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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An e-book (short for electronic book, also written eBook) is the digital media equivalent of a conventional printed book. E-books are usually read on personal computers or smart phones, or on dedicated hardware devices known as e-book readers or e-book devices.


Some e-books are produced simultaneously with the production of a printed format, as described in electronic publishing, though in many instances they may not be put on sale until later. Often, e-books are produced from pre-existing hard-copy books, generally by document scanning, sometimes with the use of robotic book scanners, having the technology to quickly scan books without damaging the original print edition. Scanning a book produces a set of image files, which may additionally be converted into text format by an OCR program. Occasionally, as in some e-text projects, a book may be produced by re-entering the text from a keyboard.

As a newer development, sometimes only the electronic version of a book is produced by the publisher. It is even possible to release an e-book chapter by chapter as each chapter is written. This is useful in fields such as information technology where topics can change quickly in the months that it takes to write a typical book (See: Realtime Publishers). It is also possible to convert an electronic book to a printed book by print on demand. However these are exceptions as tradition dictates that a book be launched in the print format and later if the author wishes an electronic version is produced.

There are some parts of the industry where there are particularly notable leading firms. In the general field of science-fiction and fantasy, Baen Books, an American publishing company established in 1983 by science fiction publishing industry long-timer Jim Baen (1943–2006) has a well-established position. It is a science fiction and fantasy publishing house that specializes in space opera/military science fiction and fantasy (though it does not restrict itself to these subgenres). It is notable for releasing books without DRM in a variety of formats, before hard-copy publication, and pre-releasing ebooks in parts before the hard-copy release. Many older titles are available for free, especially the first book in a series.

As of 2010, there is no industry-wide e-book bestseller list, but various e-book vendors compile bestseller lists, such as those by Amazon Kindle Bestsellers and Fictionwise. There are two yearly awards for excellence in e-books—the EPIC eBook Award (formerly EPPIE) given by EPIC, and the Dream Realm Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror e-books. Both awards have been given since 2000.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "E-book" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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