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My final term paper for English class: long, boring, and repetitious–it’s how to get an A.

E-books Deserve a Promotion


An electronic book, or e-book, is a digital version of a conventional printed book. E-books are designed to be read on a computer, mobile phone, or dedicated e-book reader. Because e-books can be distributed and published at little or no cost, they are frequently used in academic and technical writing where the book is intended to be read by only a small audience. Among the general public however, e-books have not gained widespread recognition as a replacement for printed books and libraries. There are many reasons why e-book technology should be advanced. E-books can be published at little cost by a computer, and they require no paper or ink to produce. They can be deleted at the push of a button, eliminating thousands of tons of landfill waste every year. In addition to their environmental benefits, e-books are compact and portable. E-books simplify searching and storage of books at libraries and research departments. These books can be stored at a central Internet location and accessed from anywhere in the world. Cleary, e-books are an attractive alternative to printed books.

Arguments against the use of e-books state that reading from a computer or mobile phone screen is tedious and inconvenient due to the electronic nature of the content; text presented on a screen sometimes causes eyestrain, and e-books are intangible objects that are subject to loss in the event of electronic failure. Some people are also reluctant to carry another electronic gadget on their person because they feel their life is ruled by gadgets. However, many applications are available for smart phones that bring e-book capability to already existing mobile phone. Display technology is advancing rapidly and several e-book readers are available with displays that closely mimic paper books. Many e-book readers automatically archive copies of e-books online, guaranteeing that the e-books will not be lost if the e-book reader is lost or stolen. In addition to hardware inconveniences, some authors are reluctant to publish their work in electronic format because of the potential for circumvention of copy protection, allowing anyone to copy and share an e-book without paying the author for his or her intellectual property. If e-books would be promoted more aggressively by publishers and authors, many of these issues would disappear with additional research and development.

The advantages of e-books over printed books are too numerous to ignore. To promote broader use of e-books, publishers and technology innovators have equal work to do. E-books are not expected to be a complete replacement for printed books and libraries, but improvements in technology such as device displays that are easier to read, better e-book applications for mobile phones, and e-book web sites optimized for e-book downloading from mobile devices would help people to better utilize e-books for both informational and leisure use. Because of the many financial and environmental advantages that e-books have over printed books, it is imperative that publishers promote and publish more e-books.

Annotated Bibliography

Bush, V. (1945, July). As we may think. The Atlantic Monthly
, 227 (5), 50-53.

This essay, published in 1945 by the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, attempts to explain how inventions will give humankind access and control over the knowledge of the world. The author applies the repetitive processes of mathematics and statistics to the world of information; he forecasts that books will eventually be searchable and accessible by anyone anywhere. The article emphasizes that organization and accessibility of information is more important than volume of information. Before computers were even invented, the writer of this article had an accurate vision of how to make information available to the masses.

This source will be used to address how electronic media and e-books have changed the information environment. A primary objective of electronic media should be making this information accessible to others and organizing e-books that exist, rather than emphasizing the sheer volume of books that are available in electronic format. This essay is helpful to define the benefits of having information widely available to anybody.

Doctorow, C. (2004). Ebooks: Neither e, nor books. O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. San Diego, CA.

In this conference presentation the author explains the history of e-books and defines some of the key differences between them and printed books. The author has experience working as a librarian, computer technician, and is a writer of several books published in both print and e-book format. He explains how e-books complement paper books and how free e-books sell more paper books for a writer by generating widespread interest among the public. Also mentioned is the issue of people’s sense of ownership with paper books, and this source explains how e-books are actually more permanent than paper books when wear and tear and loss are factored in.

Written by a credible authority on the subject of e-books, this source provides interesting information about how free e-books can help to sell paper books. Writers need to be paid for their creative work, and this lecture presents several ways authors can boost sales of their books by offering them in free e-book format. This article uses a fresh perspective to present several arguments in favor of e-book use. In this paper, these arguments will be used to positively analyze how authors would benefit through the promotion of e-book technology.

Hane, P. J. (2009, February). M&a, ebook readers, and the future of the Internet. Information Today , 26 (2), 7-10.

In this article, the rising sales of e-books are discussed. While traditional bookstores had lower than normal Christmas sales in 2008, online e-book marketers like Amazon.com sold record amounts of e-books and e-book readers. The author attributes this partly to Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of e-book readers in October 2008, and the resulting awareness of the benefits of e-book reader devices. Also mentioned are several different competing models of e-book readers and their respective features and popularity.

This source will be used to introduce the features of the top-selling e-book reader devices. The author explains that e-book readers sold by different companies have different techniques to keep readers from stealing content. The pros and cons of different types of e-book readers are explained by the author, and will be used in this paper to define several types of emerging technologies. This article effectively summarizes key features of available e-book readers and the rising sales of e-books.

International Digital Publishing Forum. (2009, January). Industry statistics. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from International Digital Publishing Forum: http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/industrystats.htm

This website provides current sales data from the e-book publishing industry and includes sales data from the top 12 to 15 publishers of e-books. This data is useful to identify trends within the industry and to predict future sales of e-books in relation to printed books.

This source will be used to show supporting evidence that e-books are gaining in popularity as e-book readers evolve and more books are published electronically. While sales of printed books have fallen in the recent past, e-book sales have continued to increase, showing that more people are choosing to buy e-books over printed books. Data from this website will be helpful in showing growth in the e-book market sector, and will be used in a visual illustration that depicts sales trends over time.

Kaser, D. (2009, January). Focus on ebooks. Computers in Libraries , *29 *(1), 15-47.

This article is a report from the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest book fair of its type, held annually in Frankfurt, Germany. The 2008 book fair was attended by nearly 300,000 visitors and 7,373 vendors. The e-book sector is mentioned as being the fastest growing segment of the book publishing market. Opinions of many vendors regarding where they predict the e-book market is headed are mentioned in this journal article.

This source will be used to present e-book developments and future trends as predicted by the author’s report of the Frankfurt Book Fair. The author makes it clear that, while e-books will probably never replace printed books, they are fast becoming a major player in the book publishing market. Because many e-book publishers attend this fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair is a good place to receive feedback on the global book market because of the many countries that are represented. The comments and feedback this author received from the Frankfurt Book Fair can be used in support of the benefits of widespread e-book use.

Litman, J. (2000). Digital copyright. Amherst, NY: Promotheus Books.

This book explains copyrights and how these rights are complicated when the material is in electronic form and available on the internet. Creation of e-books, music, and video is defined, along with the monetary incentives provided to creators by the current copyright law. The author also analyzes several well-known cases such as Napster and its distribution of music without authorization by their record companies.

This source will be used to explain some complications with protecting electronic material on the internet from copyright infringements. The author shares several good illustrations that are parallel to the complications faced by e-books. This is a good source for this topic because piracy and online theft of e-books is closely linked to that of other digital media such as music. Since theft of digital media is a large factor hindering the promotion of e-books, examining the parallel situation of Napster and other cases of music theft is helpful to develop solutions for reducing theft of online e-books.

Lloyd, S. (2008, Summer). A book publisher’s manifesto for the twenty-first century: How traditional publishers can position themselves in the changing media flows of a networked era. Library Trends
, 57 (1), 30-42.

In this report current publishers’ positions are examined in relation to the ever-shifting book market. More than ever, researchers and readers are turning to search engines and databases for information, rather than traditional books. One emerging trend to satisfy consumer’s unquenchable appetite for information is to offer unlimited information at a fixed price rather than the conventional method of a specific piece of information for a specific price. Proponents of this approach claim people consume about the same amount of content regardless of how much is made available to them. In addition to proffering ideas to promote widespread availability of information, this article defines different creative media used to publish and distribute literary content in the form of blogs, videos, social networking, instant messaging, and file sharing sites.

This source will be used to present alternatives to the current digital distribution and compensation process. Changing media necessitates fresh consideration of the present value system as it relates to publishers and compensating authors for their intellectual property. Many viable solutions to remove barriers to the spread of electronic media are offered in this article.

Project Gutenberg. (2008, November 21). Statistics. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Project Gutenberg : http://www.pg-news.org/statistics/

This website was the original provider of free e-books and claims to be the founder of the e-book. This e-book collection was started in 1971by Michael Hart; this site’s mission is to encourage the creation and free distribution of e-books. Currently there are over 100,000 free e-books available on Project Gutenberg.

This source will be used to provide information about the history of e-books. As the first and earliest adopter of e-book technology, today Project Gutenberg is still a leader in what may well be the biggest change in book technology since the Gutenberg printing press of the 15th century. There is much information on this site that is helpful in identifying the purpose and benefits of e-books.

Quint, B. (2009, February). Books, books, books: going, going, Google. Information Today , *26 *(2), 7-8.

This journal article talks about free e-books that are available on the Internet, and the sites that provide these books, specifically Google Book Search. The author talks extensively about current developments of Google’s book site, which already provides more than 1 million public domain books for free public download. Google is currently working on a settlement agreement with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and The Authors Guild to be able to offer an additional 4 million to 5 million in-copyright-but-out-of-print books to Google’s library partners for a small subscription fee. If an agreement is reached between Google, the Association of American Publishers, and The Authors Guild, the Google Book Search site would have more searchable content than Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica combined.

This source will be used to identify e-book trends on the Internet, and explain different ways people can access online e-books. Online libraries such as Google Book Search are leaders of e-book technology and are doing much to provide free and easily accessible e-books to anyone with a computer. The availability of e-books is a large issue for consumers considering switching to e-books. Availability of public domain books on Google and other similar websites is one of the first steps necessary to convince more people to use e-book technology. Technology innovators will follow behind this wave of public domain offerings with better and cheaper e-book technology. This source explains the importance of Google and early adopters of e-books and how Google’s approach relates to the future of e-book technology.

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2001). Copyrights and copywrongs. New York, NY: New York University Press.

This book provides a comprehensive history on copyright laws in America. From their inception in the United States Constitution, copyright laws have striven to protect individuals’ intellectual property from unfair copying and distribution. The book provides a background of current practices -beginning with James Madison’s and Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a fair and equitable system of protecting the intellectual work of authors, inventors, and innovators, and finishes by presenting the challenges and discrepancies between digital copyright theory and practice of current times.

Of particular interest on the topic of copyright laws is that these laws were originally designed to prevent copying of material rather than sharing of material. An inherent nature of electronic media is that copying occurs spontaneously and even without human intervention; in the relatively simple act of viewing an e-book on a computer screen, the content of the e-book will be copied several times within the computer as electronic bits are copied from the media to the memory to the processor and finally to the display. This information is helpful to define present-day copyright law inconsistencies in relation to electronic media and e-book technology.

E-books Deserve a Promotion

An electronic book, or e-book, is a digital version of a conventional printed book. E-books are designed to be read on a computer, mobile phone, or dedicated e-book reader. Today people use computers and the Internet to research college papers, look for recipes, and socialize. Although computers and technology is an integral part of everyday living, many people still read books in much the same way as ancestors of the 15th century did. What is preventing newspapers and books from joining the digital frenzy? The advantages of electronic media are obvious, but why are people still reluctant to embrace this sector of technology? E-books need to become more widespread in order to take advantage of technology to more efficiently share information and act more responsibly toward the environment. In this paper the benefits of e-books will be reviewed, the factors opposing them will be identified, and some possible solutions to remove barriers will be presented to the widespread use of e-book technology.

The first e-book was made by Michael Hart (1992) when he digitized the Constitution of the United States in 1971. Hart’s non-profit Project Gutenberg web site at gutenberg.org is a leading distributor of public domain books in electronic text and audio format. In 1945, Vannevar Bush (1945) wrote about a device he envisioned, upon which “any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf…He can leave one item in position while he calls up another. He can add marginal notes and comments…” (p. 52). What Bush envisioned in 1945 is remarkably similar to today’s e-books.

E-books have many advantages over printed books –they are better for the environment and publishing costs are much lower than printed books. E-books can be published at little cost by a computer, and they require no paper or ink to produce. According to Paula J. Hane (2009), e-books sales have spiked in part because “Oprah Winfrey praised the [e-book reader] on her television show in October, and its popularity skyrocketed” (p. 10). Whatever the reason, e-book sales continue to increase every year, as seen in Figure 1, which shows annual wholesale e-book sales since 2002. The 2009 figure is an estimate based on the January sales rate, compared with previous January amounts. These climbing sales figures are good news for authors and publishers of e-books because they show that more people are willing to pay authors for their e-books.

Wholesale Revenues of E-books 2000-2009

* Figure 1: Annual sales of e-books


The above chart does not take into account free e-books, which are perhaps the most popular form of e-book. It is difficult to keep count of the distribution of free e-books because almost anyone with a computer can reproduce and distribute them. According to Barbara Quint (2009) of Information Today, Google has been digitizing books for several years and making them available to the public at no cost, with “more than one million books for download” (p. 7). Free e-books are limited to those with expired copyright protection in the public domain, and books that are designated as public domain by the author of the book. Copyright protection currently extends from creation of the book until approximately 70 years after the death of the original author (United States Patent and Trademark Office, 2009). Increasing amounts of free digitized books will make e-books even more popular in the future.

A major argument that authors and publishers have against widespread e-book use is that their products will be illegally shared and distributed on the Internet. Copyright infringement reduces profit for authors and publishers, and piracy of electronic media is a threat to producers of digital material. Protecting online electronic material from being copied is expensive and problematic. To license an e-book exclusively for use on one device or computer is impractical because two major requirements of e-books is that they are portable and are able to be read across several device platforms, from cell-phones to computers to e-book readers; taking away this portability greatly reduces their attraction. Also, there is much debate about current copyright laws, and whether their protection periods should be reduced. Reducing copyright protection is one way to reduce copyright infringements of e-books, but it is important that authors do not lose incentive to produce creative material.

The issue of the proper length of copyright protection is too broad of a topic to cover extensively in this paper; however, a summary of current laws is in order to better understand this issue opposing e-book promotion. Copyright laws as they are today originated in 1790 (Litman, 2000, p. 15). The early leaders wanted to encourage creativity and freedom of speech by protecting a publisher’s efforts in printing a book from copying. Copyright laws did not protect against sharing of content, only the copying and reselling for profit the work of another publisher. Today copyright protection is still extended to authors, and rightly so. The intellectual property of authors needs to be protected in order to encourage free thinking and new ideas. According to the National Research Council Staff (2000), a common fear of e-book publishers is “potential liability for contributing to copyright infringements—for example, fear that any unauthorized use of archived material by a member of the public could result in the archive being held liable for contributing to infringement” (p. 207). The length and type of copyright protection is certainly a factor in the availability and use of e-books.

The opposition to copyright laws is the availability of all information to everyone. A proper balance between protected content and free content is necessary to promote accessibility of information and the publishing of new and creative content. Siva Vaidhyanathan, in the book Copyrights and Copywrongs (2001), explains how copyright periods went from a 14 year term to their current 100+ year term.

The framers of the Constitution realized that for a democracy to function properly, citizens should have easy access to information and should be able to debate and criticize without fear of lawsuits. For the same reason, the framers insisted that Congress be able to grant copyrights for a limited time only. They asserted that after authors had profited for a reasonable amount of time, their works should belong to the public and contribute to the richness of the culture and politics of the nation. For more than 120 years, American authors could enjoy copyright protection for mere 14-year terms, or, after 1831, 28- year terms which were renewable for another 14 years. From 1909 through 1978, the term was extended to 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. All works created since 1978 fell under the 1976 revision, which set the term as the life of the author plus 50 years, to benefit the author’s kin. Most European nations in 2001 grant copyrights for 70 years past the death of the author, and the U.S. Congress in 1998 extended U.S. copyright to match the European term by passing the “Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.” (p. 25).

The lengthening of copyright protection periods through the years is shown below in Figure 2. This illustration shows the different bills passed by Congress and the corresponding length of copyright protection.

Copyright Terms from 1790 to 2000

*Figure 2 tomwbell.com: http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/(C)_Term.html

Long copyright periods encourage more piracy and hinder book sellers from publishing e-books or public domain material. Shortening the copyright protection is one solution to make more electronic material available to everybody over the Internet. As they have in the past, copyright laws need to continue to adapt to changing technology and social patterns.

Free e-book content on the Internet has its advantages, whether the material is pirated or is intended to be free. New authors benefit from the free publicity they receive from having their books available in free electronic format by selling more printed books and related products. However, established authors are sometimes hindered by the availability of their product at no cost on the Internet, which makes it challenging to continue to profit while giving away their products. The free product challenge is not new to the digital media scene. Media companies that distribute digital material are discovering innovative ways to profit while providing free products. A common solution is to charge for premium content by offering a product delivered on a DVD or other tangible item. An example of this is the DVD sets offered by television shows of an entire episode; this allows purchasers of this premium content to view the entire episode at their convenience without being interrupted by commercials. Authors of e-books sell premium content in the form of printed books or other related merchandise. Another way distributors of free digital content make money is by utilizing traffic-counts from their web sites to attract advertisers. Advertisers display advertisements alongside the digital content and pay the content provider for this privilege. Authors and publishers of e-books are also adopting similar tactics; they sometimes offer their books for free download only from a specific site where they host related advertising, or they offer a free preview of their book in order to entice readers to buy the print version in book stores. The rapid growth of Internet technology offers authors and publishers of e-books virtually unlimited potential for innovative ways to profit from e-book distribution.

Another argument against e-books is that the reading experience provided by an electronic display is not as good as a paper book. People are uncomfortable reading for long periods of time from a computer screen. E-books are not limited to computers, and are being used on mobile phones and portable reading devices. Many people envision e-books as an unruly computer screen full of text that is hard to read because of a scrolling and flickering computer monitor. Display technology for computer monitors has improved since the days of huge cathode ray tube monitors; now there are electronic displays that closely resemble paper and are easy to read. People spend hours every week reading email and web pages, and they want a break from looking at a computer screen. Portable e-book readers remedy many of the issues faced when reading from a computer screen; the displays of e-book readers are not backlit and closely resemble printed paper. They are small and durable devices with long battery life. A few of these e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle are able to browse the wireless internet wherever there is cell-phone service. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are available for these e-book readers; current issues are automatically sent wirelessly to the device with no need for a computer (Amazon.com, 2009). Application software for computers has also improved making a much better reading experience than was previously possible. Widespread broadband Internet brings high speed access to millions of titles into homes allowing people to browse huge libraries online and download books of choice in seconds. Applications are available for the Apple iPhone, Blackberry, and other popular models of smartphones that allow the user to download and read e-books on his or her mobile phone. As a result of improving technology, arguments against e-books are getting weaker.

An advantage of e-books is cost savings due to lower publishing costs. Production costs are significantly lower with e-books because e-books have no printing costs and no destination fees other than the bandwidth costs of the Internet. E-books can be stored and copied electronically. The ease of copying, sharing, searching, and storing e-books has made them popular with libraries and researchers; e-books can be stored on a central server and be accessible online from anywhere in the world by thousands of readers at the same time. The substantial savings of using e-books instead of printed books will eventually be shared by the consumer and author in the form by offering lower cost books that provide more profit for the author and publisher.

In addition, electronic publishing offers many benefits to the environment. E-books use no paper or ink and can be deleted with the push of a button. The Environmental Protection Agency (2009) estimates that the United States produces over 6 million tons of newspaper and magazine waste every year, or 110 pounds for every household. A substantial portion of this waste could be eliminated by promoting electronic newspapers and books. Opponents of e-books argue that the manufacturing process of the electronic hardware necessary to read these books does more damage to the environment than the thousands of trees and acres of landfill space consumed by book publishing. However, this argument is weak because in actuality the majority of e-books are being read with existing hardware and electronic devices such as computers and cell phones. E-books are an environmentally friendly alternative to printed books.

The solution to promoting widespread use of e-books is to remove the barriers publishers face in making e-books available to the public. The largest barrier to more widespread use of e-books is copyright liability. A careful evaluation of existing copyright laws and practices, and an alignment of copyright laws with current digital technology would do much to encourage broader use of e-books and easier access to information. Authors would have more outlets for their creative property and would be able to profit from sharing their intellectual work with others. With a brighter future for e-books, software developers would put more effort into making better applications and reading devices that would make e-books even more convenient for consumers to read.

In conclusion, e-books should be utilized more to share information. E-books have many benefits, including increased portability and access from online libraries. One hurdle that needs to be cleared in order for this to happen is the revision of copyright laws in order to limit liability of publishers involving copyright infringement by the public. With cooperation from publishers, regulators, and technology innovators, these obstacles can certainly be overcome. E-books are the responsible choice for protecting the environment and preserving existing resources, and it is time e-books are promoted more aggressively in order for them to gain the respect and market share they deserve.


Amazon.com. (2009, April 24). Kindle: Amazon’s wireless reading device. Retrieved April 29, 2009, from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Amazons-Wireless-Reading-Device/dp/B000FI73MA

Bell, T. (2008, July 2). Copyright term chart. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from tomwbell.com: http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/(C)_Term.html

Bush, V. (1945, July). As we may think. The Atlantic Monthly
, 227 (5), 50-53.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2009, February 18). Household emissions calculator assumptions and references. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_assumptions.html

Hane, P. J. (2009, February). M&a, ebook readers, and the future of the Internet. Information Today , 26 (2), 7-10.

Hart, M. (1992, August). The history and philosophy of Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 13, 2009, from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:TheHistoryandPhilosophyofProjectGutenbergbyMichael_Hart

Litman, J. (2000). Digital copyright. Amherst, NY: Promotheus Books.

National Research Council Staff. (2000). Digital dilemma: Intellectual property in the information age. Washington, D.C.: National Acadamies Press.

Quint, B. (2009, February). Books, books, books: going, going, Google. Information Today , *26 *(2), 7-8.

United States Patent and Trademark Office. (2009, January 9). Copyright refresher. Retrieved April 29, 2009, from United States Patent and Trademark Office: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/copyright/copyrightrefresher.htm

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2001). Copyrights and copywrongs. New York, NY: New York University Press.