An English author, Martin Tupper once wrote: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today & forever.”

E-book devices have brought revolution and with the arrival of a new generation of electronic book readers, for instance, the Sony Reader, and Amazon Kindle, the days of the printed word just might be numbered. Let’s have a closer look at electronic books (e-books) and see out how they work.

Storing a book in electronic form:

The very first attempt to create a world-wide library of EBooks was called Project ‘Gutenberg’ and it is still running today. Long before the World Wide Web (www) came along; a bunch of dedicated Gutenberg volunteers took printed books & scanned or typed them into their computers to make electronic files they could contribute. For legal reasons, these books were mostly classic old volumes that had fallen out of copyright. The electronic versions of these printed books are basic, text-only computer files stored in a format called ‘ASCII’ (American standard code for Information interchange) a way of representing letters and numbers, and symbols with the numbers 0-255 that virtually every computer can recognize.

The problem with ‘ASCII’ is that the text contains very little formatting information: you can’t differentiate headings from the text, there is only one basic font, and there is no bold or italics. That is why people developed much more practical electronic files like ‘PDFs’ (Portable document format). The basic idea of ‘PDF’ was to save an almost exact replica of a printed document in an electronic file that people could comfortably read on screens or print out if they preferred. The ‘HTML’ files people use to create web pages are another kind of electronic data. Every ‘HTML’ page on a website is a bit like a separate page in a book, but links on web pages mean you can freely hop around until you find exactly the information you want and the links on websites give you powerfully interconnected info that is often really quick to use than a library of printed books.

How do you read an electronic book file?

An electronic book reader is a very small, portable computer designed for reading books stored in a digital format such as ‘ASCII’ and ‘PDF’ ‘HTML’ or another similar format. Presently the two most popular eBook formats are ‘’EPUB’’, a worldwide, open standard that evolved from an earlier standard called ‘’OEB’’ (Open eBook) and widely used by Sony readers and most other eBook readers, and ‘’AZW’’, developed by (Amazon) and currently readable only on its Kindle reader. There are some other formats including ‘’MOBI’’ and ‘’LRF’’ but you don’t hear about them so much.  Most eBook readers can store hundreds and even thousands of titles at a time and most now have Wi-Fi Internet connections so you can download more books whenever you wish.

One of the most important parts of an eBook reader is its screen. The first eBooks used small versions of L.C.D laptop screens which had a resolution of about 35 pixels per cm (90 pixels per inch). You could easily observe the dots making up the letters which were quite tiring to read for more than a few minutes at a time. The latest eBooks use is completely different technology and called electronic ink. Rather than using LCD displays they show words using small black & white plastic granules that move about inside microscopic, spherical capsules under precise electronic control. Such displays had about twice the resolution of ordinary computer screens and are clearly visible in sunlight, and use much less power. In fact, they are almost as sharp and easy to read as printed paper.

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