Before the invention of eBooks, mankind had to use a physical medium for writing. The ancients used scrolls and tablets, while latter cultures relied on bound books. Even today, books remain quite popular. However, with electronic books things have changed. Book lovers can now download their favorite titles and read them on a computer. A physical book is not required, which makes the eBook an exciting innovation in the world of reading.
Now to understand how the eBook has evolved, one must look at its history. The first eBook was created in 1971 by Michael Hart. He reproduced the Declaration of Independence, a work that jumpstarted Project Gutenberg. This was an online network geared towards distributing free eBooks. It exists even today, and it offers over 20,000 titles. Anyway, from that year forward, the eBook was born. However, it was not widely used until the 90s, when the Internet became more accessible. In fact, some ISPs capitalized on the concept. Prodigy distributed The Baby Sitter’s Club in a graphical eBook format. AOL offered a channel where beginning writers could share their works. There were also channels where readers could access digitized versions of magazines and newspapers.
In the meantime, Internet marketers and professional authors distributed their works through private websites. The only downside was the format. If the eBook was not a Word file, it had to be distributed with proprietary software. This limited the eBook’s audience.
Things changed when the PDF format became popular. While PDF files did require Adobe Acrobat, they gave the eBook some consistency. Readers did not have to download dozens of programs to read a set of books. Now only 1 was needed; Adobe Acrobat itself. Once it was downloaded, readers could treat themselves to a different kind of eBooks; one that had text and graphics housed in very small file. True, Word files also had that capacity, but you would have to pay $100 or more for a copy of the software. Adobe Acrobat was distributed for free.
In any case, as PDF files became more popular, so did eBook stores. In 2000, Clickbank revolutionized the industry by offering a publishing platform for unknown authors; one in which they could actually make money with their eBooks. Shortly thereafter, self-publishing networks like Lulu and Createspace would follow Clickbank’s example. Through these sites, authors could distribute both virtual and physical copies of their book without any upfront fees.
As eBooks continue to evolve, the main goal is to take them off the computer and onto devices that are more portable. The first such device was the Rocket eBook, released in 1998. For its time it was very promising. It could hold 10 eBooks without any added memory. However, its limited selection and high price tag was a turn off to readers. They did not understand why they should pay that much for an e-reader, when they can do the same thing with a PDA. It was cheaper and more versatile.
eBooks and their rapid development
People changed their mind in 2007, when the Amazon Kindle was released. While it was still expensive, it could hold hundreds of eBooks at a time. In addition, readers could download more books by connecting to Whispernet, a 3G service specially designed for the Kindle. These features, along with a recommendation from Oprah, caused the device to be sold out in 2008. Since that time, three additional Kindles have been released. The Kindle DX, (the brand’s current version), can hold 3,500 eBooks. It also uses e-Ink, a technology that creates turnable “pages” on the screen. This helps transforms eBooks into a codex format, which is what people are used to when reading traditional books.
Other manufacturers are also looking into the power of eBooks. Just recently, Nintendo released a set of classic books for the DS system. All of them used e-Ink technology. There are also eBooks for mobile phones, especially in Japan. These versions are paid for by each chapter. In the United States, readers pay for an entire eBook, which can be directly uploaded onto their cell phones.
In conclusion, eBooks are a wonderful invention. Through them, you can read hundreds of pages of text without ever opening a real book. For authors, the technology allows them to share their works without the scrutiny of a publisher. Even the Earth benefits, as eBooks are not made from trees or other elements of nature. Indeed, the benefits are endless which is why eBooks will never go out of style. As long as mankind uses computers for communication, eBooks will always remain popular.