You can learn more here (I did):
"It's now 1971 and enter Michael Hart. Mr. Hart was handed a real boon - $100,000.00 worth of computer time with a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer. He decided that the greatest value created by computers would not be computing, but would be the storage, retrieval, and searching of what was stored in our libraries. The first "e-book" was born—a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Those humble beginnings would become Project Gutenberg. Today Project Gutenberg houses 20,000 free texts and over 100,000 books are available through their partners. Today over 3,000,000 books are downloaded each month"
I like that. Michael Hart sounds like my kind of person. What a project to tackle!!
The site says that libraries began paying attention to ebooks in 1998. The invention of eink technology for use by ereader devices brought a boon to the "new" industry. Its creation is touted to be better than LCD readers. Today there is a plethora of ebook reading devices available. Some top choices are: NOOK, Kindle, Kobo, and Sony. Ipad has joined the trend, being a device that has multiple functions and not just the ability to present ebooks. Today's "Smart Phones" also perform as readers.
Ebooks are not only for people who own specialized devices though. Ebooks may be read on one's computer also.
There are now many sites that offer free ebooks. www.gutenberg.org offers free e-versions of classic literature that is now in the free domain. There are many sites that offer free ebooks as a temporary special to their users. If you've never downloaded an ebook it is really much easier than it sounds. One may find video tutorials by searching Google for "how to download ebooks".
If you've never used an ereader I strongly encourage you to visit a store this week (Barnes and Noble, Target, Best Buy, etc.) to try some of them. If you are considering a purchase, I would encourage you to do some comparisons to find the one that will suit you best.
When my husband asked me "How do you like your NOOK?" after I'd had it only a couple of weeks, my immediate reply was "I like it so much, I know it won't be my last ereader." I know the technology is going to continue improve. In fact, it already has, depending on how you look at technology. I didn't expect to be tempted by NOOK's second version, the NOOK COLOR. But I want one, and badly. So does our 10 year old son, Matthew. We are both saving our money to purchase our own. The NOOK COLOR does not have eink technology. The color screens is a good match for children's book as well as cookbooks or even magazines. As we are waiting to save enough money, we will also consider new tablet versions (items comparable to the iPad.) Tablets are now being made in the smaller, more convenient size, like the NOOK and Kindle. Tablets are multi-capable too; being able to present movies and other things, as well as ebooks.
If you've never read an ebook, this will likely be a good week to try one. I am sure there will be many new and special offers of free ebooks presented on websites in the coming week.