2 State of the Art on Electronic Books
The transfer of information, documents, and content via electronic media can provide
innovative alternatives to print media. For example, CD-ROM version of an encyclopedia is
much easier to use than conventional book due to its small size, practicality, easiness of
research trough the text, possibility of including web links with more information about the
topics, its potential for integrating video clips, animations, audio contents and graphics.
Therefore, electronic media can greatly increase interactivity (Kipphan, 2001).
Electronic book (e-book, eBook, e-Book, ebook, digital book or e-edition) is term first
defined by American expert in computer graphics Andries van Dam. He said that e-book is
just a stored file that contains the complete text of a book that was initially published, or could
have been published, in usual printed form. Generally, it is a book-length publication in
digital form, consisting of text, images, or both and it is readable on computers or other
electronic devices. Sometimes it is defined as
an electronic version of a printed book
many electronic books do not have any printed form. They are usually intended to be read on
e-book readers, portable electronic devices designed for primarily for the purpose of reading
e-books and periodicals, but they can be read using any sophisticated electronic device that
features a controllable viewing screen. This means they can be read using computers, some
mobile phones and all smart phones. This can also be disadvantage of electronic books. While
handling of the common book is easy, simple and flexible, electronic book reading devices
lack book-like handling. Also the fact that a device is needed to read such book is a great
There are a lot of discussions about the electronic books slowly replacing printed
books. Some people claim that printed book could never be replaced by electronic one, while
others say that printed books will soon disappear completely. Big advantage of the electronic
book is that one device can store a large number of books so that user does not have to carry
physical books with him. Today every e-book reader has ability to store thousands of books in
one device. On the other hand, electronic books are often considered as “colder” than th
printed books. Printed books can be read in direct sunlight. Electronic books can also, but
only if they are read on the device with electronic paper screen. If the book is read on tablet,
this cannot be done. There is also the problem of loaning the books. While printed books can
be freely borrowed between people, it is not the case with electronic books. Some e-book
readers have lending applications, for example the Nook’s LendMe feature, but they often
have some limitations, including time constrains on lending periods.
Some studies have shown that, when it comes to reading comprehension of the
children, printed books are better choice. One such study was conducted by the Joan Ganz
Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and results found that literacy building in children is
more effective with printed book than with electronic book. On the other hand, there are other
studies that found that audio and animation in electronic books helps young children identify
printed words. While electronic books encourage children to participate with interactive add-
ons, the research concluded that sometimes “click
trough” added features can detract children
from the reading because of all the interruptions. Some experts worry that devices can distract
little kids from the real world. On the other hand, electronic books are extremely helpful for
beginning readers, who can zoom in unfamiliar words or click links that help reader to make
connection between the word and its meaning. For adult people, who are more able to
comprehend the overall story or meaning in the text, these interactive features such as linking,
bookmarking, highlighting, video, audio and animations mean huge benefit.
Electronic books are widely accepted nowadays. Publishers all over the world are
making their books, catalogs, brochures and other print media digital. Greatest markets of the
electronic books today are United States of America and United Kingdom (Wischenbart,
2011). In United States several book titles are sold in more than a million digital copies,
regular digital bestseller lists are popping up and tools for creation and distribution of
electronic books are developing rapidly. Besides United Kingdom, European biggest e-book
markets are Germany and France. Some future projections see a double digit market share for
electronic books by 2015 in most European markets. These big markets are targeted by the
global brands such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Kobo.
Amazon, creator of the Kindle reading platform, offers both printed and electronic
books. Google Editions brought a lot of electronic books to various mobile platforms. Apple,
with its products iPad, iPhone and iTunes, is integrating distribution and consumption of the
Electronic books can be read on various devices. Some of the devices are e-book
readers and they can only be used to display digital books, newspapers and magazines. Some
of those devices are Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony Reader, Borders’ Kobo and Barnes and
Noble’s Nook. Some of them can offer internet connectivity
and other useful functionality,
but their main purpose is to display e-books. However, nowadays electronic books can be
displayed on other devices, such as tablets and smart phones (Willans, 2013). These devices
are equipped with features like Wi-Fi, MP3 support and full-color touch screen. Market of
devices for digital reading also differs between countries. For example, in Asia, especially in
China, Japan and Korea, most popular device for electronic book reading are mobile
platforms. In continental Euro
pe, tablet is the most popular reading device, and Apple’s iPad
is most commonly used tablet. Besides iPad, devices with an E Ink Screen are commonly
When costs of the producing the book are considered, print books cost more because
more resources are needed. Even though devices needed to read electronic book can be
expensive, cost per electronic book is much lower than cost per printed book. On the other
hand, printed books can be bought in second hand bookshops for a low price, and electronic
As every other digital media available on internet, there is a problem with electronic
book piracy. Publishers are fighting it by putting in an electronic book digital watermarks that
are specifically linked to a person’s account, so if a copy of t
hat book ends up on some
pirating website, a publisher know whose book that is. There are many controversies about
this method because anyone’s account can be hacked, electronic books can be stolen and put
into pirating website.
The inventor of the first electronic book is not agreed upon. The first electronic book
might be Index Thomisticus, prepared in late 1940s by Roberto Busa. It was electronic index
to the works of Thomas Aquinas. In 1949 Angela Ruiz, a Spanish teacher, patents what is
most often considered to be the first real electronic book, Mechanical Encyclopedia (La
However, there are historians who consider that electronic book
have started in the early 1960s, when Doug Engelbart started his NLS (oN-Line System)
project at Stanford Research Institute, and Andries van Dam (Reily, 2003) started Hypertext
Editing System and FRESS (File Retrieval and Editing System) projects at Brown University.
FRESS documents were structure-oriented rather than line-oriented; they were formed
dynamically for different users, and had automated tables of contents and indexes. All these
systems also provided extensive hyper linking, graphics, and other capabilities. Van Dam is
generally considered to be coiner of the term “electronic book”.
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One of the most important persons in the history of electronic books is Michael Hart,
founder of the Project Gutenberg. He started it in 1971 and today it is the oldest digital
library. The two main goals of the project are to transfer printed books to electronic form, in
order to preserve them, and to make them available to anyone. First publication was
digitalization of the United States Declaration of Independence. Hart was a student of the
University of Illinois and he obtained access to a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer in the
university’s Materials Research Lab. He received an account with a virtually unlimited
amount of computer time. He decided to do something that could be considered to be of a
great public value and set his goal to make the 10000 most consulted books available to the
public at little or no charge, and to do it by the end of 20
century. He named the project after
Johannes Gutenberg, the German printer who propelled the movable type printing press
revolution in fifteenth century.
By the middle of the 1990s, Hart was running Project Gutenberg from Illinois
Benedictine College and more and more volunteers had joined the project. Due to the lack of
technology, by 1989 all of the text was entered manually. At 1989 image scanners and optical
character recognition software improved and became more available, which facilitated text
In April 2014 it had 45000 publications, with an average of over fifty new e-books
added each week. Most of the items in library are full texts of public domain books, they are
mainly free and in open formats that can be used on almost any computer. Therefore,
whenever possible, the releases are available in plain text, but they are also available in other
formats, such as HTML, PDF, EPUB, MOBI and Plucker. Most of releases are written in
English language, but there are also publications in other languages. In 2004 an improved
Project Gutenberg online catalog was presented. It made content easier to browse, access and
hyperlink. Project Gutenberg is now hosted by Ibiblio digital library at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Project Gutenberg founder, Michael Hart, died on 6 September
2011, at the age of 64, but the Project keeps running.
Early electronic books were generally written for specialty areas and for limited
audience. In 1992, Sony launched the Data Discman, an electronic book reader that could read
e-books that were stored on CDs. In 1990, when internet became widely used and transfer of
the files became easier, electronic books became more available.
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2.2 E-book formats
Most widely supported is EPUB format. It can be read at most of the electronic book
readers and it is XML-based. In following lines e-book formats are described.
BBeB (Broad Band eBook) is electronic book file format that is developed by Sony
and Canon. BBeB files have extensions .lrs and .lrf or .lrx. LRS files are XML files and they
represent the source code of BBeB electronic book. LRF is unencrypted format, while LRX is
encrypted for DRM (Digital Rights Management) purposes. They are compressed versions of
LRS files that are used by electronic book readers. LRS format is openly available to the
public, but LRF and LRX are not, but they can be converted to LRS format. As of 2010, the
Sony ebook store does not use BBeB format and they have converted all books to EPUB
Comic book archive or Comic book reader file is archive file for sequential viewing of
images, especially comic books. It mainly consists of a series of image files, usually PNG or
JPG files, stored as a single archive file. GIF, BMP and TIFF image files can also be used.
File extensions of this format are: .cb7, .cba, .cbr, .cbt and .cbz. Comic book archive files are
not a distinct file format, but file name extension indicates the archive file used.
Compiled HTML or CHM format is based on HTML. It is designed by Microsoft
Company. Single compressed file includes multiple pages and embedded graphics. Filename
extension is .chm and files support following features: data compression, built-in search
engine, ability to merge multiple .chm files and extended character support.
The Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) is format based on XML and
MP3. Textual content is based on XML, and audio content is human or synthetic speech
recorded in MP3 format. It is created by DAISY Consortium for people with print disabilities
who cannot effectively read printed media because of a visual, physical, perceptual, cognitive
or learning disability. This e-book format is designed to be audio substitute for people with
print disabilities, including blindness, impaired vision and dyslexia. This format has advanced
features compared to traditional audio book, for example ability to search the text, place
bookmarks, precisely navigate line by line and regulate the speaking speed without distortion.
It also provides accessible tables, references and additional information and as a result it
allows visually impaired listeners to navigate something complex such as encyclopedia or
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DjVu is a format specialized for storing scanned documents, especially those
containing a combination of text, images and photographs. Filename extension is .djvu. It can
take high-resolution scan (300-400 dpi) which is good enough for both on-screen reading and
DOC is e-book file format supported by most of the e-book readers. It is file format of
word processing documents, most commonly in the proprietary Microsoft Word Binary File
Format. It can be easily edited and converted to other e-book formats.
DOCX file extension stand for Office Open XML file format developed by Microsoft.
It is a zipped, XML-based file format for representing spreadsheets, charts, presentations and
word processing documents. Starting with Microsoft Office 2007 it became default target file
format of Microsoft Office. Like DOC files, DOCX files are also supported by many e-book
readers and they can also be converted to other e-book formats.
EPUB is one of the most commonly used e-book file formats. The name EPUB stands
for electronic publication. It is a free and open e-book standard developed by International
Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and is XML based. Files have extension .epub and their
content is reflowable, which means that an EPUB reader can optimize text for particular
display device. It also provides support for audio and video content, dependent on device
support, and it uses CSS styling.
eReader is a freeware program used to view Palm Digital Media electronic books,
electronic book format with filename extension .pdb. Versions of the program are available
for a lot of e-book readers. The program supports features like footnotes and bookmarks.
FictionBook is XML-based electronic book format with filename extension .fb2. The
format is convenient to store books and convert them into other formats. It does not specify
the appearance of a document but it describes the structure.
Founder Electronics developed APABI format with filename extensions .xeb and .ceb.
This format is popular for Chinese electronic books. APABI book can be produced using
Apabi Publisher and read using Apabi Reader.
Hypertext Markup Language is a markup language used for most web pages.
Electronic books that use HTML can be read using any web browser. Filename extensions are
.htm and .html. Generally, HTML is not suitable to store information in because it requires
more storage space than most of the other formats. However, a lot of electronic book readers
store each chapter in HTML format and then use ZIP compression to compress HTML data,
images and style sheets into a single and smaller file.
iBook is e-book format developed by Apple. These e-
books are created by Apple’s
free software iBook Author. Format is based on the EPUB standard. The iBook Author
software currently supports import and export of three formats: ibook, Plain Text ad PDF.
Filename extension is .ibooks.
Kindle Format 8, or KF8, is file format released by Amazon.com when Kindle Fire
reader was released in 2011. Filename extensions are .azw and .kf8. the .kf8 file format
supports a subset of HTML5 and CSS3 features. Older Kindle electronic book readers use
and frames. There is a corresponding e-book reader called the Mobipocket Reader. It offers
features such as highlights, bookmarks, corrections, notes, drawing, adding a blank page
anywhere in the book and free-hand drawing. It also has built-in dictionary. Filename
extensions are .prc and .mobi.
Newton eBook is commonly known as Apple Newton book with filename extension
.pkg. A single Newton package file can contain multiple books. All systems running Newton
operating system have built-in support for reading Newton books. Books support internal
links, tables of content and indexes, embedded grayscale images and some scripting
Portable Document Format, widely known as PDF is one of the most commonly used
electronic book formats. It is developed by Adobe Systems and derived from PostScript. PDF
documents can easily be both read and printed and they are very common on World Wide
Web. PDF files are supported by almost every e-book reader, tablets and smart phones. PDF
files can also contain interactive elements such as buttons, annotations, bookmarks,
hyperlinks, cross-references, page transitions, audio and video content or flash animations
(Adobe: Dynamic PDF Documents
). Document can be set up in InDesign and converted to
this kind of PDF file using Adobe Acrobat software.
Plain text files, with .txt filename extension, can also be electronic books, although
they don’t support formation options, colors, graphics or interaction. However, plain text files
are the simplest electronic books and they can be read an almost all operating systems.
Plucker is an open source free e-book reader application developed for mobile and
desktop reading. It has its own file format associated and software that generates Plucker files
from PDF, HTML, text or other file formats. Filename extension is .pdb.
Rich Text Format, with .rtf filename extension, is supported by a lot of e-book readers.
It can be edited very easy, and also converted to other e-book formats. Lots of e-book readers
support this format (The National Archives, 2002
TomeRaider is e-book format that has various versions: for Windows, Windows
Mobile, Palm, Symbian and iPhone. Filename extensions are .tr2 and .tr3. Capabilities of
TomeRaider3 e-book reader vary considerably per platform: the Windows and Windows
Mobile editions support HTML and CSS, while the Palm edition supports limited HTML and
does not support CSS. Symbian reader can only read older .tr2 format, which does not have
search features and does not render images.
2.3 E-book readers
An e-book reader (e-book device or e-reader) is electronic device designed primarily
to read electronic books or periodicals. Any device that can display text on a screen can be an
e-book reader, but specialized e-book readers are designed to make reading of the electronic
books as easy as possible, and similar to reading a conventional book. These devices are
portable, with specialized screen that optimizes reading in any conditions (darkness, sunlight,
etc.). They use modern technologies like electronic paper and electronic ink which imitate real
paper and ink. Furthermore, many readers can use internet trough Wi-Fi so that users can buy,
borrow and download electronic books.
Electronic paper and ink are designed to imitate ordinary paper and ink. Conventional
displays emit light, but the electronic paper reflects the light from its surrounding, just like
real paper, which makes reading more comfortable. Electronic paper can be read in direct
sunlight without the image appearing to fade. Electronic ink is the optical component of a film
used in electronic paper displays and it uses the same pigments used in the printing industry
Some of the most important manufacturers of e-book readers are Amazon, Barnes &
Noble, Bookeen, Ectaco, Kobo, Onyx and PocketBook.
-book readers are named Kindle (see Image 1). They allow users to shop,
download browse and read electronic books, newspapers, magazines and other media using
wireless internet. There are six generations and the modern ones use modern technologies like
electronic ink and paper, Android operating system and LCD screen.
Image 1: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (picture taken from:
The Barnes & Noble Nook is American e-readers brand whose devices are based on
Android operating system. Most recent device is Nook GlowLight (see Image 2) has 6 inches
touch screen, has wireless connectivity, battery life of two months and storage of 4 GB.
Image 2: Nook GlowLight (Image taken from:
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