E-Book stands for an electronic book (English electronic book) and calls books in digital form which can be read on E Book readers or with special software on personal computers, Tablet computers or Smartphones. Qualities of the classical book are often copied and complemented with possibilities of electronic media. A clear demarcation to text files and file formats like PDF does not exist. Other names are eBook, eBook, E book or digital book.


According to objective it is tried to create typographic very faithful effigy of a book or to illustrate very friendly to vintage primarily the textual contents (cf. also file formats further below):

Digital-optical effigy: A really existing book should be able to be spent above the printer interface as a very realistic copy of the original or his pressure preliminary stage. Special E Book readers and E issue devices which try to copy available presentation already to begin with ready formed and at the market without paper (see also belong to this beginning oriented to copy also: electronic paper).

Structural-functional effigy: Besides, the main focus on the computer-aided ebook or lies on it, contents with peculiarities typical for book (e.g., given content sequence, side overview or side-oriented structured representation, sheet function to offer digital bookmark etc.) appropriate for computer and appropriate for screen. Besides, the book as such is understood above all as a structural default, contents default and functional default which needs not necessarily a really existing original. Their creation depends therefore as a rule on the in each case used E Book reader, orientates itself by specifically for screen optimum representation and is absolutely independent of the presentation of an if necessary really existing “original”.

Both attempts divide the deficiency that many qualities of a real book cannot be returned with customary computer technology. These qualities of the book are production-partly individual, qualities above all, like the kind and quality of connection, paper kind and paper strength as well as used printing. Representatives of the purely structural-functional beginning also refuse completely to substitute for the book in this sense, and understand an E-Book as a totally independent medium with merely “natural” model whose functionality is a matter to extend it with the help of the computer technology (searching function and side overview, multimedia components etc.).

History of the E-Books

The digital availability of books was early a subject of discussion of the standing out information society. She also belonged to the original concept of the World Wide Web and his language HTML what certain META data were planned for, which should mark a sequential sequence of HTML files.

Nevertheless, these remained disregarded from the developers of the browser software. The basic draught Hypertext was at first purely document-oriented and seemed counter-rotating sequence and dramaturgy straightened book too much. Accordingly it concerns with E-Books in the format HTML mostly one single big file which contains the complete contents. The navigation possibilities in it remain limited mostly on the Scroll strip or simple Capital chosing.


Already since 1971 there is not commercial Project Gutenberg who has sat down to the aim to offer literature free of right in digital form free of charge. Besides, it was first only about offering in unstructured text format, why one could hardly speak of “E-Books”. Typical E Book formats like EPUB or Mobipocket only recently enter there also. Besides, in the German project Gutenberg-DE some texts are also made available as a mobile phone book.


In 1988 the first electronic book for sale which can be read completely in the Computerscreen was published. It was Roman Mona Lisa Overdrive of William Gibson.

The conceivable savings called middle till the end of the 1990s for production and distribution of printed books many investors on the plan. The concept “E-Book” became passing to the synonym for portable pressure files.

A communal project between the institute of technical mechanics of the university of Karlsruhe (TH) and IBM Germany moves quite early to lecture script digitally. Another early example was in 1993 the instructions of the plays Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 as a PDF file on the Compendiums-Compact-Disc. On the CD the instructions were included for two computer games and the DOS version of the Acrobat Reader. With this program one could look at the instructions, look in it, turn the leaves and print out them.

The printing industry saw in the E-Books no serious danger for the “real” book as a vehicle’s of civilization medium for literature because with the print media play book Material qualities an important role. At the same time Specified on-line distribution companies developed on books like Amazon. They rationalized logistics and order being radically and reached with it in short time a market-dominating position. Thereby they never gave to the printed book known editions.

During the following years E-Books remained economically a niche market. It developed a scene, scanned in the contemporary literature, changed via OCR in texts, several times proof-read, was exchanged together and, finally, was printed out or read on PDAs – mostly without consent of the legal owners. Because mostly only out-of-print or at least 1 year-old books were digitized, the legal owners did not go forward because of the low financial loss actively against it.


In the middle of the 1990s Bertelsmann with the BEE-Book brought out reference books in a version passed with multimedia contents on CD-ROM. Other attempts to the commercial distribution of E-Books arose in 1999-2000 in the New Economy. In parallel in addition the underground forum eBooks which existed till 2003 set up.


Several publishing companies experimented with E-Books, among the rest, O’Reilly with her Bookshelf CDs. These enclosed a regular book and on CD-ROM seven E-Books on a suitable subject in the HTML format.

E-Books reached a market position as digital book copies on the basis of the Portable Document format (PDF) with professional publications. There functions like full text search play a more important role than criteria typical for book like appearance, Hence, feeling, dramaturgy are sold etc. above all specialist books in digital form.

The specialist book publishing companies produce digital publications, the choice grows constantly. On the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2007 it was found out that already 30% of all specialist books are available as an E-Books.


Shortly before the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2008 Random House and Penguin „had exponentially growing“ E Book turnovers. Also German public publishing companies like Droemer Knaur announced E-Books, although readers were not to be had yet all over the country. Subject areas are above all an economy, right, computer / EDV, medicine / health, psychology / educational theory and politics / contemporary history. Every month there come in this manner about 100 new digital titles on the e-book market.

In the first half of the year, 2009 about 65,000 digital books were downloaded according to GfK – most often as well as on printed issues belles-lettres and counselor. They cost between 1.99 and 25 euros; on an average 10.26 euros. In 2011 the turnover rose with E-Books according to GfK in comparison to the last year’s period about 77 percent. With it achieved E-Books for the first time a portion of about 1 percent of the overall turnover of the book industry.

A study of PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts only for the area of Belles-lettres covered on E-Books for 2015 an annual turnover of more than 350 million euros in Germany what would correspond to a portion of 6.3 percent. According to the study the market develops for E-Books in this country sluggish as in the anglo-saxon space because the electronic reader is accepted in Germany not so easily as somewhere else as an equivalent alternative to the printed book.

Distribution of E-Books

Commercially are mostly used E-Books as a digital and portable copy of an original book. With 130,000 titles, the Amazon in 2008 as a paper issue and as an E-Book on offer had, the EBook sales put out 6% of the whole sales.

According to a survey less than 318 media enterprises and publishing companies in the working group electronic publishing in the stock market association 37% of all new releases appear E-Book, by specialist books already 51%. The E-Book seems later with 58% of the publishing companies than the expenditure for print, with 41% at the same time, with 43% for a lower price and with 36% for the same price. With 80% of the interviewees are achieved with E-Books less than 1% of the turnover.

Acquisition models

Everybody offers specialist books, as well as belles-lettres. Besides, publishing companies in increasing measure expel own E-Books about her publishing company homepage.

In the area of the belles-lettres these are above all older, known titles which find out a new edition in this form. Series from the area Science of Fiction and horror or also thriller are to be received at E Book publishing companies. Because, however, often old licence agreements still enclose no E Book utilisation, the so-called baking cunning is often moved only very hesitantly digitally.

The German project Gutenberg-DE sells digital books whose copyright has run off. It differs with it from American Project Gutenberg with similar name which works non-commercial.

The book trade fears basic losses by E-Books.

Lending models or rent models

Safari of O’Reilly offers an E Book-rent model. Besides, the E-Books go over not in own possession, but one has the possibility to acquire a certain number of E Book slot (E Book parking lots) per month. One can put into that from a choice of more than 3000 E-Books the desired ones and read afterwards. At the earliest after one month all E-Books can be exchanged single / or be left further in the slot. For this model the user must be absolutely on-line, the E-Books are not stored on own computer.

Also libraries act as a supplier of E-Books: To make electronically stored books for a limited in time lending available, for example, public libraries use central service providers. These acquire and store E-Books (and other electronically stored media forms).

Libraries acquire from these service providers the authorization to the use of the stored E-Books (and other E media) and offer this right again to her users. After legitimization as a library user the final user downloads to himself the E-Book of the server of the central service provider. A temporal control of the lending period occurs through the digital legal management (DRM). At the end of the lending period another use of the E Book file is not possible any more.

Alternative offer forms

There is a row of suppliers, the works whose copyright has run off, offer free of charge for downloading. Some colleges or lecturers offer select books free of charge. The OpenBook main entrance and Galileo Press make available a choice of E-Books (Openbooks) free of charge. American Project Gutenberg makes available literature as ASCII-, HTML or Plucker file freely of licence. Open, In addition, to themselves with the E-Book new and reasonable distribution possibilities for the author independent of publishing company who can also make complicated publications of the public available with it with own technical competence.


Beside the purely commercial platforms and the free ones there are also hybrid forms. To these belongs, among the rest, Read’s box and Bookrix which was founded first for the free publication, but now also offers E-Books liable for costs.

Technical preventive measures

To be able to protect the copyright also practically, a digital legal management (DRM) was introduced for many E-Books. Thought, actually, as a protection against unauthorized spreading and use, the restrictions strike in practice often in the usability compared with paper books. Thus the reading can be limited to certain devices or reading software installations. To “rental companies” to other people is possibly You don’t say so. Also the possibility of the use of the acquired copy / reading rights can get lost by changes in hardware and software. With the Adobe Acrobat DRM the E-Book can be bound, for example, to the hardware and certain rights (how printing out, load utilization period, copy-und-paste-function) be limited. Similar phenomena can be also observed with other digital media (e.g., music files).


A compromise variation between DRM-protected and books Free of DRM is the use of digital watermarks to embed the buyer’s identity irreversible in the E Book file. Private copies could be thereby transmitted unhindered to friends etc. and be lent, however, a spreading on the Internet could be traced back at the same time to the originator. This was suggested among other things by the stock market association of the German book trade and was moved in own main entrance Libreka.

DRM should be, in principle, also a user management. Indeed, nowadays it is seen primarily as a legal restriction of the user.

eBooks on Demand

The logo of EoD

eBooks on Demand (EoD) a document service of delivery liable for costs is allowed within the scope of the EU project Digitization-on-Demand (DoD), the copies more completely electronic the order by originator-unlegislated books (i.e. to books from the period from 1501 to about 1930). Besides, one can distinguish EOD eBooks and Advanced EOD eBooks between standard:

With standard EOD eBooks the desired book with high resolution on special book scanners is scanned and the single digital pictures are brought together in one single file in the PDF. Then with suitable software one can read the E-Book on the screen, print out single sides or the whole book.

With Advanced EOD eBooks the text is besides also automatically recognized while scanning. Therefore, the user can search the full text then also for concepts, copy pictures and text cuttings in other uses (as for example word processing programs) and store the whole text as a text file and go on working with it.

Up to now 35 libraries from 12 European countries eBooks on Demand offer. In USA this service is offered at the moment by the state library. The library of the Humboldt’s university to Berlin, Dresden SLUB, the Martin’s Opitz library in Herne as well as the university libraries of Greifswald and Regensburg, in Austria of the university libraries of Vienna, Graz, the Medical university of Vienna and the academy of the pedagogic arts Vienna as well as the university library and land library of Tyrol and the Vienna library in the city hall and in Switzerland of the Swiss national library in Bern, the library on the place Guisan, the central library of Zurich as well as the university libraries in Basel and Bern.

Data protection

Many suppliers have by built-in synchronization functions in reading programs or readers an idea of the use of the electronic books. You can evaluate, so e.g. which places how often or not read, are commented or are marked, and how fast and at which time of day is read. This information can evaluate them for advertising purposes. Potentially such knowledge can also affect the literary activity. The F.A.Z. presumed in addition: „How will the literature company change if the publishing company knows possibly exactly that 27 percent of the readers have put aside the book after half of the second chapter when a likeable edge figure with potential suffers a tragic accident death to the hero?“


E-Books can be shown on quite different terminals. Special E Book readers have to be conceived the advantage, exactly for her purpose, the reading of E-Books. They mostly use a monochrome power-saving display. On the other hand, PCs, notebooks, Tablet computers and Smartphones are universally applicable, but are also mostly. Besides, the useful life is limited without external stream spring v. a. on account of the background lighting of the color display.

A disadvantage of customary television sets compared with E Book readers consists in the fact that most selfluminous screens of notebooks, Tablets and Smartphones are already heavier readable with bright daylight. This is due to the fact that a screen must shine for a good legibility at least roughly so brightly like the surroundings light.

The displays with electronic ink of E Book readers shine like customary paper not even, but need to the reading a source of light. Hence, they can be also read with bright daylight well. The 100-dollar laptop of the charitable society OLPC is expressly conceived as a reader, while the screen offers a switchable on black-and-white announcement which returns as printed magazines with 200 dpi the text.

EBook files

File formats

Before the amount of specified file formats the file formats which were sketched for slightly divergent purposes how, among the rest, for example, Microsoft help file format CHM (file ending were sometimes used:.chm.). Besides format (PDF) was rather dominant rather for pressure issue intended, from Adobe system developed Portable Document. While Adobe disclosed the format developed from PostScript and offered the accompanying reading software free of charge for downloading, the manufacturer succeeded in putting a platform-covering quasi standard for formatted data.


Only after on power-saving “e-Ink” – announcement technology based, mobile readers plentiful spreading had found, crystallised from a huge number existing in the beginning more specifically for manufacturer of specified file formats (BBeB, DjVu, EPUB, FictionBook, LIGHTED., Mobipocket, Plucker, PDB, TomeRaider etc.) increasing arrangement on open standard formats. In particular EPUB has here strong support and is looked at the moment as the most promising format beside Mobipocket.


Software for the consideration

  1. Among the rest, the following programs serve for the announcement of E Book file formats – for the EPUB format see the list in particular there.
  2. Adobe Reader is offered for many platforms and indicates PDF files.
  3. Adobe Digitally Editions is a slender alternative to the Adobe Reader. It is offered for several platforms and supports PDF and EPUB.
  4. Calibre is platform-covering available under free license (GPL) and indicates all relevant file formats, she can convert, organize collections and something more.
  5. CHM-Viewer – announcement program for CHM-E-Books based on HTML.
  6. E reader is offered by Barnes & noble for many platforms and indicates Palm Digitally media files. File ending:.pdb.
  7. FBReader is an Open Source programme to the announcement of E-Books in different formats which is available for many platforms.
  8. Foxit reader for Windows and Linux, also indicates PDF files.
  9. Microsoft reader for his lighted format.
  10. Mobipocket reader is offered for many platforms. File ending:.prc.
  11. Palm Plucker and as a Windows version Vademecum. File ending:.pdb.
  12. Sumatra PDF for Windows indicates PDF, XPS, DjVu, CBZ and CBR files.