E-book, in full electronic book, digital file containing a body of text and images suitable for distributing electronically and displaying on-screen in a manner similar to a printed book. E-books can be created by converting a printer’s source files to formats optimized for easy downloading and on-screen reading, or they can be drawn from a database or a set of text files that were not created solely for print.
The industry for buying and selling e-books first emerged as a mainstream business in the late 1990s, when companies like Peanut Press began selling book content for reading on personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld devices that were the predecessors of today’s smartphones and tablet computers. However, in the aftermath of the dot-com crash of 2000–2002, e-books did not find wide acceptance by the publishing industry, and investment in e-reading devices and e-book technologies subsided. The industry’s resurgence may have begun when the Sony Corporation released an e-reading device in 2006 and Amazon.com released the Kindle in 2007, after which sales of e-books in the United States grew rapidly.