Ebook Timeline — A continuing post, updated 2014 February 16

With static infographics gaining ever more popularity, this was inevitable:

the-evolution-of-the-book_50290aed00a7e_w1500

The Evolution of the Book
Visual.ly, 2011

Anyone up for grafting on some branches to cover Queen Anne’s Statute (1710), the German forerunner of the mass-market paperback (1867),  the introduction of the English modern paperback (1935), the introduction of standards (ISBN, EPUB), the start of the Google Print/Book Project (2004/2005), the month and year ebook sales overtook print sales at Amazon (May 2011), the appearance of the first book app  … ?

Jeremy Norman’s From Cave Paintings to the Internet remains the invaluable resource for such timelines.

Updated 20140216

Image

“The Book Industry Study Group (BISG), a leading U.S.-based trade association representing the entire book supply chain, announced today the publication of a new Policy Statement endorsing EPUB 3 as the accepted and preferred standard for  representing, packaging, and encoding structured and semantically enhanced Web content — including XHTML, CSS, SVG, images, and other resources — for distribution in a single-file format.”

For the record and from the Library of Congress:

“The Open eBook Publication Structure or “OEB,” originally produced in 1999, was the precursor to EPUB.  Version 1.0 of the Publication Structure was created in the winter, spring, and summer of 1999 by the Open eBook Authoring Group.  Following the release of OEBPS 1.0, the Open eBook Forum (OeBF) was formally incorporated in January 2000.  OEBPS Version 1.0.1 [OEBPS_1_0], a maintenance release, was brought out in July 2001.  OEBPS Version 1.2 [OEBPS_1_2], incorporating new support for control by content providers over presentation along with other corrections and improvements, was released as a Recommended Specification in August 2002.   EPUB 2 was initially standardized in 2007. EPUB 2.0.1 was approved in 2010.   EPUB, Version 3, was approved as an IDPF Recommendation in October 2011.  It is substantially different from EPUB, Version 2, both in using only a single form for textual content and in having support for audio, video, and scripted interactivity (through Javascript).  No longer supported are the EPUB_2 formats for text content, one based on the Digital Talking Book [DTB_2005] format and a second form based on XHTML 1.1 compatible with OEBPS_1_2.   A single new encoding for textual Content Documents is based on HTML5/XHTML and CSS3, despite the fact that both of these W3C standards are still works in progress. SVG is supported for graphics and it is possible to have an EPUB_3 document whose “pages” consists [sic] only of graphics, for example for a graphic novel.  Several legacy features are deprecated.  Some legacy structures may be included for compatibility of EPUB_3 documents with existing EPUB_2 readers.  EPUB_3 readers are expected to render publications using version 2 and version 3.”

Coincidentally, Amazon UK reported today that it is now selling 114 Kindle ebooks for every 100 print books it sells.

The EPUB format is not natively readable on the Kindle device or in the Kindle application.  Customers can add conversion apps easily to their devices to make EPUB readable on a Kindle, but as consumers seek the advantages of an industry standard, how will Amazon respond?

Added 20120806.

Age of IncunabulaAs we are still in the Age of e-Incunabula, what better than a trip half way around the world to Japan to see one of the world’s largest collections of Western incunabula — and an excellent site to bookmark?

National Diet Library’s site refers to itself as an exhibition based on the book Inkyunabura no Sekai (The World of Incunabula) / written by Hiroharu Orita, compiled by the Library Research Institute of the National Diet Library. Tokyo: Japan Library Association, July 2000 (in Japanese).

The exhibition provides a timeline of incunabula from the second half of the 4th century when the shift to the codex occurred to 1980 when the British Library began entering data on its collection of incunabula into the ISTC.  The site provides much more than this chronology.  Images from the collection, statistics on the type fonts used, coverage of design and how the quires (sheets of paper folded, forerunner of book signatures and files in EPUB!) were arranged, and the binding process — all are covered straightforwardly and often in entertaining detail.

Look on this site and consider how far we have to go with our ebooks and apps! Added 20120725.

Feel free to suggest other timeline entries!

Previous:

Not as interactive as the Counterspace timeline for typography below, but certainly as densely informative, and this infographic extends to typography online.   Added 20120719.

Another timeline, this one focused on bookbinding. Is .zip the binding for an ebook? Added 20120717.

On the heels of the question above comes an outstanding interactive infographic from Counterspace on a critical element of the book: typography.  Added 20120710.

Yet another ebook timeline, and this one is broken down into interpretive categories, “The Age of Writing” and “The Network Era,” which is thought-provoking. Are we in “The Age of the Tablet“?  Added 20120706.

INCIPIT (i.e., where the scoop started earlier in July):

In 1936, “Chronology of Books & Printing” appeared in its revised edition, published by Macmillan in New York.  In 1996, Cor Knops picked up the torch and started a Book History Timeline from Sumerian clay tablets (he could have started with the caves at Lascaux!) through to 1997 with the first issue of “Biblio Magazine” but with little acknowledgment of ebooks. Now in 2012, looking back to 2002, we find this journalistic stab at a timeline for ebooks.

Forged together, the chronologies would have to include “As we may think” by Vannevar Bush in 1945, Ted Nelson’s coining of “hypertext” in 1963-65, the Apple Newton in 1993 (how many publishers and authors have kept track of the free downloads of their Newton ebooks?) and much more.

Another extension of the ebook timeline appears in this book by Marie Lebert, which fills in important gaps, misses others and offers more than a few overemphasized continental developments. Her timeline takes us through 2008, which means that the signal events in 2011/12 of ebooks sales’ outstripping those of print in certain months are still to be added.

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Bookmarking the evolution of the book
This entry was posted in Bookbinding, e-Incunabula, History of Printing, Incunabula, Typography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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