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A History of the E-book


Reading a book electronically instead of on paper has become more common in recent years with the help of the Kindle, and even more recently with the iPad and Google eBookstore.  In 2010 Amazon reported that sales of e-books outnumbered hard copies for the first time.  But despite the recent growth in the e-books area, digitised books are not a new phenomenon.  Did you know that they have been around in some form or other now for 40 years?  In 1971 Project Gutenberg was launched with a digitalised version of the United States Declaration of Independence.   The same year, the first email was sent between two host computers.  Today, Project Gutenberg is a website that offers 33,000 books that anyone can download for free.

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Graph via

Some key moments in the history of the e-book:

  • In the year 2000, Stephen King made his novella Riding the Bullet available exclusively online,  and 400,000 copies were downloaded in the first 24 hours.
  • In 2002, publishing houses HarperCollins and Random House began selling digital versions of their books.
  • In 2007 Amazon launched Kindle in the US, with 90,000 books available for purchase.
  • The same year, Apple launched it´s first generation iPhone.
  • From here, the digital book boom soars; Apple releases the iPad with the iBooks application, and Google releases the eBookstore with 3 million titles.  At this moment,  the global e-book market is worth $900 million.

Regardless of personal preference, e-books are continuing to grow in number and popularity and are changing the way that people learn and access information.


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