When did E-Books Begin?

It has been argued recently that the story of e-books started at some point in 1993, when author Peter James published the book Host on two floppy disks (as well as in printed form). This went on to sell some 12,000 copies. The Science Museum in London recently accepted the book’s electronic version in its collections as their earliest example of an e-book. However, some would like to argue that the e-book started its career only later on, with the advent of the specialised e-book device of the Kindle or Sony Reader kind. Then again, some would like to place the beginnings of the electronic book earlier, to the invention of interactive CD-ROMs. Merriam Webster places the first recorded use of the word to the year 1988, giving credence to this latter claim.

Whichever of these definitions you are inclined to accept, one thing is certain: the e-book is here to stay, and an increasing number of people have adopted the e-reading technology, especially since the reading devices became more affordable, and the technology became available also for tablets and smartphones. 

Of course, a book is a book is a book, and there is nothing quite as satisfying as holding and turning the pages of a printed one. But there is nothing wrong with e-books either, and even the most ardent supporter of print-based media has to admit e-books are highly portable (as long as you have the right e-reader and enough battery for it). Also, e-books are easy and cheaper to produce, compared to regular books, and it is far easier to come with a second edition or make corrections and additions than for the printed ones. This is just one more reason why, if you think of writing and publishing your book, it would be a good idea to go for the electronic version first. You can trial it with an audience or your choice by targeting it via social media, you can ask for feedback and change you book accordingly if you are so inclined – the possibilities are endless (well, not really endless but you get the meaning).

Do you have an idea for a book? Have you already written a book? Are you curious to see how the public reacts to it? Let’s work something out.