The Design and Construction of eBooks, by Steve Thomas


The first ebook was created, according to some, in 1971:

On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network.

“Obituary for Michael Stern Hart”, Project Gutenberg. Viewed 25-05-2015.

However that may be, nothing much happened until the invention of the computer screen and the World Wide Web 1994, at which time all kinds of "online book" projects appeared, seeded by work previously done by countless individuals sharing texts through bulletin boards [BBS].

Still, being tethered to a computer to read books was unsatisfying to most people, so when the early PDA devices, such as the PalmPilot, appeared on the scene 1996, people began to dream of a device for reading books that you could carry with you anywhere, and in 1998 the first of many such devices, the Rocket eBook, was launched, to great enthusiasm among a small core of people who had been wishing for such a thing for some time. Later, of course, came the Kindle, which more or less swept all before it: “Amazon released . . . the first generation Kindle device on November 19, 2007, for US$399. It sold out in five and a half hours.”* The future seemed to be Kindle, until . . .

. . . Apple released the iPhone 3G [July 11, 2008], and later the iPad 2010. Finally, a device which was great for books, but also useful for many other things. [Although there remain many Kindle fans, who don't want to do other things, and prefer the e-ink display of the Kindle to the glare of the iPad.]

So, we now inhabit a world with many options for ebooks, from the screen of a laptop or desktop computer to a smart phone, and it is therefore desirable, if not mandatory, to make any ebook available on all devices. Which causes a number of difficulties, in particular the need to accomodate different sizes of screen.


Last updated Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 23:27