in purpose than a tablet. In comparison to tablets, many e-readers are better than tablets for reading because they are more portable, have better readability in sunlight and have longer battery life. In July 2010, online bookseller Amazon.com reported sales of e-books for its proprietary Kindle outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever during the second quarter of 2010, saying it sold 140 e-books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there was no digital edition. By January 2011, e-book sales at Amazon had surpassed its paperback sales. In the overall US market, paperback book sales are still much larger than either hardcover or e-book; the American Publishing Association estimated e-books represented 8.5% of sales as of mid-2010, up from 3% a year before. At the end of the first quarter of 2012, e-book sales in the United States surpassed hardcover book sales for the first time.
In Canada, The Sentimentalists won the prestigious national Giller Prize. Owing to the small scale of the novel's independent publisher, the book was initially not widely available in printed form, but the e-book edition became the top-selling title for Kobo devices in 2010. Until late 2013, use of an e-reader was not allowed on airplanes during takeoff and landing. In November 2013, the FAA allowed use of e-readers on airplanes at all times if it is in Airplane Mode, which means all radios turned off, and Europe followed this guidance the next month. In 2014, the New York Times predicted that by 2018 e-books will make up over 50% of total consumer publishing revenue in the United States and Great Britain.
Some of the major book retailers and multiple third-party developers offer free (and in some third-party cases, premium paid) e-reader software applications (apps) for the Mac and PC computers as well as for Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone and Palm OS devices to allow the reading of e-books and other documents independently of dedicated e-book devices. Examples are apps for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks, Kobo eReader and Sony Reader.
Writers and publishers have many formats to choose from when publishing e-books. Each format has advantages and disadvantages. The most popular e-readers and their natively supported formats are shown below:
|Reader||Native e-book formats|
|Amazon Kindle and Fire tablets||AZW, AZW3, KF8, non-DRM MOBI, PDF, PRC, TXT|
|Barnes & Noble Nook and Nook Tablet||EPUB, PDF|
|Apple iPad||EPUB, IBA (Multitouch books made via iBooks Author), PDF|
|Sony Reader||EPUB, PDF, TXT, RTF, DOC, BBeB|
|Kobo eReader and Kobo Arc||EPUB, PDF, TXT, RTF, HTML, CBR (comic), CBZ (comic)|
|PocketBook Reader and PocketBook Touch||EPUB DRM, EPUB, PDF DRM, PDF, FB2, FB2.ZIP, TXT, DJVU, HTM, HTML, DOC, DOCX, RTF, CHM, TCR, PRC (MOBI)|
Most e-book publishers do not warn their customers about the possible implications of the digital rights management tied to their products. Generally, they claim that digital rights management is meant to prevent illegal copying of the e-book. However in many cases, it is also possible that digital rights management will result in the complete denial of access by the purchaser to the e-book. The e-books sold by most major publishers and electronic retailers, which are Amazon.com, Google, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Inc. and Apple Inc., are DRM-protected and tied to the publisher's e-reader software or hardware. The first major publisher to omit DRM was Tor Books, one of the largest publishers of science fiction and fantasy, in 2012. Smaller e-book publishers such as O'Reilly Media, Carina Press and Baen Books had already forgone DRM previously.
Some e-books are produced simultaneously with the production of a printed format, as described in electronic publishing, though in many instances they may not be put on sale until later. Often, e-books are produced from pre-existing hard-copy books, generally by document scanning, sometimes with the use of robotic book scanners, having the technology to quickly scan books without damaging the original print edition. Scanning a book produces a set of image files, which may additionally be converted into text format by an OCR program. Occasionally, as in some projects, an e-book may be produced by re-entering the text from a keyboard. Sometimes only the electronic version of a book is produced by the publisher. It is possible to release an e-book chapter by chapter as each chapter is written. This is useful in fields such as information technology where topics can change quickly in the months that it takes to write a typical book. It is also possible to convert an electronic book to a printed book by print on demand. However, these are exceptions as tradition dictates that a book be launched in the print format and later if the author wishes an electronic version is produced. The New York Times keeps a list of best-selling e-books, for both fiction and non-fiction.
All of the e-readers and reading apps are capable of tracking e-book reading data, and the data could contain which e-books users open, how long the users spend reading each e-book and how much of each e-book is finished. In December 2014, Kobo released e-book reading data collected from over 21 million of its users worldwide. Some of the results were that only 44.4% of UK readers finished the bestselling e-book The Goldfinch and the 2014 top selling e-book in the UK, "One Cold Night", was finished by 69% of readers; this is evidence that while popular e-books are being completely read, some e-books are only sampled.
In the space that a comparably sized print book takes up, an e-reader can contain thousands of e-books, limited only by its memory capacity. Depending on the device, an e-book may be readable in low light or even total darkness. Many e-readers have a built-in light source, can enlarge or change fonts, use text-to-speech software to read the text aloud for visually impaired, elderly or dyslexic people or just for convenience. Additionally, e-readers allow readers to look up words or find more information about the topic immediately using an online dictionary. Amazon has reported that 85% of its readers look up a word while reading.
Printed books use three times more raw materials and 78 times more water to produce when compared to e-books. While an e-reader costs more than most individual books, e-books usually have a lower cost than paper books. E-books may be printed for less than the price of traditional books using on-demand book printers. Moreover, numerous e-books are available online free of charge. For example, all books printed before 1923 are in the public domain.
Depending on possible digital rights management, e-books (unlike physical books) can be backed up and recovered in the case of loss or damage to the device on which they are stored, and it may be possible to recover a new copy without incurring an additional cost from the distributor, as well as to synchronize the reading location, highlights and bookmarks across several devices.
There may be a lack of privacy for the user's e-book reading activities; for example, Amazon knows the user's identity, what the user is reading, whether the user has finished the book, what page the user is on, how long the user has spent on each page, and which passages the user may have highlighted. One obstacle to wide adoption of the e-book is that a large portion of people value the printed book as an object itself, including aspects such as the texture, smell, weight and appearance on the shelf. Print books are also considered valuable cultural items, and symbols of liberal education and the humanities. Kobo found that 60% of e-books that are purchased from their e-book store are never opened and found that the more expensive the book is, the more likely the reader would at least open the e-book.
Joe Queenan has written about the pros and cons of e-books:
Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who like to read on the subway, or who do not want other people to see how they are amusing themselves, or who have storage and clutter issues, but they are useless for people who are engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on.
While a paper book is vulnerable to various threats, including theft, water damage and mold, e-books files may be corrupted, deleted or otherwise lost as well as pirated. As well, whereas the ownership of a paper book is fairly straightforward (albeit subject to restrictions on renting or copying the paper pages, depending on the book), the owner of an e-book's digital file may have access to the digital text withdrawn due to digital rights management provisions, the provider's business failing or other file access issues.
In 2015, the Author Earnings Report estimates that Amazon holds a 74% market share of the e-books sold in the US.
In 2013, Carrenho estimates that e-books would have a 15% market share in Spain in 2015.
According to Nielsen Book Research, e-book share went from 20% to 33% between 2012 and 2014, but down to 29% in the first quarter of 2015. Amazon-published and self-published titles accounted for 17 million of those books - worth £58m – in 2014, representing 5% of the overall book market and 15% of the digital market. The volume and value sales are similar to 2013 but up 70% since 2012.
The Wischenbart Report 2015 estimates the e-book market share to be 4.3%.
The Brazilian e-book market is only emerging. Brazilians are technology savvy, and that attitude is shared by the government. In 2013, around 2.5% of all trade titles sold were in digital format. This was a 400% growth over 2012 when only 0.5% of trade titles were digital. In 2014, the growth was slower, Brazil had 3.5% of its trade titles being sold as e-books.
The Wischenbart Report 2015 estimates the e-book market share to be around 1%.
Digital publishing and print on demand have significantly reduced the cost of producing a book.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Electronic books.|
E-book digital distribution platforms
العربية كتاب إلكتروني ▪ Azərbaycanca Elektron kitab (sənəd) ▪ বাংলা ই-বুক ▪ Български Електронна книга ▪ Boarisch E-Buach ▪ Bosanski E-knjiga ▪ Català Llibre electrònic ▪ Čeština Ebook ▪ Cymraeg E-lyfr ▪ Dansk E-bog ▪ Deutsch E-Book ▪ Eesti E-raamat ▪ Ελληνικά Ηλεκτρονικό βιβλίο ▪ Español Libro electrónico ▪ Esperanto Bitlibro ▪ Euskara Liburu elektroniko ▪ فارسی کتاب الکترونیک ▪ Français Livre numérique ▪ Frysk E-boek ▪ Furlan E-libri ▪ Gaeilge Ríomhleabhar ▪ Galego Libro electrónico ▪ 한국어 전자책 ▪ हिन्दी ई-पुस्तक ▪ Hrvatski E-knjiga ▪ Bahasa Indonesia Buku elektronik ▪ Íslenska Rafbók ▪ Italiano Ebook ▪ עברית ספר אלקטרוני ▪ Қазақша Электронды кітап (құжат) ▪ Kurdî E-pirtûk ▪ ລາວ ປຶ້ມເອເລັກໂຕຣນິກ ▪ Latina Liber electronicus ▪ Latviešu Elektroniskā grāmata ▪ Lietuvių Skaitmeninė knyga ▪ Magyar E-könyv ▪ Македонски Е-книга ▪ മലയാളം ഇ ബുക്ക് ▪ Bahasa Melayu E-buku ▪ မြန်မာဘာသာ အီလက်ထရွန်းနစ်စာအုပ် ▪ Nederlands E-boek ▪ 日本語 電子書籍 ▪ Norsk bokmål E-bok ▪ Polski E-book ▪ Português Livro digital ▪ Română E-book ▪ Русский Электронная книга ▪ Scots E-beuk ▪ Simple English E-book ▪ سنڌي برقي-ڪتاب ▪ Slovenčina Elektronická kniha ▪ Slovenščina Elektronska knjiga ▪ Српски / srpski Електронска књига ▪ Srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски E-knjiga ▪ Suomi Sähkökirja ▪ Svenska E-bok ▪ தமிழ் மின்னூல் ▪ Татарча/tatarça Электрон китап ▪ తెలుగు ఈ-పుస్తకం ▪ ไทย หนังสืออิเล็กทรอนิกส์ ▪ Тоҷикӣ Китоби электронӣ ▪ Türkçe E-kitap ▪ Українська Електронна книга ▪ اردو برقی کتاب ▪ Tiếng Việt Sách điện tử ▪ ייִדיש עלעקטראנישער בוך ▪ 中文 電子書 ▪