Ebooks, Ereaders, and Ebook Device Design

Ebooks, Ereaders, and Ebook Device Design

HyunSeung Koh (School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA) and Susan C. Herring (School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch221

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Ebooks and Ebook Devices

The term ebook (also: electronic or digital book) is commonly used in contrast with paper or printed books. Beyond that, it has no consensus definition: It is sometimes used to refer to electronic text in the special form of the digital medium (e.g., Feather & Sturges, 1997; Hughes, 2003) and at other times to the software or hardware used in devices for reading such text. The more precise term ebook device refers to an ereading appliance that comprises three components: etext (including hypertext), ebook software, and ebook hardware. Ebook devices include not only ereaders (or ebook readers), which are portable devices designed solely for reading, but also any devices with ebook software, such as laptops and desktop computers. In the design literature, the term ebook is sometimes used to refer to an ebook device. The focus of this chapter is the design of ebook devices intended for ereading. Ebook content and ebook device design for specific applications such as elearning are outside the scope of the chapter.

Etext and Hypertext

Ebooks involve etext, text that is displayed on a computer screen or other electronic device. Etext can be either a component of an ebook (e.g., Anderson-Inman & Horney, 1997; Vasileiou et al., 2009) or a broad category that subsumes ebooks (e.g., Bellamy et al., 2001). Hypertext, a term coined by Ted Nelson, is a type of etext (Dillon 2004; Willett 2004) that is more than text, in that it contains nodes and links to text and other types of media (McKnight et al., 1996).

In 1945, Vannevar Bush envisioned the prototype of hypertext, the Memex machine, which would enable all intellectual products – books, records, and communications – to be linked to each other by utilizing the principle of association or human cognitive capability (Bush, 1945). Bush’s vision inspired two projects in the early 1960s: Ted Nelson’s Xanadu system, which envisioned that a new document could be created by linking or bridging existing documents that are mutually exclusive (Nelson, 1974), and Douglas Engelbart’s On-line System (NSL), which was the first to implement hyperlinked text, diagrams, email, and source code (Engelbart & English, 1968), although Engelbert did not use the terms ‘hypertext’ or ‘hyperlink.’ The early 1980s also saw a number of experimental hypertext and hypermedia programs, many of whose features and terminology were later integrated into the World Wide Web (Cailliau & Ashman, 1999).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Etext: Text in digital formats.

Ebook Device or Ereading Device: (e.g., a computer screen; the Amazon Kindle) refers to a reading appliance that includes three components: etext, ebook software, and ebook hardware.

Ereader: A portable device, excluding laptops and tablet computers, that is designed solely for reading.

Ebook Software: As opposed to ebook hardware (i.e., the physical component of a device), refers to a computer software program (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader; the web-based software at NetLibrary).

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