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2.1. Audio Book

Audio books have a unique and fascinating history. In 1933, anthropologist J.P. Harrington drove through North America recording oral histories of Native American tribes on aluminum discs using a car-powered turntable. The Library of Congress recordings made especially for the American Foundation for the Blind were first introduced over a half century ago.

And according to Robin Whitten, the editor and founder of “Audio File” (the only magazine which is dedicated solely to the audio book industry), “Caedmon”(now a subsidiary of “Harper Collins Publishers”) can be credited with having started the recordings of literature more than 50 years ago. Whitten says that “Caedmon” was just a small New York company when they started recording the audio of great authors and poets of the 1950s.

In January 1952, Barbara Cohen and Miss Roney met with Dylan Thomas, one of the greatest poets of those days, in the bar of the Chelsea Hotel and persuaded him to record some of his poetry. Cohen and Roney knew that Thomas’s poetry was shocking, moving, and important, and that they wanted to record it to preserve the sounds. With the promise of $500, and much coaxing and cajoling, a recording session was arranged. Caedmon Records was bom the next week, named for the first poet to write in the native language of Old England.

Those early recordings were made into vinyl records, but can arguably be considered the first collection of audio books ever produced. The transition of book recordings into audiocassette tapes happened in the late 1970s, but it wasn’t until the advent of CD technology that the audio book phenomenon really exploded.

Now audio book technology is transitioning yet again into downloadable digital formats that can be listened to at your computer, transferred to a portable audio player, or burned to a CD. Consumers are demanding ways to multi-task in our hectic world and today’s audio books allow readers to do that, at the same time preserving the oral tradition of storytelling that J.P. Harrington pursued many years ago.

2.2. Electronic-book

E-books may seem like a relatively new gadget, but the history of the e-book dates back much longer. One of the first e-book prototypes was the Memex - a reading device concept by Vannevar Bush, invented in 1945. The Memex was a combination of microfilm reader and screen.

Rather than storing your books as digital files, all books were photographed to microfilm and were stored on reels within a large desk. The Dyna Book was invented in 1968 as a portable reading device for students.

The Dyna Book had a large keyboard and a grayscale display weighed two pounds and was capable of displaying documents locally stored. Toshiba later picked up the design of the Dyna Book and turned the reading device into one of the first Laptops.

In 1992 SONY first entered into the e-book market with the SONY Book Man. SONY built a small device that included a CD-ROM drive, built-in memory and a small keypad. However the Book an did not sell well with the price set to $1800. In 1998 the Rocket e-Book built by Nuvo Media and the Softbook released by Softbook Press were the earliest devices that closely resemble today’s e-book reading devices.

Copyright protection systems were established to prevent individuals from freely distributing content across the Internet. In November 2007, Amazon released the first generation Kindle. The lightweight e-ink device sold-out within five and a half hours of its introduction.

The Kindle’s success could be attributed to the wealth of titles available from Amazon and the ease in which users could wirelessly purchase and download content.

Seeing the popularity of the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble jumped into the game and released the Nook in November 2009. The first Nook was a device very similar to the Kindle, in that it used a small e-ink black-and-white display.

In April 2010, Apple released the first generation iPad tablet computer. The introduction of the iPad was wildly successful, selling more than 15 million units within its first year. The trend of e-book reading exclusive devices looks to be similar to the decline of MP3 players and the rise of smart-phones. E-book reading will ultimately be merged together with tablet computing, taking place on one convergent device.

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