Do Ebooks signal the end for Paper Books?
- Data Discman
- The Kindle
- Social networks
There appears to be no universal agreement about the inventor of ebooks or the first ebook reader, but the history of devices designed to display books in various formats other than paper dates back to the 1950s, when Memex, a device that stored books photographed on microfilm and displayed them on a screen, was invented. A portable reading device for students, called DynaBook and invented in 1968, was very much reminiscent of modern-day ereaders (Mironchuk). However, the invention of internet, and specifically Project Gutenberg, can be considered the key influence on the development of ebooks as we know them today.
Project Gutenberg was developed in 1971 by Michael Hart with the objective of making as many public domain literary works as possible available to as many people as possible in electronic versions. The project picked up following the invention of the internet by Tim Berners-Lee and the release of the first web browser Mosaic in 1993, which increased the number of internet users and made it much easier to distribute electronic texts and find volunteers to do the typing work. By 1997 there were 1,000 electronic books on Project Guttenberg website and their numbers continued to increase steadily. Project Guttenberg's significance also lies in the fact that it inspired many similar endeavours (Lebert 5-15). Major electronics manufacturers sporadically released various electronic reading devices throughout the 1990s and 2000s without much commercial success.
[...] They want to be able to post quotations and discuss what they read with other people. ?Reading has evolved into a social experience?, Andrews continues in her post. Specialized socialized networking sites dedicated to reading have greatly contributed to this development. There are a number of those, but Goodreads seem to be the most popular, followed by Shelfari and Twitter. These sites enable their users to rate books, post book reviews, make lists of their favourite books, post their favourite quotations and engage in all sorts of discussions about books (Nations). [...]
[...] It was first introduced by Sony in its Sony Reader in 2006. The eink reduced strain on the eyes and extended battery life considerably, since it required power only to turn the pages, not to keep them displayed. The electronic publishing boom began with Amazon's release of the Kindle, a dedicated electronic reader, in 2007. Its popularity is attributed to its built in wireless connectivity that made it easy to download books directly to the device through the so-called whispernet, as well as to the large selection of books that could be downloaded from the Amazon store (Cummings). [...]