An electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book, or even e-editions) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital.
The International Digital Publishing Forum, formerly known as the Open eBook Forum, has created a technical standard for the sale and distribution of electronic books. Dubbed the Open eBook Publication Structure Container Format, the standard was created by a team of interested parties, including Adobe, the DAISY Consortium, eBook Technologies, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Amazon's Mobipocket, netLibrary, OverDrive, Random House, Simon and Schuster, and many others. A significant step forward for the e-book industry, the standard is not without its critics; nevertheless, what the e-book industry still requires is more viable business models and significant buy-in from publishers, some of whom were involved in this long process.
In the first study examining ebook consumption, released in April, the Pew Research Center found that at least 21% of Americans had read an ebook. Eleven percent of people who owned a reading device looked for ebooks at their public library. The number of people who owned e-reader devices spiked after January, a product of the gift-giving season, according to the study.
The Justice Deparment announced in April that it was filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major publishers, saying they had colluded to raise the price of e-books. In 2010, the publishers switched from a wholesale pricing model to an agency model, allowing publishers to set their own prices on e-books. Before that, Amazon had priced newly released and best-selling books at $9.99, angering publishers, who said the steep discount stifled competition and undermined higher hardcover prices.
Digital textbooks are gaining popularity on college campuses across the country. In response, publishers have begun testing the waters for a potential market. Several independent research studies have confirmed that e-book use is on the rise. In the fall of 2011, students in Advertising 409 organized a research survey to gauge students’ interest in e-readers. Most of the anonymous respondents purchased e-readers for portability.
eBook content can be read on a PC, a laptop, a PDA, or a dedicated reading device, in one or more of a growing number of available formats and software applications. With high-resolution font technologies and layout conventions borrowed from the print world, many current eBook platforms emphasize readability and strive to encourage onscreen reading for an extended period of time. Other implementations, such as handheld PCs and dedicated reading devices, emphasize portability.
Although it is not necessary to use a reader application or device in order to read an Ebook (most books can be read as PDF files), they are popular because they enable options similar to those of a paper book - readers can bookmark pages, make notes, highlight passages, and save selected text. In addition to these familiar possibilities, eBook readers also include built-in dictionaries, and alterable font sizes and styles. Typically, an eBook reader hand-held device weighs from about twenty-two ounces to three or four pounds and can store from four thousand to over half a million pages of text and graphics; another popular feature is its back-lit screen (which makes reading in the dark possible).
Amazon began selling the Kindle in 2007 which launched the popularity of the eReader as a consumer electronic device. Although, Amazon did not invent the first eReader; Sony Corporation began selling the Librie eReader device in 2004. It was the Amazon Kindle that really introduced eReaders to the masses.
E-books haven't taken over entirely, though. For the third year in a row, the number of independent bookstores in the United States has increased, from 1,512 to 1,567. And publishers clearly consider the "handselling" those booksellers do an invaluable marketing tool.
The Association of American Publishers released a report today that shows that ebooks have beaten hardcover revenues for the first time. Ebook revenues topped out at $282.3 million YTD while hardcovers hit $229.6. Almost exactly a year ago the tables were turned with ebooks hitting $220 million and hardcovers brushing past $335 million.
In July 2010, Amazon claimed that eBooks were outselling hardback books and accounted for around 8.5% of all books sold. Just six months later, in January 2011, Amazon announced that eBooks now accounted for 45% of all book sales and that eBooks outsold paperback books. For every 100 paperback books that Amazon sold in January 2011, they sold 115 eBooks.