Believed to have been first created by the Project Gutenberg in 1971, eBooks are now becoming an everyday media for information societies and they are changing the way that our world is distributing and consuming knowledge and entertainment compared to traditional publishing mechanisms.
eBooks encourage open source formats and challenges conventional copyright laws. This also imposes several challenges for distribution networks as consumers struggle to find suitable e-reader devices which support a wide range of both proprietary and open source eBook formats.
Although the distribution of eBooks is currently limited to communities with access to technologies like the Internet, its existence will encourage distribution companies, governments and academic institutions to work together to close the global digital divide to ensure increasing access to this new distribution channel.
The era of eBook is promoting participatory culture which encourages open source formats, but one of the most significant considerations when designing media systems that encourage participation is access to content.
Open source projects contribute to e-reader development and actually promote eProduction:
With eBooks, the logical structures of traditional books must also be considered and that tables of contents and indexes are essential features. Research by the Electronic Books On-screen Interface (EBONI) at the Centre for Digital Library Research, University of Strathclyde revealed:
There are numerous file formats and standards for eBook files and devices, some are proprietary and others are open source.