WHAT IS AN E-BOOK?


E-Book does not stand for elephant book, egotistical book, or excellent book. In fact, e-book stands for electronic book. The e-book is a digital book that you can read on your computer screen. Some e-books can also be read on electronic devices such as a Palm, or you can be cool and buy an e-book only device like the Rocket eBook Pro, which your friends will love because it's new and they will want to look at it and hold like it's a baby. They will want to borrow it. Don't let them. They probably won't give it back. Well, after you get your device, a reader is the next step. The e-book reader is the software that must be installed on the computer or device to which you download your text in order to read it. The two most used readers are the Bill Gate's monstrosity ...I mean the Microsoft Reader and the Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader. You can download them at their respective sites or at amazon.com. Once you install the software then you can go to countless e-publishing websites and download all the e-books you want. It's so easy. If I can't do it, I'm sure you can.


The E-Book Story

They say there is nothing like holding a book. I don't consider myself a bibliophile. Yet, I must be honest. There is no greater visceral pleasure, aside of inhaling the scent of beautiful girl's hair, than walking into a small, quaint, bookstore (or even one of those publishing industrial complexes) and putting your fingers on a new book and opening it to hear the crackling of the spine. Ah! It's like watching Jennifer Love Hewitt bounce across the movie screen, like drinking the first shot of Bacardi on a Saturday night, like hearing the sweet swish of a nylon net as you drill another three pointer. The simple things life has to offer.

However, there is a change happening in the dynamic world of technology, and one of my ultimate enjoyments may be relegated to the past. The printed book as we know it, the paper, the ink, the binding, is close to going down the route of the typewriter and the pet rock. The beloved object is going digital and there is nothing we can do. So embrace. Take it in your arms and accept it. The e-book is here. True.

In the Ideas & Trends section of the New York Times, writer John Markoff wrote, "Computer enthusiasts have long dreamed of the electronic book, a small, handheld computer that would display pages as crisp and pleasing to the eye as those designed by a master craftsman. But year after year the dream has lingered frustratingly over the horizon, as the people who make books, the publishing companies, have remained mired in the age of Gutenberg. Now there are signs that the publishers are becoming as interested as the computer buffs. Enticed by a variety of new technologies and visions of the profits that might be made from selling words without all that paper and ink, they are preparing to reinvent the book."

Nothing Markoff wrote sounded exceptional or stuck out in any particular way. That is until you read the date it was written. December 29, 1991. In the article, he goes on to highlight the new technologies that were rapidly converging at the time, including the thin colored flat-panel video display, low-power computer chips, longer-lasted batteries, and software that would display text on any computer screen. It was a market feasible for a new shift in publishing.

Companies such as Sony and Apple were creating portable devices that would create the electronic book. Sony appeared with the Data Discman, a palm-sized viewer that played small disks containing wine and movie guides that could be accessed by entering a simple query to search for information. Apple, along with the Voyager Company of Santa Monica, California, combined their interests and introduced electronic books for the new portable Macintosh. The software the Macintosh used was perfect to create and design books with animated drawings, sound effects, and hypertext links.

Priced at $19.95 the first electronic books included a science fiction trilogy by Douglas Adams, and a little book by some guy named Michael Crichton called "Jurassic Park." In the printed edition of "Jurassic Park," section illustrations of complex computer graphics were drawn. In the Macintosh-Voyager creation, the images come alive. The animated dinosaurs leap of the computer screen and eat the user. Seriously. Not joking. I might be exaggerating slightly, but just a little.

The problem with these machines was only certain books could be read on certain devices. It was like Betamax vs. VHS. The one company that hoped to pave the way to uniformity was Adobe Inc., which introduced Carousel, a software program that aimed to create a single format. Markoff was hesitant to claim that the e-book was going to eradicate the printed page. "Given the profusion of different hardware and software standards, it will take years or perhaps decades before a common style of electronic book emerges," he wrote.



What I think

I don't know whether he was right or wrong. I will draw judgment later. Okay, the verdict is in. He was right on some accounts and wrong on others. E-Book technology had increased exponentially in the last decade, but no software has been developed to unify the industry. So, to all printed book lovers like myself, don't fret. We're safe for now.



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