The Evolution of eBooks

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With an array of options when it comes to books in a virtual form, from Amazon’s Kindle to Apple’s iBook’s, we thought we’d take you through a timeline of the evolution of eBooks in celebration of World Book Day and discover just how they came about!

There is a clear divide between those of us that prefer books in their physical form and the rest of us that prefer to have our lives on our desktops, smartphones, or laptops and so, add books to the list of things we prefer in digital form.

Last year we saw the sales of eBooks declining for the first time in four years and with that, came the rise in sales for printed books. With the first book being invented around 5000 years ago it’s clear they are both giving each other stiff competition with no signs of either letting up, so let’s take a look at how the eBook took form.

1949- Angela Ruiz Robles

The beginnings of the eBook surprisingly, came about in 1949 in Spain. Prior to the eReaders that we all love today was invented; Angela Ruiz Robles came up with the notion of an eReader which she called a ‘mechanical encyclopedia’. She thought of the idea in order to save children the trouble of having to carry around multiple text books. Unfortunately, she did not get the funding required for her invention to see the light of day.

1971- Michael S. Hart and ‘Project Gutenberg’

The first book ever produced in digital form was by Michael S. Hart, gaining him the title of ‘The inventor of the eBook’. The movement called Project Gutenberg was an impressive volunteer effort to make a free digital library which contained public domain books. He was given unlimited computer time, and with his efforts, he entered text manually creating the eBook. The first book typed up was the declaration of independence, a significant moment in the evolution of eBooks.

2000- ‘Riding the Bullet’

Stephen King’s ‘Riding the Bullet’ was the first eBook to be published for the masses and managed to sell 400,000 copies within the first day, with a wait time of hours for people to be able to download the book due to the amount of traffic.

2004- The Sony Librie

In the Late April of 2004, we saw Sony release the Librie, It was the first of its kind as they managed to invent the first eBook which used electronic ink, revolutionising eBooks with people being able to read in any light, however the Librie was only available in Japan.

2007- The Kindle

On November 19th 2007, the Kindle was born; it sold out in hours and was initially only rolled out in the US. With a black and white 6 inch display and only 250mb of storage it was a stark contrast to the Kindle we see today.

2009: The Kindle goes global

We had to wait another two years before we could get our hands on the Kindle as it only made its way over the pond in 2009. The Kindle was launched in the UK along with another 100 countries.

The evolutionary possibilities are endless with the initial creation of eBooks having a clear focus on making the digital form as similar as possible to the physical books; however this is now something that we can see changing with the addition of audio and video enhancements. We are yet to see just how far the evolution of eBooks will go.

It’s clear to see that the eBook has come a long way but its appeal is undisputable, with eBooks and tablets allowing us to read whilst commuting and travelling. Despite the matter of eBooks still being significantly more expensive compared to printed books they are still in demand and the continued evolution of eBooks is inevitable as they are digitising the world one book at a time.

Are you team eBook or more of a printed book person? Let us know in the comments section below.

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