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Progressing the definition of “e-book”

Vasileiou, Magdalini and Rowley, Jennifer (2008) Progressing the definition of “e-book”. ISSN 0737-8831

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Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to propose a definition for the concept “e-book” on the basis of an analysis of existing definitions. The e-book marketplace is growing rapidly and the potential impact of e-books on publishers, librarian and users is increasing in significance. Yet, there is agreement that despite a few widely accepted definitions there is no consensus on the definition of the term e-book, and, further that consensus on the definition would be beneficial for both researchers and practitioners. Design/methodology/approach – This paper starts with a brief overview of the developments in e-books, covering technologies, marketplaces, and the attractions and challenges associated with e-books for users and libraries. It then reports on a content analysis of existing definitions of e-book. A collection of definitions was compiled through an exhaustive literature review. Content analysis was performed to identify the frequency of occurrence of key words and phrases across these definitions. Findings – There is a consensus that definitions of e-book should include reference to: the digital or electronic nature of e-books, analogy to printed book, some indication of the content of e-books, and some allusion to e-book technologies. We propose a two-part definition that embraces these themes, but also reflects the in-use features of the e-book. Conclusions and recommendations make proposals for further discussion on the concept of e-book and, more widely, into the publication, acquisition and use of e-books. Originality/value – In the rapidly developing e-book marketplace it is essential to have agreement on the definition of e-book, and furthermore, such a definition needs to reflect both the persistent characteristics of e-books, and their dynamic and developing nature.

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