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Ebooks - Past, present and future - Essay Example

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The history of printed book is inseparably linked to the name of Johannes Gutenberg, a German who invented the printing press in the end of 15th century. Since that time books became widely spread over Europe, and the printing technology continued to evolve making printed sources less and less costly and, therefore, more and more popular…
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Download file to see previous pages The onset of digital technology and electronic books inspired many experts to predict the decline of conventional media and their full replacement by the new rival. A bright example of such predictions is the following statement made 17 years ago by a well-known scientist: "By the turn of the century, paper will satisfy less than 5 percent of the total commerce in information. Although education and entertainment have their own migratory paths and rates, the objective will be the same: paper is going to be replaced with electronic media" (Kounta, 1992, p.39). However, the developments that have occurred up to now suggest that there are still many uncertainties regarding whether the potential of e-Books as replacement of printed sources will ever be fulfilled.
Although e-Books are commonly perceived as one of the newest developments in computer and information technology their history can be traced to the early 1970s. In the beginning of 1970, Michael Hart who worked at the Materials Research Labs at the University of Illinois adopted the belief that the true value of computing devices would not be in storage, retrieval, and searching of libraries instead of mere computations. In order to foster the process Hart started to create electronic versions of famous texts: the first electronic book created by him was the Declaration of Independence (Hart, 1992). Thus, Hart laid the foundation of the famous Project Gutenberg, the first publisher of e-Books that exist up to now as one of the largest and most popular free e-Book libraries.
In the 1970s, when even television was still a developing technology Hart's idea seemed too futurist, but twenty years later when the Internet started its spread across the world it became reality and led to emergence of numerous stores and libraries offering various electronic texts online. Many companies working in the market of printed media invested seriously in the new segment giving new life to the predictions that digital matters would soon replace conventional printed sources (Kozak, 2003).
However, in the beginning of this decade the potential of e-Book technology was put in question due to bankruptcies of many large companies that invested substantially in electronic publishing with netLibrary and Reciprocal being the most known among them. Furthermore, unacceptably low sales of e-Book readers as well as electronic texts forced many experts to claim the e-Book technology was rapidly approaching collapse (Reid, 2002). However, despite seemingly bleak perspectives, many publishers and developers still maintained the belief in great future of e-Books and continued work in this direction. As a result, very soon profits and sales started to rise noticeably. For example, in 2001, Palm Digital Media, a large e-book publishing company, reported 180 thousand plus sales of e-book downloads, representing a 40% increase in unit volume from the previous year (Kozak, 2003). Similarly, Fictionwise.com, another large publisher of electronic texts, reported more than 100 thousand sales of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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