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Old 07-21-2013, 02:16 PM   #1
sdive
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e-book vs e-reader features

In connection with some Uni research I'm doing:

Is it possible to talk of e-book features (searchability, highlighting etc) independently of e-readers? From what I'm gathering e-book development was device driven (this is all very new to me ...).

Are e-books commercially available for PC consumption (excluding PDFs and apps)? I mean, could you talk about e-books for PCs before e-readers took off, apart from special interest books and classics/fiction? Again, what's coming thru is that the e-book market is mainly for dedicated readers or tablets, sometimes smartphones.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdive View Post
In connection with some Uni research I'm doing:

Is it possible to talk of e-book features (searchability, highlighting etc) independently of e-readers? From what I'm gathering e-book development was device driven (this is all very new to me ...).

Are e-books commercially available for PC consumption (excluding PDFs and apps)? I mean, could you talk about e-books for PCs before e-readers took off, apart from special interest books and classics/fiction? Again, what's coming thru is that the e-book market is mainly for dedicated readers or tablets, sometimes smartphones.

Thanks in advance.
I think the bolded part is mostly true. Their are various standards in place that dictate what an e-book contains. They do not dictate how that standard is or must be interpreted or used by the end reader; therefore, tools should be discussed independently. A reader might make use of some aspect of the format to do a task but nothing dictates that it must.

An e-reader is to an e-book as a web browser is to a webpage.

A good exercise for the learner is to explore the structure of a few popular standards. Compare and contrast with the functionality of a few of their associated readers.

Last edited by Rob Lister; 07-21-2013 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 07-21-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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I discovered ebooks back in 2009, while I was researching which reader I was going to get, I downloaded Sony Reader Library to my pc and started reading my books that way. I didn't get my Sony reader until Feb of 2010. Now I bounce back and forth from reading my ebooks on my pc, Sony reader, Nexus tablet, & Samsung Galaxy Media Player 5.0.
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdive View Post
In connection with some Uni research I'm doing:

Is it possible to talk of e-book features (searchability, highlighting etc) independently of e-readers? From what I'm gathering e-book development was device driven (this is all very new to me ...).

Are e-books commercially available for PC consumption (excluding PDFs and apps)? I mean, could you talk about e-books for PCs before e-readers took off, apart from special interest books and classics/fiction? Again, what's coming thru is that the e-book market is mainly for dedicated readers or tablets, sometimes smartphones.

Thanks in advance.
Speaking to the highlighted section of the OP, I think you're sort-of partly right. eBooks are formatted in two common standards, ePub and Mobi, both of these formats are evolving. An open source format called ePub3 and the proprietary KF8, a proprietary Mobi format owned by Amazon and only implemented on their devices and applications, are the latest implementations. These new formats offer considerable flexibility to handle text.

Traditionally, after editing, paper books went to a Book Designer before going to the printer. The book design step could be skipped but the result made the difference between books that were beautiful to look at and easier to read, as well as more expensive.

Early versions of the eReader lacked the ability to do very much in the way of Book Design. The new formats can do most of it but many people still have older devices that are unable to use those features.

Amazon seems to be interested in updating their older models to the new standard where possible, but Adobe, the company writing the Mobile Reader software used by the open format eReaders, has not followed suit. A Canadian/Japanese company called Kobo is developing it's own format, a superset of Adobe ePub, that does implement more of ePub3 while also supporting Adobe Mobile Reader for backward compatibility.

Kobo's newest eReader, the Kobo Aura, is a hardware upgrade that further implements ePub3 and offers better formatted books and better implementation of Japanese, Chinese and Korean pictographs. The Aura is probably a harbinger of the future with a faster CPU, user expandable memory, and a brighter, higher resolution, larger eInk screen in a form factor more like that of a traditional book.

Flexible, color displays and batteries in larger screen sizes continue to be developed probably for the technical and education markets.

I see digital reading as a technology that continues to evolve in the direction of a better reading experience but due to the rapid pace of development there is an interplay between what the newest eReaders can do and the capabilities of the eReaders many (or most) people are presently using.

Last edited by 6charlong; 07-22-2013 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdive View Post
Are e-books commercially available for PC consumption (excluding PDFs and apps)? I mean, could you talk about e-books for PCs before e-readers took off, apart from special interest books and classics/fiction? Again, what's coming thru is that the e-book market is mainly for dedicated readers or tablets, sometimes smartphones.

Thanks in advance.
Yes, ebooks are available for PCs, both desktop and laptop.
There are a dozen or more reading applications for PC ranging from Kindle, Nook, and Adobe Digital reader that are tied to commercial ebookstores, to older apps like Mobipocket, Coolreader, etc.

People have been reading ebooks since the 1960's and 1970's; first on time-share systems, then on desktop PCs, later laptops. ebooks were one of the killer apps for the Palm Pilot connected organizer and later for PocketPC PDAs, from there the technology spread to smartphones and tablets.

As recently as 2010, there were more still people reading ebooks on laptops than on Kindles.
http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/forre...e-book-reader/

Broadly speaking, there have been four eras of ebook creation and reading:

- The mainframe era where it was strictly a hobby for IT personnel (since only they had the unfeterred access to the terminals need to read). This is when Project Gutenberg began. Hard-formatted txt files were the format of choice for ebooks. This sries of articlle covers some of the early efforts
http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/th...-marie-lebert/

- The PC era brought ebooks to hobbyists and academics. It brought the beginning of the scan-and-ocr underground for commercial books. Flowing txt files and rtf were the preferred formats for ebooks. Distribution started on dial-up bulletin boards and over time moved to USEnet and later IRC.

- The mid-to-late 90's brought the PDA era and commercial ebooks for mobile devices. It saw the rise of eReader format from Peanut Press, Mobi format from Mobipocket, MsReader from Microsoft, and a variety of other specialized formats. It brought the first publisher-focused ebook format, OpenEbook, upon which Microsoft's format was based and which served as the basic for epub. This era brought a variety of LCD-based dedicated ebook reader devices to asia and the Rocket and Nuvomedia readers to North America and beyond. At this point ebooks reading spread beyond its techie roots to people simply interested in buying and reading ebooks but it remained a niche for hobbyists and enthusiasts. Around the year 2000, ebooks had attracted enough attention that their was a strong push to commercialize ebooks (for the early dedicated devices as well as PCs and PDAs. Microsoft was a strong proponent but the publishing industry was afraid off them and kept them at arm's length, preferring to deal with Adobe and its encrypted-PDF "ebook" approach. It did not succeeed. Teleread has a good overview of this latter period here:
http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/amazo...from-a-bullet/

- The failed ebook push of the early part of the century set the stage for the modern ebook era. Technically, this era began with the release of the failed Sony Librie in Japan and was followed by several other eink-based devices but those were still techie-and-hobbyist devices. The real breakthrough came from marketting: First, Amazon got their Kindle reader featured on the Oprah Winfrey show. Second, they implemented a promotional policy of pricing the top 40 or so NYT bestsellers for a flat $9.99, the first time new release ebooks were consistenly priced below hardcovers. Combined with the Kindle's built-in wireless connectivity (which meant Kindles were standalone devices that did not *need* PCs) drew in general consumers from outside the PC user sphere. Within three years books became a mainstream consumer product and its PC-based roots are apparently starting to be forgotten.

There likely is a fifth era yet to come when ebooks spread broadly beyond the narrative text commercial market to the academic and corporate markets and become the primary delivery vehicle for all kinds of books, not just recreational reading. But that will be a slower evolution.

But then, with arguably 50 years of history (the oldest known ebook dates to 1964), ebook developers are used to slow and steady developments.
http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/the-v...-think-it-was/

Last edited by fjtorres; 07-22-2013 at 09:21 AM.
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