Submitted by Bibliofuture on September 11, 2011 - 11:28pm
Michael Hart, who was widely credited with creating the first e-book when he typed the Declaration of Independence into a computer on July 4, 1971, and in so doing laid the foundations for Project Gutenberg, the oldest and largest digital library, was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 64.
As the shift from a print-centric book world to a digital one accelerates, more and more digital publishers are creating themselves.
The biggest publishers, with the resources of sophisticated IT departments to guide them, have been in the game for years now and paying serious attention since the Kindle was launched by Amazon late in 2007. But as the market has grown, so has the ecosystem. And while three years ago it was possible to reach the lion’s share of the ebook market through one retailer, Amazon, on a device that really could only handle books of straight narrative text, we now have a dizzying array of options to reach the consumer on a variety of devices and with product packages that are as complicated as you want to make them.
Free or very inexpensive service offerings through web interfaces suggest to every publisher of any size, every literary agent, and every aspiring author “you can do this” and, the implication is, “effectively and without too much help”. Indeed, services like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) service, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!, and service providers Smashwords and BookBaby, offer the possibility of creating an ebook from your document and distributing it through most ebook retailers, enabled for almost all devices, for almost no cash commitment.
Excerpt from NPR piece: "You'd ask for a certain weight of cheese, you'd ask for vinegar," says economic historian Marc Levinson. "The vinegar was not bottled; it was in a barrel and the shopkeeper would pump it out into a small jar for you. If you wanted some pickles, they'd be in a barrel, too. A lot of things would be in bulk, and the shopkeeper was responsible for giving you the quantity you wanted — or the quantity he'd feel like giving you. Because every store had a scale and the scale might or might not be accurate."