While there is a lot to be said for the warm and tangible nature of printed hardcover books, the smartphone and tablet revolution means that many of us now do most of our reading not on paper, but on screens. This transition is celebrated today with ‘Read an eBook Day’.
Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or educational material, eBooks give you a convenient way to read and learn wherever you are, without having to carry a book around or have that nosy individual opposite you on the train seeing what you’re reading. Plus, as we’re about to discuss, they have a lot more history than you might think.
Here are three facts about eBooks that jump off the page:
1. The idea was proposed 88 years ago
Although the technology hasn’t always been there, the idea of reading on machines rather than paper is not a new one.
In 1930, American writer Bob Brown wrote a paper called ‘The Readies’, in which he suggested that books were being left behind by cinema. With ‘talkie’ movies having introduced sound to film, Brown suggested “a simple reading machine” should be the way forward for books. However, he expected to have to attach it to an “electric light plug”, which we now only have to do when charging devices.
2. A form of eBook was created in 1949
It’s debatable who invented the eBook, but the earliest known example of putting words onto a device came nearly 70 years ago. Invented by Spanish teacher Angela Ruiz Robles, it operated on compressed air rather than electricity, but it allowed students to refer to text and graphics on spools, thus limiting the number of books they had to carry around with them.
3. eBooks are available with moving covers
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but one thing an eBook can do that a printed book can’t is have a video clip for a cover.
Check out the cover of this eBook by Sariah Wilson, which at first appears to be just a picture of woman, but then a man walks into the picture as well before drifting off. It might seem a bit gimmicky, but it opens up the possibility of mixed media literature where novels can be enhanced by video and audio clips.
At Engage Web, one of the most popular eBooks we have created is a guide for how to trace a fake Facebook profile. This is one of several eBooks available from the Online Learning Academy, covering a diverse range of subjects.