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Title: A Short History of EBooks
Author: Lebert, Marie
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Short History of EBooks" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



NEF, University of Toronto, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Marie Lebert. All rights reserved.

  This book is dedicated to all those
  who kindly answered my questions during ten years,
  in Europe, in America (the whole continent),
  in Africa, and in Asia.
  with many thanks for their time and their friendship.

A short history of ebooks - also called digital books - from the first
Mobipocket, Google Books, the Internet Archive, and many others. This
book is based on 100 interviews conducted worldwide and thousands of
hours of web surfing during ten years.

This book is also available in French and Spanish, with a
longer and different text. All versions can be found online

Marie Lebert is a researcher and editor specializing in
technology for books, other media, and languages. She is the
author of "Technology and Books for All" (in English and
French, 2008), "Les mutations du livre" (Mutations of the Book,
in French, 2007) and "Le Livre 010101" (The 010101 Book, in
French, 2003). Her books are published by NEF (Net des études
françaises / Net of French Studies), University of Toronto,
Canada, and are freely available online .

Many thanks to Greg Chamberlain, Laurie Chamberlain, Kimberly Chung,
Mike Cook, Michael Hart and Russon Wooldridge for revising previous
this ebook.


  ====  Introduction
  1990: The web boosts the internet
  1993: The Online Books Page is a list of free ebooks
  1994: Some publishers get bold and go digital
  1995: Amazon.com is the first main online bookstore
  1996: There are more and more texts online
  1997: Multimedia convergence and employment
  1998: Libraries take over the web
  1999: Librarians get digital
  2000: Information is available in many languages
  2001: Copyright, copyleft and Creative Commons
  2002: A web of knowledge
  2003: eBooks are sold worldwide
  2004: Authors are creative on the net
  2005: Google gets interested in ebooks
  2006: Towards a world public digital library
  2007: We read on various electronic devices
  2008: "A common information space in which we communicate"
  ====  Chronology
  ====  Acknowledgements


The book is no longer what it used to be.

The electronic book (ebook) was born in 1971, with the first
public domain. It is nearly 40 years old, already. But this is
a short life compared to the 5-century old print book.

The internet went live in 1974, with the creation of the
protocol TCP/IP by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn. It began spreading
in 1983 as a network for research centers and universities. It
got its first boost with the invention of the web by Tim
Berners-Lee in 1990, and its second boost with the release of
the first browser Mosaic in 1993. From 1994 onwards, the
internet quickly spread worldwide.

In Bookland, people were reluctant, curious or passionate.

The internet didn't bring print media, movies, radio or
television to an end. It created its own space as a new medium,
to get information, access documents, broaden our knowledge and
communicate across borders and languages.

Booksellers began selling books online within and outside their
home country, offering excerpts on their websites.

Libraries began creating websites as a "virtual" window, as
well as digital libraries stemming from their print
collections. Librarians helped patrons to surf on the web
without being drowned, and to find the information they needed
at a time search engines were less accurate. Library catalogs
went online. Union catalogs offered a common point for hundreds
and then thousands of catalogs.

Newspapers and magazines began being available online, as well
as their archives. Some journals became "only" electronic to
skip the costs of print publishing, while offering print on
demand. Some newsletters, zines and journals started online
from scratch, skipping a print version.

Authors began creating websites to self-publish their work or
post it while waiting to find a publisher. Communication with
readers became easier through email, forums, chat and instant
messaging. Some authors explored new ways of writing, called
hypertext literature.

More and more books were published with both a print version
and a digital version. Some books were "only" digital. Other
books were digitized from print versions.

New online bookstores began selling “only” digital books.
Aggregators partnered with publishers to produce and sell
digital versions of their books.

People no longer needed to run after information and to worry
about living in a remote place with no libraries and
bookstores. Information was there, by the numbers, available on
our screen, often at no cost.

In 2009, most of us would not be able to work, study,
communicate and entertain without connecting with others
through the internet.

Here is the "virtual" journey we are going to follow:

  1971: Doctrine Publishing Corporation is the first digital library
  1990: The web boosts the internet
  1993: The Online Books Page is a list of free ebooks
  1994: Some publishers get bold and go digital
  1995: Amazon.com is the first main online bookstore
  1996: There are more and more texts online
  1997: Multimedia convergence and employment
  1998: Libraries take over the web
  1999: Librarians get digital
  2000: Information is available in many languages
  2001: Copyright, copyleft and Creative Commons
  2002: A web of knowledge
  2003: eBooks are sold worldwide
  2004: Authors are creative on the net
  2005: Google gets interested in ebooks
  2006: Towards a world public digital library
  2007: We read on various electronic devices
  2008: "A common information space in which we communicate"

Unless specified otherwise, quotations are excerpts from NEF
interviews .

1971: Doctrine Publishing Corporation IS THE FIRST DIGITAL LIBRARY

= [Overview]

The first ebook was available in July 1971, as eText #1 of
Doctrine Publishing Corporation, a visionary project launched by Michael Hart
to create electronic versions of literary works and disseminate
them worldwide. In the 16th century, Gutenberg allowed anyone
to have print books for a small cost. In the 21st century,
Doctrine Publishing Corporation would allow anyone to have a digital library
at no cost. Its critics long considered Doctrine Publishing Corporation as
impossible on a large scale. But Michael went on keying book
after book during many years, with the occasional help of some
volunteers. Doctrine Publishing Corporation got its first boost with the
invention of the web in 1990 and its second boost with the
creation of Distributed Proofreaders in 2000, to help
digitizing books from public domain. In 2008, Doctrine Publishing Corporation
had a production rate of 340 new books each month, 40 mirror
sites worldwide, and books being downloaded by the tens of
thousands every day. There have been Doctrine Publishing Corporation websites
in the U.S, in Australia, in Europe and in Canada, with more
websites to come in other countries.

= From 1971 until now

# Beginning

As recalled by Michael Hart in January 2009 in an email
interview: "On July 4, 1971, while still a freshman at the
University of Illinois (UI), I decided to spend the night at
the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the UI Materials Research Lab,
rather than walk miles home in the summer heat, only to come
back hours later to start another day of school. I stopped on
the way to do a little grocery shopping to get through the
night, and day, and along with the groceries they put in the
faux parchment copy of 'The U.S. Declaration of Independence'
that became quite literally the cornerstone of Project
Gutenberg. That night, as it turned out, I received my first
computer account - I had been hitchhiking on my brother's best
friend's name, who ran the computer on the night shift.  When I
got a first look at the huge amount of computer money I was
given, I decided I had to do something extremely worthwhile to
do justice to what I had been given. This was such a serious,
and intense thought process for a college freshman, my first
thought was that I had better eat something to get up enough
energy to think of something worthwhile enough to repay the
cost of all that computer time. As I emptied out groceries, the
faux parchment Declaration of Independence fell out, and the
light literally went on over my head like in the cartoons and
comics... I knew what the future of computing, and the
internet, was going to be... 'The Information Age.' The rest,
as they say, is history."

Michael decided to search the books from public domain
available in our libraries, digitize these books, and store the
electronic books (ebooks) in the simplest way, using the low
set of ASCII - called Plain Vanilla ASCII - for them to be read
on any hardware and software. A book would become a continuous
text file instead of a set of pages, with caps for the terms in
italic, bold or underlined of the print version. As a text
file, a book would be easily copied, indexed, searched,
analyzed and compared with other books. (Doing such searches is
much harder in various markup formats.)

Doctrine Publishing Corporation's mission would be the following: to put at
everyone's disposal, in electronic versions, as many literary
works from public domain as possible for free. Years later, in
August 1998, Michael wrote in an email interview: "We consider
etext to be a new medium, with no real relationship to paper,
other than presenting the same material, but I don't see how
paper can possibly compete once people each find their own
comfortable way to etexts, especially in schools."

After keying in "The U.S. Declaration of Independence" in 1971,
Michael typed in "The U.S. Bill of Rights" in 1972. A volunteer
typed in "The United States Constitution" in 1973.

# Persevering

From one year to the next, disk space was getting larger, by
the standards of the time - there was no hard disk yet -,
making it possible to store larger files. Volunteers began
typing in the Bible, with one individual book at a time, and a
file for each book. Michael typed in the collected works of
Shakespeare, with the help of volunteers, one play at a time,
and a file for each play. This edition of Shakespeare was never
released, unfortunately, due to changes in copyright law.
Shakespeare's works belong to public domain, but comments and
notes may be copyrighted, depending on the publication date.
Other editions of Shakespeare from public domain were posted a
few years later.

# 10 to 1,000 ebooks

In August 1989, Doctrine Publishing Corporation completed its 10th ebook,
"The King James Bible" (1769), both testaments, and 5 M for all

In 1990, there were 250,000 internet users. The web was in its
infancy. The standard was 360 K disks.

In January 1991, Michael typed in "Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland" (1865), by Lewis Carroll. In July 1991, he typed in
"Peter Pan" (1904), by James M. Barrie. These two classics of
childhood literature each fit on one disk.

The first browser, Mosaic, was released in November 1993. It
became easier to circulate etexts and recruit volunteers. From
1991 to 1996, the number of ebooks doubled every year, with one
book per month in 1991, two books per month in 1992, four books
per month in 1993, and eight books per month in 1994.

In January 1994, Doctrine Publishing Corporation released "The Complete Works
of William Shakespeare" as eBook #100. Shakespeare wrote most
works between 1590 and 1613.

The steady growth went on, with an average of 8 books per month
in 1994, 16 books per month in 1995, and 32 books per month in

In June 1997, Doctrine Publishing Corporation released "The Merry Adventures
of Robin Hood" (1883), by Howard Pyle.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation had 1,000 ebooks in August 1997. eBook #1000
was "La Divina Commedia" de Dante Alighieri (1321), in Italian,
its original language.

As there were more and more ebooks, they got classified in
three main sections: (a) "Light Literature", such as "Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland", "Through the Looking-Glass", "Peter
Pan" and "Aesop's Fables"; (b) "Heavy Literature", such as the
Bible, Shakespeare's works, "Moby Dick" and "Paradise Lost";
(c) "Reference Literature", such as "Roget's Thesaurus",
almanacs, and a set of encyclopedias and dictionaries. (This
classification in three sections was replaced later with a more
detailed one.)

"Light Literature" was the main section in number of ebooks. As
explained on the website in 1998, "The Light Literature
Collection is designed to get persons to the computer in the
first place, whether the person may be a pre-schooler or a
great-grandparent. We love it when we hear about kids or
grandparents taking each other to an etext of 'Peter Pan' when
they come back from watching Hook at the movies, or when they
read 'Alice in Wonderland' after seeing it on TV. We have also
been told that nearly every Star Trek movie has quoted current
Doctrine Publishing Corporation etext releases (from 'Moby Dick' in 'The
Wrath of Khan'; a Peter Pan quote finishing up the most recent,
etc.) not to mention a reference to 'Through the Looking-Glass'
in JFK. This was a primary concern when we chose the books for
our libraries. We want people to be able to look up quotations
they heard in conversation, movies, music, other books, easily
with a library containing all these quotations in an easy-to-
find etext format."

Doctrine Publishing Corporation has selected books intended for the general
public. It has not focused on providing authoritative editions.
"We do not write for the reader who cares whether a certain
phrase in Shakespeare has a ':' or a ';' between its clauses.
We put our sights on a goal to release etexts that are 99.9%
accurate in the eyes of the general reader. Given the
preferences our proofreaders have, and the general lack of
reading ability the public is currently reported to have, we
probably exceed those requirements by a significant amount.
However, for the person who wants an 'authoritative edition' we
will have to wait some time until this becomes more feasible.
We do, however, intend to release many editions of Shakespeare
and the other classics for comparative study on a scholarly

In August 1998, Michael Hart wrote in an email interview: "My
own personal goal is to put 10,000 etexts on the net [this goal
was reached in October 2003] and if I can get some major
support, I would like to expand that to 1,000,000 and to also
expand our potential audience for the average etext from 1.x%
of the world population to over 10%, thus changing our goal
from giving away 1,000,000,000,000 etexts to 1,000 times as
many, a trillion and a quadrillion in U.S. terminology."

# 1,000 to 10,000 ebooks

From 1998 to 2000, the "output" was an average of 36 books per

Doctrine Publishing Corporation reached 2,000 ebooks in May 1999. eBook #2000
was "Don Quijote" (1605), by Cervantes, in Spanish, its
original language.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation reached 3,000 ebooks in December 2000. eBook
#3000 was "A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs" (In the
Shadow of Young Girls in Flower), vol. 3 (1919), by Marcel
Proust, in French, its original language.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation reached 4,000 ebooks in October 2001. eBook
#4000 was "The French Immortals Series" (1905), in English.
This book is an anthology of short fictions by authors from the
French Academy (Académie française): Emile Souvestre, Pierre
Loti, Hector Malot, Charles de Bernard, Alphonse Daudet, and

Doctrine Publishing Corporation reached 5,000 ebooks in April 2002. eBook
#5000 was "The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci" (early 16th
century). Since its release, this ebook has stayed in the Top
100 of downloaded books.

In 1988, Michael Hart chose to type in "Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland" and "Peter Pan" because they would each fit on one
360 K disk, the standard of the time. In 2002, the standard
disk was 1.44 M and could be compressed as a ZIP file.

A practical file size is about 3 million characters, more than
long enough for the average book. The ASCII version of a 300-
page novel is 1 M. A bulky book can fit in two ASCII files,
that can be downloaded as is or in ZIP format. An average of 50
hours is necessary to get an ebook selected, copyright-cleared,
scanned, proofread, formatted and assembled.

A few numbers are reserved for "special" books. For example,
eBook #1984 is reserved for George Orwell's classic, published
in 1949, and still a long way from falling into public domain.

The "output" in 2001 and 2002 was an average of 100 books per

In spring 2002, Doctrine Publishing Corporation's ebooks represented 25% of
all the public domain works freely available on the web, an
impressive result if we think of all the pages that were
scanned and proofread by thousands of volunteers in several

1,000 ebooks in August 1997, 2,000 ebooks in May 1999, 3,000
ebooks in December 2000, 4,000 ebooks in October 2001, 5,000
ebooks in April 2002, 10,000 ebooks in October 2003. eBook
#10000 was The Magna Carta, signed in 1215 and known as the
first English constitutional text.

From April 2002 to October 2003, in 18 months, the collections
doubled, going from 5,000 ebooks to 10,000 ebooks, with a
monthly average of 300 new ebooks. The fast growth was the work
of Distributed Proofreaders, a website launched in October 2000
by Charles Franks to share the proofreading of books between
many volunteers. Volunteers choose one of the books available
on the site and proofread a given page. It is recommended they
do a page per day if possible.

Books were also copied on CDs and DVDs. As blank CDs and DVDs
cost next to nothing, Doctrine Publishing Corporation began burning and
sending a free CD or DVD to anyone asking for it. People were
encouraged to make copies for a friend, a library or a school.
Released in August 2003, the "Best of Gutenberg" CD contained
600 ebooks. The first Doctrine Publishing Corporation DVD was released in
December 2003 to celebrate the first 10,000 ebooks, with the
burning of most titles (9,400 ebooks).

# 10,000 to 20,000 ebooks

In December 2003, there were 11,000 ebooks, which represented
110 G, in several formats (ASCII, HTML, PDF and others, as is
or zipped). In May 2004, there were 12,600 ebooks, with
represented 135 G. With more than 300 new books added per month
(338 books per month in 2004), the number of gigabytes was
expected to double every year.

The Doctrine Publishing Corporation Consortia Center (PGCC) was affiliated
with Doctrine Publishing Corporation in 2003, and became an official Project
Gutenberg site. Since 1997, PGCC had been working on gathering
collections of existing ebooks, as a complement to Project
Gutenberg focusing on the production of ebooks.

In January 2005, Doctrine Publishing Corporation had 15,000 ebooks. eBook
#15000 was "The Life of Reason" (1906), by George Santayana.

What about languages? There were ebooks in 25 languages in
February 2004, and in 42 languages in July 2005, including
Sanskrit and the Mayan languages. The seven top languages -
with more than 50 books - were English (with 14,548 ebooks on
July 27, 2005), French (577 ebooks), German (349 ebooks),
Finnish (218 ebooks), Dutch (130 ebooks), Spanish (103 ebooks),
and Chinese (69 ebooks). There were ebooks in 50 languages in
December 2006. The ten top languages were English (with 17,377
books on December 16, 2006), French (966 books), German (412
books), Finnish (344 books), Dutch (244 books), Spanish (140
books), Italian (102 books), Chinese (69 books), Portuguese (68
books), and Tagalog (51 books).

Doctrine Publishing Corporation was also spreading worldwide.

In July 2005, Doctrine Publishing Corporation Australia (launched in 2001)
had 500 ebooks.

In Europe, Project Rastko, based in Belgrade, Serbia, launched
Distributed Proofreaders Europe (DP Europe) in December 2003
and Doctrine Publishing Corporation Europe (PG Europe) in January 2004.
Doctrine Publishing Corporation Europe released its first 100 ebooks in June
2005. These books were in several languages, as a reflection of
European linguistic diversity, with 100 languages planned for
the long term.

New teams were working on launching Doctrine Publishing Corporation Canada,
Doctrine Publishing Corporation Portugal and Project Gutenberg Philippines.

In December 2006, Doctrine Publishing Corporation had 20,000 ebooks. eBook
#20000 was the audiobook of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the
Sea" (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, 1869), by Jules Verne,
in its English version.

If 32 years were necessary to digitize the first 10,000 books -
between July 1971 and October 2003 -, 3 years and 2 months were
necessary to digitize the following 10,000 books - between
October 2003 and December 2006.

The section Doctrine Publishing Corporation PrePrints was set up in January
2006 to collect items submitted to Doctrine Publishing Corporation which were
interesting enough to be available online, but not ready yet to
be added to the main Doctrine Publishing Corporation collections, the reason
being missing data, low-quality files, formats which were not
handy, etc. This new section had 379 files in December 2006.

# Tens of thousands of ebooks

In December 2006, Mike Cook launched Doctrine Publishing Corporation News as
the existing weekly and monthly newsletters. It has showed for
example the weekly, monthly and yearly production stats since

The weekly production was 24 ebooks in 2001, 47 ebooks in 2002,
79 ebooks in 2003, 78 ebooks in 2004, 58 ebooks in 2005, 80
ebooks in 2006, and 78 ebooks in 2007.

The monthly production was 104 ebooks in 2001, 203 ebooks in
2002, 348 ebooks in 2003, 338 ebooks in 2004, 252 ebooks in
2005, 345 ebooks in 2006, and 338 books in 2007.

The yearly production was 1,244 ebooks in 2001, 2,432 ebooks in
2002, 4,176 ebooks in 2003, 4,058 ebooks in 2004, 3,019 ebooks
in 2005, 4,141 ebooks in 2006, and 4,049 ebooks in 2007.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation Australia reached 1,500 ebooks in April 2007.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation Canada (PGC) was founded on July 1st, 2007,
on Canada Day, by Michael Shepard and David Jones. Distributed
Proofreaders Canada (DPC) started production in December 2007.
There were 100 ebooks in March 2008, in English, French and

Doctrine Publishing Corporation sent out 15 million ebooks via CDs and DVDs
by snail mail in 2007. A new DVD released in July 2006 included
17,000 ebooks. CD and DVD files have also been generated as ISO
files (since 2005) to be downloaded for burning CDs or DVDs on
a CD or DVD writer.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation reached 25,000 books in April 2008. eBook
#25000 was "English Book Collectors" (1902), by William Younger

If Gutenberg allowed everyone to get print books at little
cost, Doctrine Publishing Corporation has allowed everyone to get a library
of electronic books at no cost on a cheap device like a USB

In February 2009, there were 32,500 Doctrine Publishing Corporation (PG)
ebooks, including the ebooks at PG Australia (1,750 ebooks), PG
Europe (600 ebooks) and PG Canada (250 ebooks), with more
Doctrine Publishing Corporation websites to come in other countries. Ten new
ebooks have been added per day.

As explained by Michael Hart: "In addition, there is
'PrePrints' where we put anything we don't know for sure will
qualify as a PG ebook. This gets instant exposure, and was
created to help keep things flowing. There are 2,020 ebooks
available at PrePrints. The Doctrine Publishing Corporation Consortia Center
(PGCC) has over 75,000 ebooks rendered as PDF files. The
difference? These files were prepared by other eLibraries, not
Doctrine Publishing Corporation, and are using our worldwide distribution
network to be seen. Thus, counting these 75,000+ along with our
over 32,500 other ebooks, has generated a grand total of over
100,000 ebooks."

= From the past to the future

The bet made by Michael Hart in 1971 succeeded. But Project
Gutenberg's results are not only measured in numbers. The
results can also be measured in the major influence the project
has had. As the oldest producer of free books on the internet,
Doctrine Publishing Corporation has inspired many other digital libraries,
for example Projekt Runeberg for classic Nordic (Scandinavian)
literature and Projekt Gutenberg-DE for classic German
literature, to name only two, which started respectively in
1992 and 1994.

Projekt Runeberg was the first Swedish digital library of books
from public domain, and a partner of Doctrine Publishing Corporation. It was
initiated in December 1992 by the students' computer club
Lysator, in cooperation with Linköping University, as a
volunteer project to create and collect free electronic
editions of classic Nordic literature and art. Around 200
ebooks were available in full text in 1998. There was also a
list of 6,000 Nordic authors as a tool for further collection

Projekt Gutenberg-DE was the first German digital library of
books from public domain, created in 1994 as a partner of
Doctrine Publishing Corporation. Texts were available for online reading,
with one webpage for short texts and with several webpages -
one per chapter - for longer works. There was an alphabetic
list of authors and titles, and a short biography and
bibliography for each author.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation keeps its administrative and financial
structure to the bare minimum. Its motto fits into three words:
"Less is more." The minimal rules give much space to volunteers
and to new ideas. The goal is to ensure its independence from
loans and other funding and from ephemeral cultural priorities,
to avoid pressure from politicians and others. The aim is also
to ensure respect for the volunteers, who can be confident
their work will be used not just for decades but for centuries.
Volunteers can network through mailing lists, weekly or monthly
newsletters, discussion lists, forums and wikis.

Donations are used to buy equipment and supplies, mostly
computers, scanners and blank CDs and DVDs. Founded in 2000,
the PGLAF (Doctrine Publishing Corporation Literary Archive Foundation) has
only three part-time employees.

More generally, Michael Hart should be given more credit as the
inventor of the electronic book (ebook). If we consider the
ebook in its etymological sense - that is to say a book that
has been digitized to be distributed as an electronic file - it
was born with Doctrine Publishing Corporation in July 1971. This is a much
more comforting paternity than the various commercial
launchings in proprietary formats that peppered the early
2000s. There is no reason for the term "ebook" to be the
monopoly of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Gemstar, and others. The
non-commercial ebook is a full ebook, and not a "poor" version,
just as non-commercial electronic publishing is a fully-fledged
way of publishing, and is as valuable as commercial electronic
publishing. Doctrine Publishing Corporation etexts - the term used originally
- have been renamed ebooks, to use the recent terminology in
the field.

In July 1971, sending a 5K file to 100 people would have
crashed the network of the time. In November 2002, Project
Gutenberg could post the 75 files of the "Human Genome
Project", with files of dozens or hundreds of megabytes,
shortly after its initial release in February 2001 as a work
from public domain. In 2004, a computer hard disk costing US
$140 could potentially hold the entire Library of Congress. And
we probably are only a few years away from a USB drive - or an
equivalent storage disk - capable of holding all the books on
our planet.

What about documents other than text? In September 2003,
Doctrine Publishing Corporation launched Project Gutenberg Audio eBooks, with
human-read ebooks. Computer-generated ebooks are "converted"
when requested from the existing electronic files in the main
collections. Voice-activated requests will be possible in the
future. Launched at the same time, the Sheet Music Subproject
contains digitized music sheet, as well as a few music
recordings. Some still pictures and moving pictures are also
available. These collections should take off in the future.

But digitizing books remains the priority, and there is a big
demand, as confirmed by the tens of thousands of books that are
downloaded every day.

For example, on July 31, 2005, there were 37,532 downloads for
the day, 243,808 downloads for the week, and 1,154,765
downloads for the month.

On May 6, 2007, there were 89,841 downloads for the day,
697,818 downloads for the week, and 2,995,436 downloads for the

On May 8, 2008, there were 115,138 downloads for the day,
714,323 downloads for the week, and 3,055,327 downloads for the

of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), the main distribution site,
Archive is the backup distribution site and provides unlimited
disk space for storage and processing. Doctrine Publishing Corporation has 40
mirror sites in many countries and is seeking new ones. It also
encourages the use of P2P for sharing its books.

People can also choose ebooks from the "Top 100", i.e. the top
100 ebooks and the top 100 authors for the previous day, the
last 7 days and the last 30 days.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation ebooks can also help bridge the "digital
divide". They can be read on an outdated computer or a second-
hand PDA costing just a few dollars. Solar-powered PDAs offer a
good solution in remote regions.

It is hoped machine translation software will be able to
convert the books from one to another of 100 languages. In ten
years from now (August 2009), machine translation may be judged
99% satisfactory - research is active on that front - allowing
for the reading of literary classics in a choice of many
languages. Doctrine Publishing Corporation is also interested in combining
translation software and human translators, somewhat as OCR
software is now combined with the work of proofreaders.

38 years after the beginning of Doctrine Publishing Corporation, Michael Hart
describes himself as a workaholic who has devoted his entire
life to his project. He considers himself a pragmatic and
farsighted altruist. For years he was regarded as a nut but now
he is respected. He wants to change the world through freely-
available ebooks that can be used and copied endlessly, and
reading and culture for everyone at minimal cost.

Doctrine Publishing Corporation's mission can be stated in eight words: "To
encourage the creation and distribution of ebooks," by
everybody, and by every possible means, while implementing new
ideas, new methods and new software.


= [Overview]

The internet was born in 1974 with the creation of TCP/IP
(Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) by Vinton
Cerf and Bob Kahn. It began spreading in 1983. The internet got
its first boost with the invention of the web by Tim Berners-
Lee at CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) in 1989-90,
and its second boost with the release of the first browser
Mosaic in 1993. The internet could now be used by anyone, and
not only by computer literate users. There were 100 million
internet users in December 1997, with one million new users per
month, and 300 million internet users in December 2000. In
summer 2000, the number of non-English-speaking users reached
50%, and went on to increase then. According to Netcraft, the
number of websites went from one million (April 1997) to 10
million (February 2000), 20 million (September 2000), 30
million (July 2001), 40 million (April 2003), 50 million (May
2004), 60 million (March 2005), 70 million (August 2005), 80
million (April 2006), 90 million (August 2006) and 100 million
(November 2006).

= The internet and the web

When Doctrine Publishing Corporation began in July 1971, the internet was
just a glimmer. The pre-internet was created in the U.S. in
1969, as a network set up by the Pentagon. The internet took
off in 1974 with the creation of TCP/IP by Vinton Cerf and Bob
Kahn. It expanded as a network linking U.S. governmental
agencies, universities and research centers.

After the invention of the web in 1989-90 by Tim Berners-Lee at
CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research), Geneva,
Switzerland, and the release of the first browser, Mosaic (the
ancestor of Netscape), in November 1993, the internet began
spreading, first in the U.S. because of investments made by the
government, then in North America, and then worldwide. Because
the web was easy to use, linking documents and pages with
hyperlinks, the internet could now be used by anyone, and not
only by computer literate users. There were 100 million
internet users in December 1997, with one million new users per
month, and 300 million internet users in December 2000.

Why did the internet spread in North America first? The U.S.
and Canada were leading the way in computer science and
communication technology, and a connection to the internet –
mainly through a phone line - was much cheaper than in most
countries. In Europe, avid internet users needed to navigate
the web at night - when phone rates by the minute were cheaper
- to cut their expenses. In 1998, some users in France, Italy
and Germany launched a movement to boycott the internet one day
per week, for internet providers and phone companies to set up
a special monthly rate. This action paid off, and providers
began to offer "internet rates".

Christiane Jadelot, a French engineer at INaLF-Nancy (INaLF:
National Institute for the French Language), wrote in July
1998: "I began to really use the internet in 1994, with a
browser called Mosaic. I found it a very useful way of
improving my knowledge of computers, linguistics, literature...
everything. I was finding the best and the worst, but as a
discerning user, I had to sort it all out, and make choices. I
particularly liked the software for email, file transfers and
dial-up connections. At that time I had problems with a program
called Paradox and character sets that I couldn't use. I tried
my luck and threw out a question in a specialist news group. I
got answers from all over the world. Everyone seemed to want to
solve my problem!"

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded in October 1994
to develop interoperable technologies (specifications,
guidelines, software, and tools) for the web, for example
specifications for markup languages (HTML, XML, and others),
and to act as a forum for information, commerce, communication
and collective understanding.

The "Technorealism" movement started on the web in March 1998.
Technorealism was "an attempt to assess the social and
political implications of technologies so that we might all
have more control over the shape of our future. The heart of
the technorealist approach involves a continuous critical
examination of how technologies - whether cutting-edge or
mundane - might help or hinder us in the struggle to improve
the quality of our personal lives, our communities, and our
economic, social, and political structures" (excerpt from the
website). The document Technorealism Overview was approved by
hundreds of people signing their names. It stated that,
"regardless of how advanced our computers become, we should
never use them as a substitute for our own basic cognitive
skills of awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment."

= The internet and other media

In 1998, people were also wondering whether the print media and
the internet would be antagonistic or complementary. Would the
internet swallow up the print media? Would the internet get the
top place in the hearts of people buying books or subscribing
to magazines? The internet was about to change books and other
media in a sweeping way, like the printing presses in the past.
Authors, booksellers, librarians, printers, publishers and
translators were watching the storm, or participating in it in
heated debates on copyright issues and distribution control.

In some African countries, the internet meant more information.
The number of newspapers was very low compared to the
population figures. Each copy was read by at least twenty
people. In January 1997, during the Symposium on Multimedia
Convergence organized by the International Labor Organization
(ILO), Wilfred Kiboro, managing director of Nation Printers and
Publishers, in Kenya, expressed the idea of a printing system
through a satellite internet connection, instead of carrying
newspapers every day by truck all over the country. This
printing system would mean cheaper distribution costs, and a
drop in the price of newspapers.

Did the internet compete with television and reading? In
Quebec, 30.7% of the population was connected to the internet
in March 1998. A poll showed that 28.8% of internet users were
watching television less than before, but only 12.1% were
reading less. As stated by the online magazine Multimédium in
April 1998, this was "rather encouraging for the department of
Culture and Communications which has the double task of
furthering the development of information highways... and

According to a survey for Online MSNBC in February 1998, the
internet - as a new medium - was well liked, matching and
sometimes surpassing other media. Merrill Brown, editor-in-
chief of Online MSNBC, wrote in Internet Wire of February 1998:
"The internet news usage behavior pattern is shaping up similar
to broadcast television in terms of weekday use, and is used
more than cable television, newspapers and magazines during
that same period of time. Additionally, on Saturdays, the
internet is used more than broadcast television, radio or
newspapers, and on a weekly basis has nearly the same hours of
use as newspapers." People were spending 2.4 hours per week
reading magazines, 3.5 hours surfing the web, 3.6 hours reading
newspapers, 4.5 hours listening the radio, 5 hours watching
cable TV, and 5.7 hours watching broadcast TV.

Jean-Pierre Cloutier was the editor of "Chroniques de Cybérie",
a weekly French-language online report of internet news. When
interviewed in fall 1997 by François Lemelin, chief-editor of
"L'Album", a magazine from Club Macintosh of Quebec, he
expressed his views about the internet as a medium: "I think
the medium is going to continue being essential, and then give
birth to original, precise, specific services, by which time we
will have found an economic model of viability. For information
cybermedia like "Chroniques de Cybérie" as well as for info-
services, community and online public services, electronic
commerce, distance learning, the post-modern policy which is
going to change the elected representatives / principals, in
fact, everything is coming around. (...) Concerning the
relationship with other media, I think we need to look
backwards. Contrary to the words of alarmists in previous
times, radio didn't kill music or the entertainment industry
any more than the cinema did. Television didn't kill radio or
cinema. Nor did home videos. When a new medium arrives, it
makes some room for itself, the others adjust, there is a
transition period, then a 'convergence'. What is different with
the internet is the interactive dimension of the medium and its
possible impact. We are still thinking about that, we are
watching to see what happens.

Also, as a medium, the net allows the emergence of new concepts
in the field of communication, and on the human level, too -
even for non-connected people. I remember when McLuhan arrived,
at the end of the sixties, with his concept of 'global village'
basing itself on television and telephone, and he was
predicting data exchange between computers. There were people,
in Africa, without television and telephone, who read and
understood McLuhan. And McLuhan changed things in their vision
of the world. The internet has the same effect. It gives rise
to some thinking on communication, private life, freedom of
expression, the values we are attached to, and those we are
ready to get rid of, and it is this effect which makes it such
a powerful, important medium."

= "The dream behind the web"

Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in 1990. Pierre Ruetschi, a
journalist for the Swiss daily Tribune de Genève, asked him in
December 1997: "Seven years later, are you satisfied with the
way the web has evolved?". He answered that, if he was pleased
with the richness and diversity of information, the web still
lacked the power planned in its original design. He would like
"the web to be more interactive, and people to be able to
create information together", and not only to be consumers of
information. The web was supposed to become a "medium for
collaboration, a world of knowledge that we share."

In a short essay posted on his webpage, Tim Berners-Lee wrote
in May 1998: "The dream behind the web is of a common
information space in which we communicate by sharing
information. Its universality is essential: the fact that a
hypertext link can point to anything, be it personal, local or
global, be it draft or highly polished. There was a second part
of the dream, too, dependent on the web being so generally used
that it became a realistic mirror (or in fact the primary
embodiment) of the ways in which we work and play and
socialize. That was that once the state of our interactions was
online, we could then use computers to help us analyse it, make
sense of what we are doing, where we individually fit in, and
how we can better work together." (excerpt from: "The World
Wide Web: A very short personal history", available on the W3C


= [Overview]

Founded in 1993 by John Mark Ockerbloom while he was a student
at Carnegie Mellon University (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania),
The Online Books Page is "a website that facilitates access to
books that are freely readable over the internet. It also aims
to encourage the development of such online books, for the
benefit and edification of all." John Mark first maintained
this page on the website of the School of Computer Science of
Carnegie Mellon University. In 1999, he moved it to its present
location at the University of Pennsylvania Library, where he is
a digital library planner and researcher. The Online Books Page
offered links to 12,000 books in 1999, 20,000 books in 2003
(including 4,000 books published by women), 25,000 books in
2006, and 30,000 books in 2008. The books "have been authored,
placed online, and hosted by a wide variety of individuals and
groups throughout the world", with 7,000 books from Project
Gutenberg. The FAQ also gives copyright information about most
countries in the world with links to further reading.

= [In Depth]

In 1993, the web was still in its infancy, with Mosaic as its
first browser. John Mark Ockerbloom was a graduate student at
the School of Computer Science (CS) of Carnegie Mellon
University (CMU, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). He created The
Online Books Page as "a website that facilitates access to
books that are freely readable over the internet. It also aims
to encourage the development of such online books, for the
benefit and edification of all." (excerpt from the website)

In September 1998, John Mark wrote in an email interview: "I
was the original webmaster here at CMU CS, and started our
local web in 1993. The local web included pages pointing to
various locally developed resources, and originally The Online
Books Page was just one of these pages, containing pointers to
some books put online by some of the people in our department.
(Robert Stockton had made web versions of some of Project
Gutenberg's texts.) After a while, people started asking about
books at other sites, and I noticed that a number of sites (not
just Gutenberg, but also Wiretap and some other places) had
books online, and that it would be useful to have some listing
of all of them, so that you could go to one place to download
or view books from all over the net. So that's how my index got
started. I eventually gave up the webmaster job in 1996, but
kept The Online Books Page, since by then I'd gotten very
interested in the great potential the net had for making
literature available to a wide audience. At this point there
are so many books going online that I have a hard time keeping
up (and in fact have a large backlog of books to list). But I
hope to keep up my online books works in some form or another.
I am very excited about the potential of the internet as a mass
communication medium in the coming years. I'd also like to stay
involved, one way or another, in making books available to a
wide audience for free via the net, whether I make this
explicitly part of my professional career, or whether I just do
it as a spare-time volunteer."

In 1998, there was an index of 7,000 etexts that could be
browsed by author, title or subject. There were also pointers
to significant directories and archives of online texts, and to
special exhibits. From the main search page, users could search
in four types of media: books, music, art, and video.

"Along with books, The Online Books Page is also now listing
major archives of serials (such as magazines, published
journals, and newspapers) (...). Serials can be at least as
important as books in library research. Serials are often the
first places that new research and scholarship appear. They are
sources for firsthand accounts of contemporary events and
commentary. They are also often the first (and sometimes the
only) place that quality literature appears. (For those who
might still quibble about serials being listed on a 'books
page', back issues of serials are often bound and reissued as
hardbound 'books'.)" (excerpt from the 1998 website)

In 1999, after graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Ph.D. in
computer science, John Mark moved to work as a digital library
planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania
Library. He also moved The Online Books Page there, kept it as
clear and simple, and went on expanding it.

The Online Books Page offered links to 12,000 ebooks in 1999,
20,000 ebooks in 2003 (including 4,000 ebooks published by
women), 25,000 ebooks in 2006, and 30,000 ebooks in 2008. The
books "have been authored, placed online, and hosted by a wide
variety of individuals and groups throughout the world", with
7,000 books from Doctrine Publishing Corporation. The FAQ lists copyright
information about most countries in the world, with links to
further reading.


= [Overview]

Some bold publishers decided to use the web as a marketing
tool. In the U.S., NAP (National Academy Press) was the first
publisher in 1994 to post the full text of some books, for
free, with the authors' consent. NAP was followed by MIT Press
in 1995. Michael Hart, founder of Doctrine Publishing Corporation, wrote in
1997: "As university publishers struggle to find the right
business model for offering scholarly documents online, some
early innovators are finding that making a monograph available
electronically can boost sales of hard copies" (excerpt from
the Doctrine Publishing Corporation Newsletter of October 1997). Digital
publishing became mainstream in 1997. Digitization accelerated
the publication process. Editors, designers and other
contributors could all work at the same time on the same book.
For educational, academic and scientific publications, digital
publishing was a cheaper solution than print books, with
regular updates to include the latest information.

= Publishers get bold

Some publishers decided to use the web as a marketing tool. In
the U.S., NAP (National Academy Press) was the first publisher
in 1994 to post the full text of some books, for free, with the
authors' consent. NAP was followed by MIT Press (MIT:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1995.

NAP was created by the National Academy of Sciences to publish
its own reports and the ones of the National Academy of
Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National
Research Council. In 1994, NAP was publishing 200 new books a
year in science, engineering, and health. The new NAP Reading
Room offered 1,000 entire books, available online for free in
various formats: "image" format, HTML format and PDF format.
Oddly enough, there was no drop in sales - on the contrary,
sales increased.

In 1995, MIT Press was publishing 200 new books per year and 40
journals, in science and technology, architecture, social
theory, economics, cognitive science, and computational
science. MIT Press also decided to put a number of books online
for free, as "a long-term commitment to the efficient and
creative use of new technologies". Sales of print books with a
free online version increased.

Michael Hart, founder of Doctrine Publishing Corporation, wrote in 1997: "As
university publishers struggle to find the right business model
for offering scholarly documents online, some early innovators
are finding that making a monograph available electronically
can boost sales of hard copies. The National Academy Press has
already put 1,700 of its books online, and is finding that the
electronic versions of some books have boosted sales of the
hard copy monographs - often by two to three times the previous
level. It's 'great advertising', says the Press's director. The
MIT Press is experiencing similar results: 'For each of our
electronic books, we've approximately doubled our sales. The
plain fact is that no one is going to sit there and read a
whole book online. And it costs money and time to download
it'." (excerpt from the Doctrine Publishing Corporation Newsletter of October

= Publishers go digital

Digital publishing became mainstream in 1997, as the latest
trend in the many changes underwent by traditional publishing
since the 1970s. Traditional printing was first disrupted by
new photocomposition machines, with lower costs. Text and image
processing began to be handed over to desktop publishing and
graphic art studios. Impression costs went on decreasing with
photocopiers, color photocopiers and digital printing.
Digitization also accelerated the publication process. Editors,
designers and other contributors could all work at the same
time on the same book.

For educational, academic and scientific publications, online
publishing became a cheaper solution than print books, with
regular updates to include the latest information. Readers
didn't need any more to wait for a new printed edition, often
postponed if not cancelled because of commercial constraints.
Some universities began to create their own textbooks online,
with chapters selected in an extensive database, as well as
papers and comments from professors. For a seminar, a few print
copies could be made upon request, with a selection of online
articles sent to a printer.

Digital publishing and traditional publishing became
complementary. The frontier between the two supports -
electronic and paper - began to vanish. Recent print media
already stem from an electronic version anyway, on a word
processor, a spreadsheet or a database. More and more documents
became "only" electronic, and more and more print books were
digitized to be included in digital libraries and bookstores.

In the mid-1990s, though, there was no proof that electronic
documents would make us paperless in the near future, and save
some trees. Many people still needed a print version for easier
reading, or for their archives, in the fear the electronic file
would be accidentally deleted. We were still a transition
period, from paper to digital.


= [Overview]

The online bookstore Amazon.com was launched by Jeff Bezos in
July 1995, in Seattle, on the West coast of the U.S., after a
market study which led him to conclude that books were the best
"products" to sell on the internet. When Amazon.com started, it
had 10 employees and a catalog of 3 million books. Unlike
traditional bookstores, Amazon doesn't have windows looking out
on the street and books skillfully lined up on shelves or piled
upon displays. The "virtual" windows are its webpages, with all
transactions made through the internet. Books are stored in
huge storage facilities before being put into boxes and sent by
mail. In November 2000, Amazon had 7,500 employees, a catalog
of 28 million items, 23 million clients worldwide and four
subsidiaries in United Kingdom (launched in August 1998),
Germany (August 1998), France (August 2000) and Japan (November
2000). A fifth subsidiary opened in Canada in June 2002, and a
sixth subsidiary, named Joyo, opened in China in September

= Amazon in the U.S.

# First steps

The online bookstore Amazon.com was launched by Jeff Bezos in
July 1995, in Seattle, on the West coast of the U.S., after a
market study which led him to conclude that books were the best
products to sell on the internet. When Amazon.com started, it
had 10 employees and a catalog of 3 million books. Unlike
traditional bookstores, Amazon.com didn't have windows looking
out on the street and books skillfully lined up on shelves or
piled upon displays. The "virtual" windows are its webpages,
with all transactions made through the internet. Books are
stored in huge storage facilities before being put into boxes
and sent by mail.

What exactly was the idea behind Amazon.com? In Spring 1994,
Jeff Bezos drew up a list of twenty products that could be sold
online, ranging from clothing to gardening tools, and then
researched the top five, which were CDs, videos, computer
hardware, computer software, and books.

As recalled by Jeff Bezos in Amazon's press kit (in its 1998
version), "I used a whole bunch of criteria to evaluate the
potential of each product, but among the main criteria was the
size of the relative markets. Books, I found out, were an $82
billion market worldwide. The price point was another major
criterion: I wanted a low-priced product. I reasoned that since
this was the first purchase many people would make online, it
had to be non-threatening in size. A third criterion was the
range of choice: there were 3 million items in the book
category and only a tenth of that in CDs, for example. This was
important because the wider the choice, the more the organizing
and selection capabilities of the computer could be put in good

People could search the online catalog by author, title,
subject, date, or ISBN. The website was offering excerpts from
books, book reviews, customer reviews, and author interviews.
People could "leaf" through extracts and reviews, order some
books online, and pay with their credit card. Books arrived
within a week at their doorstep. As an online retailer,
Amazon.com could offer lower prices than local bookstores, a
larger selection, and a wealth of product information.
Customers could subscribe to a mailing list to get reviews of
new books by their favorite authors, or new books in their
favorite topics, with 44 topics to choose from.

In 1998, there were discounts on 400,000 titles, with 40% on
some feature books, 30% on hardcovers, and 20% on paperbacks.
Amazon.com was also selling CDs, DVDs, audiobooks and computer
games, with 3 million clients in 160 countries, and a catalog
with ten times as many titles as the largest supermarkets'

As mentioned by Jeff Bezos in Amazon's press kit: "Businesses
can do things on the web that simply cannot be done any other
way. We are changing the way people buy books and music. Our
leadership position comes from our obsessive focus on
customers. (...) Customers want selection, ease of use, and the
lowest prices. These are the elements we work hard to provide.
We continued to improve our customer experience during the
quarter [the second quarter 1998] with the opening of our music
store, our easier-to-navigate store layout, and our expansion
into the local U.K. and German book markets. These initiatives
will continue to require aggressive investment and entail
significant execution challenges."

# Expansion

People began buying books across borders. What we take for
granted now - buy a book in Europe from the U.S. website
Amazon.com, or buy a book in the U.S. from the German website
Amazon.de - was making big waves at the time. The local online
bookstores called it "unfair competition".

There were also issues about custom taxes. A first outline
agreement was reached between the U.S. and the European Union
in December 1997. This agreement was followed by an
international convention. The internet was decided a free trade
area, i.e. without any custom taxes for software, films and
digital books bought online. Material goods (books, CDs, DVDs)
and services were subject to existing regulations, with
collection of VAT (value added tax) for example, but with no
additional custom taxes.

On the footsteps of the Internet Bookstore, based in United
Kingdom and the largest online bookstore in Europe, Amazon.com
launched is Associates Program. As stated in a press release
dated June 8, 1998: "The Amazon.com Associates Program allows
website owners to easily participate in hassle-free electronic
commerce by recommending books on their site and referring
visitors to Amazon.com. In return, participants earn referral
fees of up to 15 percent of the sales they generate. Amazon.com
handles the secure online ordering, customer service, and
shipping and sends weekly email sales reports. Enrollment in
the program is free, and participants can be up and running the
same day. Associates range from large and small businesses to
nonprofits, authors, publishers, personal home pages, and more.
The popularity of the program is reflected in the range of
additions to the Associates Community in the past few months:
Adobe, InfoBeat, Kemper Funds, PR Newswire, Travelocity,
Virtual Vineyards, and Xoom." There were 60,000 "associates" in
June 1998.

Barnes & Noble, a leading U.S. bookseller, entered the world of
e-commerce in 1997.

Barnes & Noble had 481 stores nationwide in 1997, in 48 states
out of 50, as well as 520 bookstores (B. Dalton stores) in
shopping malls, and a catalog of 175,000 titles from 20,000
publishers. Barnes & Noble also published books under its own
imprint for exclusive sale through its retail stores - and its
nationwide mail-order catalogs.

Barnes & Noble first launched its America OnLine (AOL) website
in March 1997 - as the exclusive bookseller for the 12 million
AOL customers -, before launching its own website,
barnesandnoble.com, in May 1997. The site was offering reviews
from authors and publishers, with a catalog of 630,000 titles
available for immediate shipping, and significant discounts:
30% off all in-stock hardcovers, 20% off all in-stock
paperbacks, 40% off select titles, and up to 90% off bargain
books. Its Affiliate Network spread quickly, with 12,000
affiliate websites in May 1998, including CNN Interactive,
Lycos and ZDNet.

In May 1998, Barnes & Noble.com launched a revamped website
with a better design, and an Express Lane one-click ordering,
improved book search capabilities, and expanded product
offerings with a new software "superstore". Jeff Killeen, chief
operating officer, stated in a press release dated May 27,
1998: "Through our first year in business we have listened
intently to what our customers have asked for and believe we
have delivered a vastly superior product based on those
requests. (...) Innovation based on customer-focus has been the
hallmark of our success and we see our new site as proof-
positive of our commitment to be the leader in online
bookselling and related products. We're also extremely excited
to have Intel, a leader in the technology products category,
open its SoftwareForPCs.com site at barnesandnoble.com."

Barnes & Noble.com began a fierce price war with Amazon.com for
the best book discounts. Amazon.com came to be known as
"Amazon.toast". Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, didn't mind the
competition. In the magazine Success of July 1998, he explained
to journalist Lesley Hazleton: "The gap has increased rather
than decreased. We went from $60 million annualized sales
revenue in May to $260 million by the end of the year, and from
340,000 customers to 1.5 million, 58 percent of them repeat
customers - all that in the context of 'Amazon.toast'. We're
doing more than eight times the sales of Barnes & Noble. And
we're not a stationary target. We were blessed with a two-year
head start, and our goal is to increase that gap."

= Amazon in Europe

The European presence of Amazon began in October 1998, with the
creation of two subsidiaries in Germany and in United Kingdom.

In August 2000, Amazon had 1.8 million customers in U.K., 1.2
million customers in Germany, and less than 1 million customers
in France. Amazon opened its third subsidiary, Amazon France,
with books, music, DVDs and videos - software and video games
were added later, in June 2001 - and a 48-hour delivery. At the
time, online sales represented only 0.5% of the book market in
France, against 5.4% in the United States.

The opening of Amazon France was announced at the last minute,
on August 23, 2000, after months of secrecy surrounding the
next "American cultural invasion". The French subsidiary opened
in Guyancourt, in the suburbs of Paris, with 100 employees -
some of them trained in the U.S. headquarters in Seattle - for
administration, technical services, and marketing. The
distribution service opened in Boigny-sur-Bionne, near Orleans,
a town in the south of Paris. The customer service landed in
The Hague, Netherlands, because Amazon was expecting to broaden
its European network.

Amazon France had four competitors: Fnac.com, Alapage,
Chapitre.com, and BOL.fr.

Fnac.com was the online branch of Fnac, a network of
"traditional" bookstores spread throughout France and other
European countries, and run by the group Pinault-Printemps-

Alapage was an online bookstore founded in 1996 by Patrice
Magnard, before being bought by France Telecom in September
1999. Alapage became a subsidiary of Wanadoo, the internet
service provider of France Telecom, in July 2000.

Chapitre.com was an independent online bookstore, created in
1997 by Juan Pirlot de Corbion.

BOL.fr was the French subsidiary of BOL.com (BOL: Bertelsmann
On Line), launched in August 1999 by Bertelsmann, a German
media giant, in partnership with Vivendi, a French
multinational company.

Unlike their counterparts in the U.S. and in U.K., where book
prices were free, French online bookstores couldn't offer
significant bargains. A French law - the Lang law - regulated
prices. (Jacques Lang was the ministry of culture who fathered
the law to protect independent bookstores.) The 5% discount
allowed by law for both traditional and online bookstores was
offering little latitude to Amazon.fr, Fnac.com, and the likes,
who were nevertheless optimistic about the prospects offered by
the French-language international market. A significant number
of orders was already coming from abroad, with 10% of orders
for Fnac.com as early as 1997.

Interviewed by AFP (Agence France-Presse) on the Lang Law and
the meager 5% discount allowed for book prices, Denis Terrien,
president of Amazon France (until May 2001), explained in
August 2000: "Our experience in Germany, where book prices are
also regulated, shows that prices are not the main factor for
our customers to purchase books at Amazon. The main factor
resides in the additional services we provide. We offer a whole
bunch of services, beginning with a large choice in our catalog
- we sell all the French cultural products. We have a powerful
search engine. As for music, our site offers the only catalog
searchable by song title. In addition to the editorial content
of our site, which ranges from the one of a traditional
bookstore to the one of a magazine, we have a customer service
24h/24 7days/7, something unique in the French market. Finally,
an additional specificity of Amazon is our commitment for a
fast delivery. We aim to have more than 90% of our products in
stock (at our storage facility)."

Amazon's economic model was already admired by many in Europe,
but could hardly be considered a model too for staff
management, with short-term labor contracts, low wages, and
poor working conditions.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the working conditions of the
European staff, problems began to filter. In November 2000, the
Prewitt Organizing Fund and the French union SUD-PTT Loire
Atlantique launched an awareness campaign among the employees
of Amazon France, after meeting with a group of 50 employees in
the distribution center of Boigny-sur-Bionne. In a statement
following the meeting, SUD-PTT denounced "degraded working
conditions, flexible schedules, short-term labor contracts in
periods of flux, low wages, and minimal social guarantees".
Similar action was conducted in Germany and in U.K. Patrick
Moran, head of the Prewitt Organizing Fund, founded an
employee organization under the name of Alliance of New Economy
Workers. In response, Amazon sent internal memos to its
employees, stressing the pointlessness of unions within the

At the end of January 2001, Amazon, which employed 1,800 people
in Europe, announced a 15% reduction of its European staff. It
also closed its customer service center in The Hague
(Netherlands). Its 240 employees were offered to work in one of
the two other European customer service centers, in Slough
(United Kingdom) and  in Regensberg (Germany).

= Amazon worldwide

The second group of foreign clients - after European customers
- was in Japan. In July 2000, during an international symposium
on information technology in Tokyo, Jeff Bezos announced his
intention to launch Amazon Japan in the near future. He
insisted on the high potential of the Japanese market, with
expensive real estate affecting the prices of goods and
services and, as a result, online shopping being more
convenient than traditional shopping. High population density
would mean easy and cheap home deliveries.

A Japanese call center opened in August 2000 in Sapporo, a city
on the Hokkaido island. Amazon  Japan opened three months
later, in November 2000, as the fourth subsidiary of Amazon and
first non-European subsidiary, with a catalog of 1.1 million
titles in Japanese and 600,000 titles in English. To reduce
delivery times to 24 to 48 hours instead of six weeks for books
published in the U.S., a large distribution center (15,800 m2)
was created in Ichikawa, a town in the east of Tokyo.

In November 2000, Amazon had 7,500 employees, a catalog of 28
million items, and 23 million clients worldwide. It opened its
digital library with 1,000 ebooks, and the promise of many more
titles for soon.

Amazon also began focusing on the French-language market in
Canada. It hired staff knowing the language and the market, to
be able to offer French-language books, music and films (VHS
and DVD) in a Canadian subsidiary. Amazon Canada, the fifth
subsidiary of the company, was finally launched in June 2002
with a bilingual (English, French) website.

Surprisingly, even for the marketing of a main online
bookstore, paper was not dead. For two consecutive years, in
1999 and 2000, Amazon sent a print catalog to its customers (10
million in 2000) before the holiday season.

2001 marked a turning point for the company, with the need to
address the internet bubble affecting the "new" economy and so
many companies. Following a deficit for the fourth quarter
2000, Amazon reduced its workforce by 15% in January 2001.
1,300 employees lost their jobs in the U.S. 270 employees lost
their jobs in Europe. Jeff Bezos decided to diversify the
products sold online, and to sell not only books, videos, CDs
and software, but also health care products, toys, electronics,
kitchen utensils, and garden tools. In November 2001, cultural
products - books, CDs and videos - represented only 58% of
sales, the total of which were US $4 billion, with 29 million

The company was beneficiary for the first time in the third
quarter 2003.

In October 2003, Amazon launched a full text search (Search
Inside the Book) after scanning the text of 120,000 titles,
with many more to come. It also launched its own search engine,

A sixth subsidiary - named Joyo - opened in China in September

The net income of Amazon was US $588 million for 2004 - 45% of
which from its six subsidiaries (Canada, China, France,
Germany, Japan, U.K.) -, with a total of $6.9 billion for

Amazon became a reference for global online commerce.

In July 2005, for its 10-year anniversary, Amazon had 9,000
employees, and 41 million clients enjoying attractive prices
for a whole range of products they could get within 48 hours in
one of the seven countries with an Amazon platform.

Amazon also sold more and more ebooks. In April 2005, it bought
the French company Mobipocket, specialized in ebooks and
readers (software) for PDAs.

In November 2007, Amazon launched its own reading device, named
Kindle, with a catalog of 80,000 ebooks on Amazon's website.
538,000 Kindle were sold in 2008. A new version of Kindle,
named Kindle 2, was launched in February 2009, with a catalog
of 230,000 ebooks.

= What about small bookstores?

Local bookstores have closed one after the other, or have had a
hard time keeping up with the competition of Amazon.com and
other online bookstores. Amazon and others are also bad news
for specialist bookstores, for example the travel bookstore
created in 1971 by Catherine Domain in Paris, France.

According to Catherine, Librairie Ulysse (Ulysses Bookstore) is
the oldest travel bookstore in the world. Its 20,000 out-of-
print or new books, maps and magazines - in a number of
languages and about any country - are all packed up in a tiny
space, in the heart of Paris, on Ile Saint-Louis, a small
island surrounded by the Seine river.

Catherine has been a traveller since she was a child. She
travels every summer - usually sailing on the Mediterranean,
the Atlantic or the Pacific - while her boyfriend runs the
bookstore. She is also a member of the French National Union of
Antiquarian and Modern Bookstores (SLAM: Syndicat national de
la librairie ancienne et moderne), the Explorers' Club (Club
des explorateurs) and the International Club of Long-Distance
Travelers (Club international des grands voyageurs).

Catherine visited 140 countries, and some trips were quite
challenging. But her most difficult challenge was to set up a
website on her own, from scratch, without knowing anything
about computers. In December 1999, she wrote in an email
interview: "My site is still pretty basic and under
construction. Like my bookstore, it is a place to meet people
before being a place of business. The internet is a pain in the
neck, takes a lot of my time and I earn hardly any money from
it, but that doesn't worry me... I am very pessimistic though,
because the internet is killing off specialist bookstores."

Some booksellers decided to run most of their business online,
for example Pierre Joppen and his wife Joke Vrijenhoek, the
owners of Paulus Swaen Old Maps and Prints, a bookstore founded
in 1978 in the Netherlands that relocated in 1996 in Florida.
The bookstore offers maps, atlases and globes ranging from the
16th to the 18th century. The maps cover all parts of the
world, and were produced by renowned cartographers, such as
Ortelius, Mercator, Blaeu, Janssonius, Hondius, Visscher, de
Wit, etc. The bookstore has also sold travel books and Medieval
manuscripts. It has offered an online internet auction since
November 1996, first twice a year, in March and November, and
then four times a year, in March, May, September and November.


= [Overview]

Created in 1992, the Etext Archives were "home to electronic
texts of all kinds". Created in 1993, the E-zine-list was a
list of electronic zines around the world. The first electronic
versions of print newspapers were available in the early 1990s
through commercial services like America Online and CompuServe.
In 1996, newspapers and magazines began offering websites with
a partial or full version of their latest issue, available
freely or through subscription (free or paid), as well as
online archives. In United Kingdom, the daily Times and the
Sunday Times set up a common website called Times Online. The
weekly publication The Economist also went online, as well as
the weekly Focus and Der Spiegel in Germany, the daily Le Monde
and Libération in France, and the daily El País in Spain. The
computer press went logically online as well, first the monthly
Wired, "the magazine of the future at the avant-garde of the
21st century", then ZDNet, another leading computer magazine.
More and more "only" electronic magazines were also created.

= Electronic texts and newsletters

The Etext Archives were founded in 1992 by Paul Southworth, and
hosted on the website of the University of Michigan. They were
"home to electronic texts of all kinds, from the sacred to the
profane, and from the political to the personal". They provided
electronic texts without judging their content, in six
sections: (a) "E-zines": electronic periodicals from the
professional to the personal; (b) "Politics": political zines,
essays, and home pages of political groups; (c) "Fiction":
publications of amateur authors; (d) "Religion", mainstream and
off-beat religious texts; (e) "Poetry": an eclectic mix of
mostly amateur poetry; and (f) "Quartz": the archive formerly
hosted at quartz.rutgers.edu.

As recalled on the website in 1998: "The web was just a
glimmer, gopher was the new hot technology, and FTP was still
the standard information retrieval protocol for the vast
majority of users. The origin of the project has caused
numerous people to associate it with the University of
Michigan, although in fact there has never been an official
relationship and the project is supported entirely by volunteer
labor and contributions. The equipment is wholly owned by the
project maintainers. The project was started in response to the
lack of organized archiving of political documents, periodicals
and discussions disseminated via Usenet on newsgroups such as
alt.activism, misc.activism.progressive, and
alt.society.anarchy. The alt.politics.radical-left group came
later and was also a substantial source of both materials and
regular contributors. Not long thereafter, electronic 'zines
(e-zines) began their rapid proliferation on the internet, and
it was clear that these materials suffered from the same lack
of coordinated collection and preservation, not to mention the
fact that the lines between e-zines (which at the time were
mostly related to hacking, phreaking, and internet anarchism)
and political materials on the internet were fuzzy enough that
most e-zines fit the original mission of The Etext Archives.
One thing led to another, and e-zines of all kinds - many on
various cultural topics unrelated to politics - invaded the
archives in significant volume."

Another list, the E-zine-list, was launched by John Labovitz in
summer 1993 to list e-zines around the world, accessible via
FTP, gopher, email, the web, and other services. The list was
updated monthly.

What exactly is a zine? John Labovitz explained on his website:
"For those of you not acquainted with the zine world, 'zine' is
short for either 'fanzine' or 'magazine', depending on your
point of view. Zines are generally produced by one person or a
small group of people, done often for fun or personal reasons,
and tend to be irreverent, bizarre, and/or esoteric. Zines are
not 'mainstream' publications - they generally do not contain
advertisements (except, sometimes, advertisements for other
zines), are not targeted towards a mass audience, and are
generally not produced to make a profit. An 'e-zine' is a zine
that is distributed partially or solely on electronic networks
like the internet."

3,045 zines were listed in November 1998. John wrote on his
website: "Now the e-zine world is different. The number of e-
zines has increased a hundredfold, crawling out of the FTP and
gopher woodworks to declaring themselves worthy of their own
domain name, even asking for financial support through
advertising. Even the term 'e-zine' has been co-opted by the
commercial world, and has come to mean nearly any type of
publication distributed electronically. Yet there is still the
original, independent fringe, who continue to publish from
their heart, or push the boundaries of what we call a 'zine'."
After many years of maintaining this list, John passed the
torch to others.

"Chroniques de Cybérie" was launched in November 1994 by Jean-
Pierre Cloutier, a journalist living in Montreal, Quebec. As a
weekly French-language report of internet news, Jean-Pierre's
newsletter was sent by email to its subscribers (free
subscription), and available on the web on a dedicated website
(from April 1995). Bruno Giussani, journalist, wrote in The New
York Times of November 25, 1997: "Almost no one in the United
States has ever heard of Jean-Pierre Cloutier, yet he is one of
the leading figures of the French-speaking internet community.
For the last 30 months Cloutier has written one of the most
intelligent, passionate and insightful electronic newsletters
available on the internet, (...) an original mix of relevant
internet news, clear political analysis and no-nonsense
personal opinions. It was a publication that gave readers the
feeling that they were living week after week in the intimacy
of a planetary revolution."

"Venezuela Analítica" was a Spanish-language electronic
magazine conceived as a public forum to exchange ideas on
politics, economics, culture, science and technology. Roberto
Hernández Montoya, its editor, wrote in September 1998: "The
internet has been very important for me personally. It became
my main way of life. As an organization it gave us the
possibility to communicate with thousands of people, which
would have been economically impossible if we had published a
paper magazine. I think the internet is going to become the
essential means of communication and of information exchange in
the coming years."

= Print magazines go online

The first electronic versions of print newspapers were
available in the early 1990s through commercial services like
America Online and CompuServe.

In 1996, newspapers and magazines began offering websites with
a partial or full version of their latest issue, available
freely or through subscription (free or paid), as well as
online archives.

For example, the site of The New York Times site could be
accessed free of charge, with articles of the print daily
newspaper, breaking news updated every ten minutes, and
original reporting only available online. The site of The
Washington Post gave the daily news online, with a full
database of articles, with images, sound and video.

In United Kingdom, the daily Times and the Sunday Times set up
a common website called Times Online, with a way to create a
personalized edition. The weekly publication The Economist went
online, as well as the daily Le Monde and Libération in France,
the daily El País in Spain, and the weekly Focus and Der
Spiegel in Germany.

The computer press went logically online as well, first the
monthly Wired, created in 1992 in California to cover
cyberculture as "the magazine of the future at the avant-garde
of the 21st century", then ZDNet, as a leading computer online

"More than 3,600 newspapers now publish on the internet", Eric
K. Meyer stated in late 1997 in an essay published on the
website of AJR/NewsLink. "A full 43% of all online newspapers
now are based outside the United States. A year ago, only 29%
of online newspapers were located abroad. Rapid growth,
primarily in Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil and
Germany, has pushed the total number of non-U.S. online
newspapers to 1,563. The number of U.S. newspapers online also
has grown markedly, from 745 a year ago to 1,290 six months ago
to 2,059 today. Outside the United States, the United Kingdom,
with 294 online newspapers, and Canada, with 230, lead the way.
In Canada, every province or territory now has at least one
online newspaper. Ontario leads the way with 91, Alberta has
44, and British Columbia has 43. Elsewhere in North America,
Mexico has 51 online newspapers, 23 newspapers are online in
Central America and 36 are online in the Caribbean. Europe is
the next most wired continent for newspapers, with 728 online
newspaper sites. After the United Kingdom, Norway has the next
most - 53 - and Germany has 43. Asia (led by India) has 223
online newspapers, South America (led by Bolivia) has 161 and
Africa (led by South Africa) has 53. Australia and other
islands have 64 online newspapers."

The online versions of these newspapers brought us a wealth of
information. The web provided not only news available online,
but also a whole encyclopedia to help us understand them. As
readers, we could click on hyperlinks to get maps, biographies,
official texts, political and economic data, photographs, and
audio and video coverage. We could easily access other articles
on the same topic with search engines sorting out articles by
date, author, title, or subject.


= [Overview]

More and more people were using digital technology. Previously
distinct information-based industries, such as printing,
publishing, graphic design, media, sound recording and film
making, were converging into one industry, with information as
a common product. This trend was named "multimedia
convergence", with a massive loss of jobs, and a serious enough
issue to be tackled by the ILO (International Labor
Organization) by 1997. The first ILO Symposium on Multimedia
Convergence was held in January 1997 at ILO headquarters in
Geneva, Switzerland, with employers, unionists, and government
representatives from all over the world. Some participants,
mostly employers, demonstrated the information society was
generating or would generate jobs, whereas other participants,
mostly unionists, demonstrated there was a rise in unemployment
worldwide, that should be addressed right away through
investment, innovation, vocational training, computer literacy,
retraining, and fair labor rights, including for teleworkers.

= [In Depth]

As explained in the introduction of the symposium's
proceedings: "With the advent of digitalization, technological
convergence has been set into motion. Today all forms of
information - whether based in text, sound or images - can be
converted into bits and bytes for handling by computer.
Digitalization has made it possible to create, record,
manipulate, combine, store, retrieve and transmit information
and information-based products in ways which magnetic tape,
celluloid and paper did not permit. Digitalization thus allows
music, cinema and the written word to be recorded and
transformed through similar processes and without distinct
material supports. Previously dissimilar industries, such as
publishing and sound recording, now both produce CD-ROMs,
rather than simply books and records. (...)

Multimedia convergence deserves our attention for reasons which
go far beyond the entertainment, mass media and
telecommunications industries. The technological revolution
which has made multimedia convergence possible will continue
apace, creating new configurations among an ever-widening range
of industries. The digitalization of information processing and
delivery is transforming the way financial systems operate, the
way enterprises exchange information internally and externally,
and the way individuals work in an increasingly electronic

Held in January 1997 at the ILO headquarters in Geneva,
Switzerland, the three-day Symposium on Multimedia Convergence
intended to discuss the social and labor issues arising from
this process. The industry-centred debates focused on three
main concerns: (a) the information society: what it means for
governments, employers and workers; (b) the convergence
process: its impact on employment and work; and (c) labor
relations in the information age. The purpose of these debates
was "to stimulate reflection on the policies and approaches
most apt to prepare our societies and especially our workforces
for the turbulent transition towards an information economy."

One of the participants, Peter Leisink, an associate professor
of labor studies at the Utrecht University, Netherlands,
explained: "A survey of the United Kingdom book publishing
industry showed that proofreaders and editors have been
externalized and now work as home-based teleworkers. The vast
majority of them had entered self-employment, not as a first-
choice option, but as a result of industry mergers, relocations
and redundancies. These people should actually be regarded as
casualized workers, rather than as self-employed, since they
have little autonomy and tend to depend on only one publishing
house for their work."

Wilfred Kiboro, managing director of Nation Printers and
Publishers, Kenya, made the following comments: "In content
creation in the multimedia environment, it is very difficult to
know who the journalist is, who the editor is, and who the
technologist is that will bring it all together. At what point
will telecom workers become involved as well as the people in
television and other entities that come to create new products?
Traditionally in the print media, for instance, we had
printers, journalists, sales and marketing staff and so on, but
now all of them are working on one floor from one desk."

Formerly, the production staff was keying in the articles, and
not the editorial staff. Journalists and editors could now type
in their articles online, and these articles went directly from
text to layout. In book publishing, digitization speeded up the
editorial process, which used to be sequential, by allowing the
copy editor, the image editor and the layout staff to work at
the same time on the same book.

Michel Muller, secretary-general of the French Federation of
Book, Paper and Communication Industry (Fédération des
industries du livre, du papier et de la communication), stated
that, in France, jobs in this industry fell from 110,000 to
90,000 in the last decade (1987-1996), with expensive social
plans to re-train and re-employ the 20,000 people who lost
their jobs.

He also explained that, "if the technological developments
really created new jobs, as had been suggested, then it might
have been better to invest the money in reliable studies about
what jobs were being created and which ones were being lost,
rather than in social plans which often created artificial
jobs. These studies should highlight the new skills and
qualifications in demand as the technological convergence
process broke down the barriers between the printing industry,
journalism and other vehicles of information. Another problem
caused by convergence was the trend towards ownership
concentration. A few big groups controlled not only the bulk of
the print media, but a wide range of other media, and thus
posed a threat to pluralism in expression. Various tax
advantages enjoyed by the press today should be re-examined and
adapted to the new realities facing the press and multimedia
enterprises. Managing all the social and societal issues raised
by new technologies required widespread agreement and
consensus. Collective agreements were vital, since neither
individual negotiations nor the market alone could sufficiently
settle these matters."

Quite theoretical compared to the unionists' concerns was the
answer of Walter Durling, director of AT&T Global Information
Solutions (United States): "Technology would not change the
core of human relations. More sophisticated means of
communicating, new mechanisms for negotiating, and new types of
conflicts would all arise, but the relationships between
workers and employers themselves would continue to be the same.
When film was invented, people had been afraid that it could
bring theatre to an end. That has not happened. When television
was developed, people had feared that it would do away cinemas,
but it had not. One should not be afraid of the future. Fear of
the future should not lead us to stifle creativity with
regulations. Creativity was needed to generate new employment.
The spirit of enterprise had to be reinforced with the new
technology in order to create jobs for those who had been
displaced. Problems should not be anticipated, but tackled when
they arose." In short, humanity shouldn't fear technology.

In fact, employees were not so much afraid of technology as
they were afraid of losing their jobs. In 1996, unemployment
was already significant in any field, which was not the case
when film and television were invented. What would be the
balance between job creation and lay-off in the near future?
Unions were struggling worldwide to promote the creation of
jobs through investment, innovation, vocational training,
computer literacy, retraining for new jobs in digital
technology, fair conditions for labor contracts and collective
agreements, defense of copyright for the re-use of articles
from the print media to the web, protection of workers in the
artistic field, and defense of teleworkers as workers having
full rights. The European Commission was expecting to have 10
million teleworkers in Europe by the year 2000, which would
represent 20% of teleworkers worldwide.

Despite unions' efforts, would the situation become as tragic
as suggested in a note of the symposium's proceedings? "Some
fear a future in which individuals will be forced to struggle
for survival in an electronic jungle. And the survival
mechanisms which have been developed in recent decades, such as
relatively stable employment relations, collective agreements,
employee representation, employer-provided job training, and
jointly funded social security schemes, may be sorely tested in
a world where work crosses borders at the speed of light."

Twelve years later, outsourcing has become a "standard" in
information technology, to cut the costs. How many companies
care about fair labor conditions for the employees of their
outsourcing partners?


= [Overview]

The first library website was the one created by the Helsinki
City Library in Finland, which went live in February 1994. Four
years later, in 1998, more and more traditional libraries had a
website as a new "virtual" window for their patrons and beyond.
Patrons could check opening hours, browse the online catalog,
and surf on a broad selection of websites on various topics.
Libraries developed digital libraries alongside their standard
collections, for a large audience to be able to access their
specialized, old, local and regional collections, including
images and sound. Librarians could now fulfill two goals that
used to be in contradiction - preservation (on shelves) and
communication (on the internet). Library treasures went online,
like Beowulf on the website of the British Library. Beowulf is
the earliest known narrative poem in English, and one of the
most famous works of Anglo-Saxon poetry. The British Library
holds the only known manuscript of Beowulf, dated circa 1000,
and digitized it for the world to enjoy.

= Libraries create websites

Libraries began creating websites as a "virtual" window, as
well as digital libraries stemming from their print
collections. Thousands of public works, literary and scientific
articles, pictures and sound tracks became available on the
screen for free.

On the one hand, books were taken out of their shelves only
once to be scanned. On the other hand, books could easily be
accessed anywhere at any time, without the need to go to the
library and struggle through a lengthy process to access the
original books, because of reduced opening hours, forms to fill
out, safety concerns for rare and fragile books, and shortage
of staff. Some researchers still remember the unfailing
patience and an out-of-the-ordinary determination they needed
to finally get to a given book in some cases. People could now
access digital facsimiles, and access the original books only
when needed.

Before broadband internet became mainstream, full-screen images
were quite long to appear on the screen. After enthusiastically
posting large image files, librarians decided to post small
images that people could either see as is, or click on to get a
larger format.

Some amazing image collections went online, for example
American Memory, as "an effort to digitize and deliver
electronically the distinctive, historical Americana holdings
at Library of Congress, including photographs, manuscripts,
rare books, maps, recorded sound, and moving pictures".

SPIRO (Slide and Photograph Image Retrieval Online) was the
Visual Online Public Access Catalog (VOPAC) for UC (University
of California) Berkeley's Architecture Slide Library (ASL)
collection of 200,000 35mm slides.

IMAGES 1 was the database of the Pictorial Collection at the
National Library of Australia, with 15,000 historical and
contemporary images relating to Australia and its influence in
the world, including paintings, drawings, rare prints, objects
and photographs.

Librarians also helped patrons to surf on the web without being
drowned, and to find the information they needed at a time
search engines were less accurate. Library catalogs went
online. Some patrons were already hoping that online catalogs
would no longer only be a list of bibliographic records, and a
prelude to a lengthy process to find the document itself if it
didn't belong to their library - forms to fill out for
interlibrary loan, fees to pay in some cases, and a long
waiting period to finally get the book. They were hoping that,
some day, bibliographic catalogs would give instant online
access to the full text of books and journals.

= Gabriel in Europe

Gabriel - an acronym for "Gateway and Bridge to Europe's
National Libraries" - was launched as a trilingual (English,
French, German) website by the Conference of European National
Librarians (CENL).

As stated on the website in 1998: "Gabriel also recalls Gabriel
Naudé, whose 'Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque' (Paris,
1627) is one of the earliest theoretical works about libraries
in any European language and provides a blueprint for the great
modern research library. The name Gabriel is common to many
European languages and is derived from the Old Testament, where
Gabriel appears as one of the archangels or heavenly
messengers. He also appears in a similar role in the New
Testament and the Qu'ran."

In 1998, 38 national libraries participated in Gabriel: the
ones of Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia,
Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia,
San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
Turkey, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

How did Gabriel begin? During the 1994 CENL meeting in Oslo,
Norway, it was suggested that national libraries should set up
a common electronic board with updates about their ongoing
projects. Representatives from the national libraries of
Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), United Kingdom (British
Library) and Finland (Helsinki University Library) met in March
1995 in The Hague, Netherlands, to launch the pilot Gabriel
project. Three other national libraries joined the project, the
ones of Germany (Deutsche Bibliothek), France (Bibliothèque
nationale de France) and Poland (Biblioteka Narodowa). Gabriel
would describe their services and collections, while seeking to
attract other national libraries into the project. The original
Gabriel website was launched in September 1995. It was
maintained by the British Library Network Services and mirrored
by the national libraries of Netherlands and Finland.

In November 1995, other national libraries were invited to
submit entries describing their  services and collections. At
the same time, more and more national libraries were launching
their own websites and online catalogs. Gabriel also became a
common portal for those.

During the 1996 CENL meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, it was
decided that Gabriel would become an official CENL website in
January 1997. Gabriel was maintained by the national library in
the Netherlands, and mirrored by four other national libraries,
in United Kingdom, Finland, Germany, and Slovenia.

Eight years later, in summer 2005, Gabriel merged with the
European Library's website, as a common portal for the 43
national libraries in Europe. In March 2006, the European
Commission launched the project of a European digital library,
after a “call for ideas” from September to December 2005. This
European digital library – named Europeana - opened its
"virtual" doors in November 2008, with a crash from the server
within 24 hours, followed by an experimental period with part
of the collections.

In 1998, eight years before launching Europeana, the European
Commission was running a Library Program(me) for public
libraries, that aimed "to help increase the ready availability
of library resources across Europe, and to facilitate their
interconnection with the information and communications
infrastructure. Its two main orientations will be the
development of advanced systems to facilitate user access to
library resources, and the interconnection of libraries with
other libraries and the developing 'information highway'.
Validation tests will be accompanied by measures to promote
standards, disseminate results, and raise the awareness of
library staff about the possibilities afforded by telematics

In December 1998, according to a document posted on the website
of the European Commission, 1,000 public libraries from 26
European countries had their own websites, that ranged from one
webpage - with a postal address and opening hours - to several
webpages - with full access to the library's OPAC (Online
Public Access Catalog) and a variety of services. The leading
countries were Finland (247 libraries), Sweden (132 libraries),
United Kingdom (112 libraries), Denmark (107 libraries),
Germany (102 libraries), Netherlands (72 libraries), Lithuania
(51 libraries), Spain (56 libraries), and Norway (45
libraries). Newcomers were the Czech Republic (29 libraries)
and Portugal (3 libraries). Russia had a common website for 26
public reference libraries.

= Digital libraries

# A definition

What exactly is a digital library? The Universal Library
Project, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University, defined it in
1998 as "a digital library of digital documents, artifacts, and
records. The advantage of having library material available in
digital form is threefold: (1) the content occupies less space
and can be replicated and made secure electronically; (2) the
content can be made immediately available over the internet to
anyone, anywhere; and (3) search for content can be automated.
The promise of the digital library is the promise of great cost
reductions while providing great increases in archive
availability and accessibility. (...) There are literally
thousands of digital library initiatives of a great many
varieties going on in the world today. Digital libraries are
being formed of scholarly works, archives of historical figures
and events, corporate and governmental records, museum
collections and religious collections. Some take the form of
scanning and putting documents to the World Wide Web. Still
other digital libraries are formed of digitizing paintings,
films and music. Work even exists in 3D reconstructive
digitization that permits a digital deconstruction, storage,
transmission, and reconstruction of solid object."

Since the mid-1990s, libraries were studying how to store an
enormous amount of data and make it available on the internet
through a reliable search engine. Library 2000 was a project
run between 1995 and 1998 by the MIT Laboratory for Computer
Science (MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to explore
the implications of large scale online storage, using the
digital library of the future as an example. It developed a
prototype using the technology and system configurations
expected to be economically feasible in 2000.

Another project was the Digital Library Initiative, supported
by grants from NSF (National Science Foundation), DARPA
(Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and NASA (National
Aeronautics and Space Administration). As mentioned on its
website in 1998: "The Initiative's focus is to dramatically
advance the means to collect, store, and organize information
in digital forms, and make it available for searching,
retrieval, and processing via communication networks - all in
user-friendly ways."

The British Library was a pioneer in Europe. Brian Lang, chief
executive of the library, explained on its website in 1998: "We
do not envisage an exclusively digital library. We are aware
that some people feel that digital materials will predominate
in libraries of the future. Others anticipate that the impact
will be slight. In the context of the British Library, printed
books, manuscripts, maps, music, sound recordings and all the
other existing materials in the collection will always retain
their central importance, and we are committed to continuing to
provide, and to improve, access to these in our reading rooms.
The importance of digital materials will, however, increase. We
recognize that network infrastructure is at present most
strongly developed in the higher education sector, but there
are signs that similar facilities will also be available
elsewhere, particularly in the industrial and commercial
sector, and for public libraries. Our vision of network access
encompasses all these."

The Digital Library Programme was expected to begin in 1999.
"The development of the Digital Library will enable the British
Library to embrace the digital information age. Digital
technology will be used to preserve and extend the Library's
unparalleled collection. Access to the collection will become
boundless with users from all over the world, at any time,
having simple, fast access to digitized materials using
computer networks, particularly the internet."

Another pioneer in Europe was the French National Library (BnF:
Bibliothèque nationale de France). The BnF launched its digital
library Gallica in October 1997 as an experimental project to
offer digitized texts and images from print collections
relating to French history, life and culture. When interviewed
by Jérôme Strazzulla in the daily Le Figaro of June 3, 1998,
Jean-Pierre Angremy, president of BnF, stated: "We cannot, we
will not be able to digitize everything. In the long term, a
digital library will only be one element of the whole library."
The first step of the program, a major collection of 19th-
century French texts and images, was available online one year

# Some projects

In Germany, the Bielefeld University Library (Bibliothek der
Universität Bielefeld) began posting online versions of German
rare prints in 1996. Michael Behrens, in charge of the digital
library project, wrote in September 1998: "To some here,
'digital library' seems to be everything that, even remotely,
has to do with the internet. The library started its own web
server some time in summer 1995. (...) Before that, it had been
offering most of its services via Telnet, which wasn't used
much by patrons, although in theory they could have accessed a
lot of material from home. But in those days almost nobody
really had internet access at home... We started digitizing
rare prints from our own library, and some rare prints which
were sent in via library loan, in November 1996. (...)

In that first phase of our attempts at digitization, starting
November 1996 and ending June 1997, 38 rare prints were scanned
as image files and made available via the web. During the same
time, there were also a few digital materials prepared as
accompanying material for lectures held at the university
(image files as excerpts from printed works). These are, for
copyright reasons, not available outside of campus. The next
step, which is just being completed, is the digitization of the
Berlinische Monatsschrift, a German periodical from the
Enlightenment, comprising 58 volumes, and 2,574 articles on
30,626 pages. A somewhat bigger digitization project of German
periodicals from the 18th and early 19th century is planned.
The size will be about 1,000,000 pages. These periodicals will
be not just from the holdings of this library, but the project
would be coordinated here, and some of the technical would be
done here, also."

Other digital libraries were created from scratch, with no back
up from a traditional library. They were "only" digital. This
was the case of Athena in Switzerland, and Projetto Manuzio in

Athena was founded in 1994 by Pierre Perroud, a Swiss teacher,
and hosted on the website of the University of Geneva. Athena
was created as a multilingual digital library specializing in
philosophy, science, literature, history and economics, either
by digitizing documents or by providing links to existing
etexts. The Helvetia section provided documents about
Switzerland. Geneva being the main city in French-speaking
Switzerland, Athena also focused on putting French texts
online. A specific page offered an extensive selection of other
digital libraries worldwide, with relevant links.

Projetto Manuzio was launched by Liber Liber as as a free
digital library for texts in Italian. Liber Liber is an Italian
cultural association aimed at the promotion of any kind of
artistic and intellectual expression. It wanted to link
humanities and science by using computer technology in
humanities. Projetto Manuzio was named after the famous 16th-
century Venetian publisher who improved the printing techniques
invented by Gutenberg.

As stated on its website in 1998, Projetto Manuzio wanted "to
make a noble idea real: the idea of making culture available to
everybody. How? By making books, graduation theses, articles,
tales or any other document which could be digitized in a
computer available all over the world, at any minute and free
of charge. Via modem, or using floppy disks (in this case, by
adding the cost of a blank disk and postal fees), it is already
possible to get hundreds of books. And Projetto Manuzio needs
only a few people to make such a masterpiece as Dante
Alighieri's Divina Commedia available to millions of people."

Some "only" digital libraries were organized around an author,
for example The Marx/Engels Internet Archive (MEIA). MEIA was
created in 1996 to offer a chronology of the collected works of
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and link this chronology to the
digital versions of these works "as one work after another is
brought online". As explained on the website in 1998: "There's
no way to monetarily profit from this project. 'Tis a labor of
love undertaken in the purest communitarian sense. The real
'profit' will hopefully manifest in the form of individual
enlightenment through easy access to these classic works.
Besides, transcribing them is an education in itself... Let us
also add that this is not a sectarian/One-Great-Truth effort.
Help from any individual or any group is welcome. We have but
one slogan: 'Piping Marx & Engels into cyberspace!'"

A search engine was set up for the digital library. "As larger
works come online, they will also have small search pages made
for them alone - for instance, Capital will have a search page
for that work alone."

The Biographical Archive gave access to biographies of Marx and
Engels, as well as short biographies and photographs of their
family members and friends. The Photo Gallery gathered photos
of the Marx and Engels clan from 1839 to 1894, and their
dwellings from 1818 to 1895, with "many more to come". The
section “Others” included a list of works from all Marxist
writers, for example James Connolly, Daniel DeLeon and Hal
Draper, as well as a short biography. The Non-English Archive
listed the works of Marx and Engels freely available online in
other languages (Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian,
Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish). It seems
that the project was later renamed the Marxists Internet

= Library treasures go online

Libraries began digitizing their treasures, and putting the
digital versions on the web for the world to enjoy. The British
Library was a pioneer in this field. One of the first digitized
treasures was Beowulf, the earliest known narrative poem in
English, and one of the most famous works of Anglo-Saxon
poetry. The British Library holds the only known manuscript of
Beowulf, dated circa 1000. The poem itself is much older than
the manuscript - some historians believe it might have been
written circa 750. The manuscript was badly damaged by fire in
1731. 18th-century transcripts mentioned hundreds of words and
characters which were then visible along the charred edges, and
subsequently crumbled away over the years. To halt this
process, each leaf was mounted on a paper frame in 1845.

Scholarly discussions on the date of creation and provenance of
the poem continue around the world, and researchers regularly
require access to the manuscript. Taking Beowulf out of its
display case for study not only raised conservation issues, it
also made it unavailable for the many visitors who were coming
to the British Library expecting to see this literary treasure
on display. Digitization of the manuscript offered a solution
to these problems, as well as providing new opportunities for
researchers and readers worldwide.

The Electronic Beowulf Project was launched as a database of
digital images of the Beowulf manuscript, as well as related
manuscripts and printed texts. In 1998, the database included
the fiber-optic readings of hidden characters and ultra-violet
readings of erased text in the manuscript; the full electronic
facsimiles of the 18th-century transcripts of the manuscript;
and selections from the main 19th-century collations, editions
and translations. Major additions to the database were planned
for the following years, such as images of contemporary
manuscripts, links to the Toronto Dictionary of Old English
Project, and links to the comprehensive Anglo-Saxon
bibliographies of the Old English Newsletter.

The database project was developed in partnership with two
leading experts in the United States, Kevin Kiernan, from the
University of Kentucky, and Paul Szarmach, from the Medieval
Institute of Western Michigan University. Professor Kiernan
edited the electronic archive and supervised the making of a
CD-ROM with the main electronic images.

Brian Lang, chief executive of the British Library, explained
on its website in 1998: "The Beowulf manuscript is a unique
treasure and imposes on the Library a responsibility to
scholars throughout the world. Digital photography offered for
the first time the possibility of recording text concealed by
early repairs, and a less expensive and safer way of recording
readings under special light conditions. It also offers the
prospect of using image enhancement technology to settle
doubtful readings in the text. Network technology has
facilitated direct collaboration with American scholars and
makes it possible for scholars around the world to share in
these discoveries. Curatorial and computing staff learned a
great deal which will inform any future programmes of
digitization and network service provision the Library may
undertake, and our publishing department is considering the
publication of an electronic scholarly edition of Beowulf. This
work has not only advanced scholarship; it has also captured
the imagination of a wider public, engaging people (through
press reports and the availability over computer networks of
selected images and text) in the appreciation of one of the
primary artefacts of our shared cultural heritage."

Other treasures of the British Library were available online as
well: "Magna Carta", the first English constitutional text,
signed in 1215, with the Great Seal of King John; the
"Lindisfarne Gospels", dated 698; the "Diamond Sutra", dated
868, sometimes referred to as the world's earliest print book;
the "Sforza Hours", dated 1490-1520, an outstanding Renaissance
treasure; the "Codex Arundel", a notebook from Leonardo Da
Vinci, in the late 15th or early 16th century; and the "Tyndale
New Testament", as the first print version in English by Peter
Schoeffer in Worms.

New treasures followed. The digitized version of the Bible of
Gutenberg was available online in November 2000. Gutenberg
printed its Bible in 1454 or 1455 in Germany, perhaps printing
180 copies, with 48 copies still available in 2000, and three
copies - two full ones and one partial one - at the British
Library. The two full copies - a little different from each
other - were digitized in March 2000 by Japanese experts from
Keio University of Tokyo and NTT (Nippon Telegraph and
Telephone Communications). The images were then processed to
offer a full digital version on the web a few months later.


= [Overview]

The job of librarians, that had already changed a lot with
computers, went on to change even more with the internet.
Electronic mail became commonplace for internal and external
communications. Librarians could subscribe to newsletters and
participate in newsgroups and discussion forums. In 1999,
librarians were running intranets for their organizations, like
Peter Raggett at the OECD Library, or they were running library
websites, like Bruno Didier at the Institute Pasteur Library.
Computers made catalogs much easier to handle, as well as
library loans and book orders. This was the case for Anissa
Rachef at the French Institute in London. Librarians could type
in bibliographic records in a computer database that was
sorting out book records by alphabetical order, with search
engines for queries by author, title, year and subject. By
networking computers, the internet gave a boost to union
catalogs for a state, a province, a department, a country or a
region, and made things simpler for interlibrary loan.

= Two experiences

# At the OECD

The OECD Library was among the first ones in Europe to set up
an extensive intranet for the staff of its organization. What
is OECD? "The OECD is a club of like-minded countries. It is
rich, in that OECD countries produce two thirds of the world's
goods and services, but it is not an exclusive club.
Essentially, membership is limited only by a country's
commitment to a market economy and a pluralistic democracy. The
core of original members has expanded from Europe and North
America to include Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Finland,
Mexico, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Korea. And
there are many more contacts with the rest of the world through
programmes with countries in the former Soviet bloc, Asia,
Latin America - contacts which, in some cases, may lead to
membership." (excerpt from its website in 1999)

The OECD Central Library serves the OECD staff to support their
research work, with more than 60,000 monographs and 2,500
periodicals in early 1999, as well as microfilms and CD-ROMs,
and subscripions to databases like Dialog, Lexis-Nexis and

Peter Raggett, deputy-head (and then head) of the Central
Library, first worked in government libraries in United Kingdom
before joining the OECD in 1994. An avid internet user since
1996, Peter wrote in August 1999: "At the OECD Library we have
collected together several hundred websites and have put links
to them on the OECD intranet. They are sorted by subject and
each site has a short annotation giving some information about
it. The researcher can then see if it is possible that the site
contains the desired information. This is adding value to the
site references and in this way the Central Library has built
up a virtual reference desk on the OECD network. As well as the
annotated links, this virtual reference desk contains pages of
references to articles, monographs and websites relevant to
several projects currently being researched at the OECD,
network access to CD-ROMs, and a monthly list of new
acquisitions. The Library catalogue will soon be available for
searching on the intranet. The reference staff at the OECD
Library uses the internet for a good deal of their work. Often
an academic working paper will be on the web and will be
available for full-text downloading. We are currently
investigating supplementing our subscriptions to certain of our
periodicals with access to the electronic versions on the

What about finding information on the internet? "The internet
has provided researchers with a vast database of information.
The problem for them is to find what they are seeking. Never
has the information overload been so obvious as when one tries
to find information on a topic by searching the internet. When
one uses a search engine like Lycos or AltaVista or a directory
like Yahoo!, it soon becomes clear that it can be very
difficult to find valuable sites on a given topic. These search
mechanisms work well if one is searching for something very
precise, such as information on a person who has an unusual
name, but they produce a confusing number of references if one
is searching for a topic which can be quite broad. Try and
search the web for Russia AND transport to find statistics on
the use of trains, planes and buses in Russia. The first
references you will find are freight-forwarding firms who have
business connections with Russia."

How about the future? "The internet is impinging on many
peoples' lives, and information managers are the best people to
help researchers around the labyrinth. The internet is just in
its infancy and we are all going to be witnesses to its growth
and refinement. (...) Information managers have a large role to
play in searching and arranging the information on the
internet. I expect that there will be an expansion in internet
use for education and research. This means that libraries will
have to create virtual libraries where students can follow a
course offered by an institution at the other side of the
world. Personally, I see myself becoming more and more a
virtual librarian. My clients may not meet me face-to-face but
instead will contact me by email, telephone or fax, and I will
do the research and send them the results electronically."

# At the Pasteur Institute

"The Pasteur Institutes are exceptional observatories for
studying infectious and parasite-borne diseases. They are
wedded to the solving of practical public health problems, and
hence carry out research programmes which are highly original
because of the complementary nature of the investigations
carried out: clinical research, epidemiological surveys and
basic research work. Just a few examples from the long list of
major topics of the Institutes are: malaria, tuberculosis,
AIDS, yellow fever, dengue and poliomyelitis." (excerpt from
the website in 1999)

Bruno Didier, librarian and webmaster of the library website,
explained in August 1999: "The main aim of the Pasteur
Institute Library website is to serve the Institute itself and
its associated bodies. It supports applications that have
became essential in such a big organization: bibliographic
databases, cataloging, ordering of documents and of course
access to online periodicals (presently more than 100). It is a
window for our different departments, at the Institute but also
elsewhere in France and abroad. It plays a big part in
documentation exchanges with the institutes in the worldwide
Pasteur network. I am trying to make it an interlink adapted to
our needs for exploration and use of the internet. The website
has existed in its present form since 1996 and its audience is
steadily increasing. (...) I build and maintain the webpages
and monitor them regularly. I am also responsible for training
users. The web is an excellent place for training and it is
included in most ongoing discussion about that."

How about the future? "Our relationship with both the
information and the users is what changes. We are increasingly
becoming mediators, and perhaps to a lesser extent 'curators'.
My present activity is typical of this new situation: I am
working to provide quick access to information and to create
effective means of communication, but I also train people to
use these new tools. (...) I think the future of our job is
tied to cooperation and use of common resources. It is
certainly an old project, but it is really the first time we
have had the means to set it up."

= Online catalogs


The internet boosted library catalogs through cyberspace. OPACs
(OPAC: Online Public Access Catalog) were more attractive and
user-friendly than the older print and computer catalogs. Some
catalogs began to give instant online access to the full text
of books and journals, something that would become a major
trend ten years later.

The first step was UNIMARC, as a common bibliographic format
for library catalogs. The IFLA (International Federation of
Library Associations) published the first edition of "UNIMARC:
Universal MARC Format" in 1977, followed by a second edition in
1980 and a "UNIMARC Handbook" in 1983.

UNIMARC (Universal Machine Readable Cataloging) was set up as a
solution to the 20 existing national MARC (Machine Readable
Cataloging) formats. 20 formats meant lack of compatibility and
extensive editing when bibliographic records were exchanged.
With UNIMARC, catalogers would be able to process records
created in any MARC format. Records in one MARC format would
first be converted into UNIMARC, and then be converted into
another MARC format. UNIMARC would also be promoted as a format
on its own.

In May 1997, the British Library launched OPAC 97 to provide
free online access to the catalogs of its main collections in
London and Boston Spa. It also launched Blaise, an online
bibliographic information service (with a small fee), and
Inside, a catalog of articles from 20,000 journals and 16,000
conferences. As explained on the website at the time: "The
Library's services are based on its outstanding collections,
developed over 250 years, of over one hundred and fifty million
items representing every age of written civilisation, every
written language and every aspect of human thought. At present
individual collections have their own separate catalogues,
often built up around specific subject areas. Many of the
Library's plans for its collections, and for meeting its users'
needs, require the development of a single catalogue database.
This is being pursued in the Library's Corporate Bibliographic
Programme which seeks to address this issue." The "single
catalogue database" was fully operational a few years later.

Another leading effort was the one of the Library of Congress
with its Experimental Search System (ESS). The ESS was "one of
the Library of Congress' first efforts to make selected
cataloging and digital library resources available over the
World Wide Web by means of a single, point-and-click interface.
The interface consists of several search query pages (Basic,
Advanced, Number, and a Browse screen) and several search
results pages (an item list of brief displays and an item full
display), together with brief help files which link directly
from significant words on those pages. By exploiting the
powerful synergies of hyperlinking and a relevancy-ranked
search engine (InQuery from Sovereign Hill Software), we hope
the ESS will provide a new and more intuitive way of searching
the traditional OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)." (excerpt
from the website in 1998)

Another interesting - and totally different - initiative was
the creation of the Internet Public Library (IPL) by the School
of Information and Library Studies at the University of
Michigan. The IPL went live in March 1995 as the first U.S.
digital public library to serve the internet community, and to
catalog websites and webpages. The librarians' task was to
choose the best documents available on the web, and process
them as library documents for them to be easily accessed from
the IPL website, that acted as a portal. The IPL sections were:
Reference, Exhibits, Magazines and Serials, Newspapers, Online
Texts, and Web Searching. There were also Teen and Youth
sections. All items were carefully selected, catalogued and
described by the IPL staff. As an experimental library, IPL
also listed the best internet projects that were run by
librarians, in the section Especially for Librarians. Since
then, students from the IPL Consortium, a consortium of
colleges and universities with programs in information science,
have worked on maintaining and developing the IPL as a public
library for the web.

# Union catalogs

In 1999, the two main union catalogs were WorldCat, run by OCLC
(Online Computer Library Center), and RLIN (Research Library
Information Network), run by the Research Libraries Group

What exactly is a union catalog? The idea behind a union
catalog is to earn time by avoiding the cataloging of the same
document by many catalogers worldwide. When catalogers of a
member library catalog a new document, they first search the
union catalog. If the record is available, they import it into
their own library catalog and add the local data. If the record
is  not available, they create it in their own library catalog
and export it into the union catalog. The new record is
immediately available to all catalogers of member libraries.
Depending on their status, experience and quality of
cataloging, member libraries can either import records only, or
import and export records.

OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) was created in 1971 as a
non-profit organization dedicated to furthering access to the
world's information while reducing information costs. The OCLC
Online Union Catalog - renamed WorldCat much later - began as
the union catalog of the university libraries in the State of
Ohio. Over the years, OCLC became a national and then worldwide
library cooperative, and WorldCat the largest library catalog
in the world. In early 1998, WorldCat had 38 million records in
400 languages - with transliteration for non-Roman languages) -
and an annual increase of 2 million records. In 1998, 27,000
libraries in 65 countries were using OCLC services (paid
subscription) to manage their collections and provide online
reference services.

WorldCat has only accepted one bibliographic record per
document, unlike RLIN (Research Library Information Network),
launched by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) in 1980. RLIN
accepted several records per document, with 88 million records
in early 1998.

Members of RLG were mainly research and specialized libraries.
RLIN was later renamed the RLG Union Catalog. Its free web
version, RedLightGreen, was launched in fall 2003 as a beta
version,  and in spring 2004 as a full version. This was a
major move, not only for library members, but for all internet
users, who could also access it for free.

In 2005, WorldCat had 61 million bibliographic records in 400
languages, from 9,000 member libraries in 112 countries. In
2006, 73 million bibliographic records were linking to one
billion documents available in these libraries.

In August 2006, WorldCat began to migrate to the web through
the beta version of its new website worldcat.org. Member
libraries now provided free access to their catalogs and
electronic resources: books, audiobooks, abstracts and full-
text articles, photos, music CDs and videos. RedLightGreen
ended its service in November 2006, and RLG joined OCLC.


= [Overview]

2000 was a turning point for a multilingual internet, both for
its content and its users. In summer 2000, non-English-speaking
users reached 50%. This percentage went on to increase
steadily: 52.5% in summer 2001, 57% in December 2001, 59.8% in
April 2002, 64.4% in September 2003 - with 34.9% non-English-
speaking Europeans and 29.4% Asians - and 64.2% in March 2004
- with 37.9% non-English-speaking Europeans and 33% Asians
(source: Global Reach). The internet is also a good tool for
minority languages, as stated by Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle, who
teaches computing at the Institute Sabhal Mór Ostaig, located
on the Island of Skye, in Scotland. Caoimhín also maintains the
college website, which is the main site worldwide with
information on Scottish Gaelic, with a bilingual (English,
Gaelic) list of European minority languages. He wrote in May
2001: "Students do everything by computer, use Gaelic spell-
checking, a Gaelic online terminology database. There are more
hits on our website. There is more use of sound. Gaelic radio
(both Scottish and Irish) is now available continuously
worldwide via the internet. A major project has been the
translation of the Opera web-browser into Gaelic - the first
software of this size available in Gaelic."

= "Language nations"

At first, the internet was nearly 100% English. Born in the
United States, it spread in North America before taking over
the whole planet. Then people from all continents began
connecting to the internet and posting webpages in their own
languages. In the 1990s, the percentage of English decreased
from nearly 100% to 85% (reached in 1997 or 1998, depending on
the sources).

In 1997, Babel - a joint initiative from Alis Technologies
(language translation services) and the Internet Society - ran
the first major study relating to distribution of languages on
the web. The results were published in June 1997 on a webpage
named Web Languages Hit Parade. The main languages were English
with 82.3%, German with 4.0%, Japanese with 1.6%, French with
1.5%, Spanish with 1.1%, Swedish with 1.1%, and Italian with

In July 1998, according to Global Reach, a company specializing
in international online marketing, the fastest growing groups
of internet users were non-English-speaking: Spanish-speaking,
22.4%, Japanese-speaking, 12.3%; German-speaking, 14%; and
French-speaking, 10% - with 56 million non-English-speaking
users. More than 80% of all webpages were still in English,
whereas only 6% of the world population spoke English as a
native language (16% spoke Spanish).

Randy Hobler was a consultant in internet marketing for
Globalink, a company specializing in language translation
software and services. He wrote in September 1998: "85% of the
content of the web in 1998 is in English and going down. This
trend is driven not only by more websites and users in non-
English-speaking countries, but by increasing localization of
company and organization sites, and increasing use of machine
translation to/from various languages to translate websites."

Randy also brought up the concept of "language nations":
"Because the internet has no national boundaries, the
organization of users is bounded by other criteria driven by
the medium itself. In terms of multilingualism, you have
virtual communities, for example, of what I call 'Language
Nations'... all those people on the internet wherever they may
be, for whom a given language is their native language. Thus,
the Spanish Language nation includes not only Spanish and Latin
American users, but millions of Hispanic users in the U.S., as
well as odd places like Spanish-speaking Morocco."

Robert Ware created OneLook Dictionaries in April 1996, as a
"fast finder" of words in hundreds of online dictionaries. He
wrote about an experience he had in 1994, that showed the
internet could promote both a common language and
multilingualism: "In 1994, I was working for a college and
trying to install a software package on a particular type of
computer. I located a person who was working on the same
problem and we began exchanging email. Suddenly, it hit me...
the software was written only 30 miles away but I was getting
help from a person half way around the world. Distance and
geography no longer mattered! OK, this is great! But what is it
leading to? I am only able to communicate in English but,
fortunately, the other person could use English as well as
German which was his mother tongue. The internet has removed
one barrier (distance) but with that comes the barrier of
language. It seems that the internet is moving people in two
quite different directions at the same time. The internet
(initially based on English) is connecting people all around
the world. This is further promoting a common language for
people to use for communication. But it is also creating
contact between people of different languages and creates a
greater interest in multilingualism. A common language is great
but in no way replaces this need. So the internet promotes both
a common language *and* multilingualism. The good news is that
it helps provide solutions. The increased interest and need is
creating incentives for people around the world to create
improved language courses and other assistance, and the
internet is providing fast and inexpensive opportunities to
make them available."

The internet could also be a tool to develop a "cultural
identity". During the Symposium on Multimedia Convergence
organized by the International Labor Office (ILO) in January
1997, Shinji Matsumoto, general secretary of the Musicians'
Union of Japan (MUJ), explained: "Japan is quite receptive to
foreign culture and foreign technology. (...) Foreign culture
is pouring into Japan and, in fact, the domestic market is
being dominated by foreign products. Despite this, when it
comes to preserving and further developing Japanese culture,
there has been insufficient support from the government. (...)
With the development of information networks, the earth is
getting smaller and it is wonderful to be able to make cultural
exchanges across vast distances and to deepen mutual
understanding among people. We have to remember to respect
national cultures and social systems."

As the internet quickly spread worldwide, more and more people
in the U.S. realized that, although English may stay the main
international language for exchanges of all kinds, not everyone
in the world reads English and, even so, people prefer to read
information in their own language. To reach as large an
audience as possible, companies and organizations needed to
offer bilingual, trilingual, even multilingual websites, while
adapting their content to a given audience. Thus the need of
both internationalization and localization, which became a
major trend in the following years, not only in the U.S. but in
many countries, where foreign companies set up bilingual
websites - in their language and in English - to reach a wider
audience, and get more clients.

Translation software available on the web was far from perfect,
but was helpful, because instantaneous and free, unlike a high-
quality professional translation. In December 1997, AltaVista,
a leading search engine, was the first to launch such software
with Babel Fish - also called AltaVista Translation -, which
could translate webpages (up to three pages at the same time)
from English into French, German, Italian, Portuguese or
Spanish, and vice versa. The software was developed by Systran,
a company specializing in machine translation. This initiative
was followed by others, with free and/or paid versions on the
web, developed by Alis Technologies, Globalink, Lernout &
Hauspie, IBM (with the WebSphere Translation Server),
Softissimo, Champollion, TMX or Trados.

Brian King, director of the WorldWide Language Institute
(WWLI), brought up the concept of "linguistic democracy" in
September 1998: "Whereas 'mother-tongue education' was deemed a
human right for every child in the world by a UNESCO report in
the early '50s, 'mother-tongue surfing' may very well be the
Information Age equivalent. If the internet is to truly become
the Global Network that it is promoted as being, then all
users, regardless of language background, should have access to
it. To keep the internet as the preserve of those who, by
historical accident, practical necessity, or political
privilege, happen to know English, is unfair to those who

Jean-Pierre Cloutier was the editor of "Chroniques de Cybérie",
a weekly French-language online report of internet news. He
wrote in August 1999: "We passed a milestone this summer. Now
more than half the users of the internet live outside the
United States. Next year, more than half of all users will be
non English-speaking, compared with only 5% five years ago.
Isn't that great?"

The internet did pass this second milestone in summer 2000,
with non-English-speaking users reaching 50%. As shown in the
statistics of Global Reach, they were 52.5% in summer 2001, 57%
in December 2001, 59.8% in April 2002, 64.4% in September 2003
(with 34.9% non-English-speaking Europeans and 29.4% Asians),
and 64.2% in March 2004 (with 37.9% non-English-speaking
Europeans and 33% Asians).

= From ASCII to Unicode

Used since the beginning of computing, ASCII (American Standard
Code for Information Interchange) is a 7-bit coded character
set for information interchange in English. It was published in
1968 by ANSI (American National Standards Institute), with an
update in 1977 and 1986. The 7-bit plain ASCII, also called
Plain Vanilla ASCII, is a set of 128 characters with 95
printable unaccented characters (A-Z, a-z, numbers, punctuation
and basic symbols), i.e. the ones that are available on the
English/American keyboard.

With the use of other European languages, extensions of ASCII
(also called ISO-8859 or ISO-Latin) were created as sets of 256
characters to add accented characters as found in French,
Spanish and German, for example ISO 8859-1 (ISO-Latin-1) for

Yoshi Mikami, who lives in Fujisawa, Japan, launched the
bilingual (Japanese, English) website "The Languages of the
World by Computers and the Internet", also known as Logos Home
Page or Kotoba Home Page, in late 1995. Yoshi was the co-author
(with Kenji Sekine and Nobutoshi Kohara) of "The Multilingual
Web Guide" (Japanese edition), a print book published by
O'Reilly Japan in August 1997, and translated in 1998 into
English, French and German.

Yoshi Mikami explained in December 1998: "My native tongue is
Japanese. Because I had my graduate education in the U.S. and
worked in the computer business, I became bilingual in Japanese
and American English. I was always interested in languages and
different cultures, so I learned some Russian, French and
Chinese along the way. In late 1995, I created on the web The
Languages of the World by Computers and the Internet and tried
to summarize there the brief history, linguistic and phonetic
features, writing system and computer processing aspects for
each of the six major languages of the world, in English and
Japanese. As I gained more experience, I invited my two
associates to help me write a book on viewing, understanding
and creating multilingual web pages, which was published in
August 1997 as 'The Multilingual Web Guide', in a Japanese
edition, the world's first book on such a subject."

Yoshi added in the same email interview: "Thousands of years
ago, in Egypt, China and elsewhere, people were more concerned
about communicating their laws and thoughts not in just one
language, but in several. In our modern world, most nation
states have each adopted one language for their own use. I
predict greater use of different languages and multilingual
pages on the internet, not a simple gravitation to American
English, and also more creative use of multilingual computer
translation. 99% of the websites created in Japan are written
in Japanese."

Brian King, director of the WorldWide Language Institute
(WWLI), explained in September 1998: "A pull from non-English-
speaking computer users and a push from technology companies
competing for global markets has made localization a fast
growing area in software and hardware development. This
development has not been as fast as it could have been. The
first step was for ASCII to become Extended ASCII. This meant
that computers could begin to start recognizing the accents and
symbols used in variants of the English alphabet - mostly used
by European languages. But only one language could be displayed
on a page at a time. (...) The most recent development is
Unicode. Although still evolving and only just being
incorporated into the latest software, this new coding system
translates each character into 16 bytes. Whereas 8-byte
Extended ASCII could only handle a maximum of 256 characters,
Unicode can handle over 65,000 unique characters and therefore
potentially accommodate all of the world's writing systems on
the computer. So now the tools are more or less in place. They
are still not perfect, but at last we can at least surf the web
in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and numerous other languages that
don't use the Western alphabet. As the internet spreads to
parts of the world where English is rarely used - such as
China, for example, it is natural that Chinese, and not
English, will be the preferred choice for interacting with it.
For the majority of the users in China, their mother tongue
will be the only choice."

Ten years later, in 2008, 50% of all the documents available on
the internet were encoded in Unicode, with the other 50%
encoded in ASCII. ASCII is still very useful, especially the
original 7-bit plain ASCII, because it can be read, written,
copied and printed by any text editor or word processor, and it
is the only format compatible with 99% of all hardware and

First published in January 1991, Unicode "provides a unique
number for every character, no matter what the platform, no
matter what the program, no matter what the language" (excerpt
from the website). This double-byte platform-independent
encoding provides a basis for the processing, storage and
interchange of text data in any language, and any modern
software and information technology protocols. Unicode is
maintained by the Unicode Consortium, and is a component of the
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) specifications.

= Language dictionaries

Logos is an international translation company with headquarters
in Modena, Italy. In 1997, Logos had 200 in-house translators
in Modena and 2,500 free-lance translators worldwide, who
processed around 200 texts per day. The company made a bold
move, and decided to put on the web all the linguistic tools
used by its translators, for the internet community to freely
use them as well. The linguistic tools were the Logos
Dictionary, a multilingual dictionary with 7 billion words (in
fall 1998); the Logos Wordtheque, a multilingual library with
300 billion words extracted from translated novels, technical
manuals and other texts; the Logos Linguistic Resources, a
database of 500 glossaries; and the Logos Universal Conjugator,
a database for verbs in 17 languages.

When interviewed by Annie Kahn on December 7, 1997 for the
French daily Le Monde, Rodrigo Vergara, head of Logos,
explained: "We wanted all our translators to have access to the
same translation tools. So we made them available on the
internet, and while we were at it we decided to make the site
open to the public. This made us extremely popular, and also
gave us a lot of exposure. This move has in fact attracted many
customers, and also allowed us to widen our network of
translators, thanks to contacts made in the wake of the

In the same article, Annie Kahn wrote: "The Logos site is much
more than a mere dictionary or a collection of links to other
online dictionaries. The cornerstone is the document search
program, which processes a corpus of literary texts available
free of charge on the web. If you search for the definition or
the translation of a word ('didactique', for example), you get
not only the answer sought, but also a quote from one of the
literary works containing the word (in our case, an essay by
Voltaire). All it takes is a click on the mouse to access the
whole text or even to order the book, including in foreign
translations, thanks to a partnership agreement with the famous
online bookstore Amazon.com. However, if no text containing the
required word is found, the program acts as a search engine,
sending the user to other web sources containing this word. In
the case of certain words, you can even hear the pronunciation.
If there is no translation currently available, the system
calls on the public to contribute. Everyone can make
suggestions, after which Logos translators check the suggested
translations they receive."

Robert Beard, a language teacher at Bucknell University (in
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania), founded the website "A Web of Online
Dictionaries" (WOD) in 1995, and included it then in a larger
project, yourDictionary.com, that he cofounded in early 2000.
He wrote in January 2000: "The new website is an index of
1,200+ dictionaries in more than 200 languages. Besides the
WOD, the new website includes a word-of-the-day-feature, word
games, a language chat room, the old 'Web of Online Grammars'
(now expanded to include additional language resources), the
'Web of Linguistic Fun', multilingual dictionaries; specialized
English dictionaries; thesauri and other vocabulary aids;
language identifiers and guessers, and other features;
dictionary indices. yourDictionary.com will hopefully be the
premiere language portal and the largest language resource site
on the web. It is now actively acquiring dictionaries and
grammars of all languages with a particular focus on endangered
languages. It is overseen by a blue ribbon panel of linguistic
experts from all over the world."

yourDictionary.com wants to be the premiere portal for all
languages without any exception, and as such offers a specific
section called Endangered Language Repository. Robert Beard
explained in the same email interview: "Languages that are
endangered are primarily languages without writing systems at
all (only 1/3 of the world's 6,000+ languages have writing
systems). I still do not see the web contributing to the loss
of language identity and still suspect it may, in the long run,
contribute to strengthening it. More and more Native Americans,
for example, are contacting linguists, asking them to write
grammars of their language and help them put up dictionaries.
For these people, the web is an affordable boon for cultural

The 6,700 languages of our planet are catalogued in "The
Ethnologue: Languages of the World", an encyclopedia published
by SIL International (SIL: Summer Institute of Linguistics).
Barbara Grimes was the editor of the 8th to 14th editions,
1971-2000. She wrote in January 2000: "The Ethnologue is a
catalog of the languages of the world, with information about
where they are spoken, an estimate of the number of speakers,
what language family they are in, alternate names, names of
dialects, other socio-linguistic and demographic information,
dates of published Bibles, a name index, a language family
index, and language maps." The Ethnologue is freely available
on the web. The print version and CD-ROM can be bought online.

= Minority languages

Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle teaches computing - through the Gaelic
language - at the Institute Sabhal Mór Ostaig, located on the
Island of Skye, in Scotland. He also maintains the bilingual
(English, Gaelic) college website, which is the main site
worldwide with information on Scottish Gaelic, as well as the
webpage European Minority Languages, a list of minority
languages by alphabetic order and by language family. He wrote
in May 2001: "There has been a great expansion in the use of
information technology in our college. Far more computers, more
computing staff, flat screens. Students do everything by
computer, use Gaelic spell-checking, and a Gaelic online
terminology database. There are more hits on our website. There
is more use of sound. Gaelic radio (both Scottish and Irish) is
now available continuously worldwide via the internet. A major
project has been the translation of the Opera web browser into
Gaelic - the first software of this size available in Gaelic."

What about the internet and endangered languages? "I would
emphasize the point that as regards the future of endangered
languages, the internet speeds everything up. If people don't
care about preserving languages, the internet and accompanying
globalisation will greatly speed their demise. If people do
care about preserving them, the internet will be a tremendous

Guy Antoine is the founder of Windows on Haiti, a reference
website about Haitian culture. He wrote in November 1999: "In
Windows on Haiti, the primary language of the site is English,
but one will equally find a center of lively discussion
conducted in 'Kreyòl'. In addition, one will find documents
related to Haiti in French, in the old colonial Creole, and I
am open to publishing others in Spanish and other languages. I
do not offer any sort of translation, but multilingualism is
alive and well at the site, and I predict that this will
increasingly become the norm throughout the web."

Guy added in June 2001: "Kreyòl is the only national language
of Haiti, and one of its two official languages, the other
being French. It is hardly a minority language in the Caribbean
context, since it is spoken by eight to ten million people.
(...) I have taken the promotion of Kreyòl as a personal cause,
since that language is the strongest of bonds uniting all
Haitians, in spite of a small but disproportionately
influential Haitian elite's disdainful attitude to adopting
standards for the writing of Kreyòl and supporting the
publication of books and official communications in that
language. For instance, there was recently a two-week book
event in Haiti's Capital and it was promoted as 'Livres en
folie' ('A mad feast for books'). Some 500 books from Haitian
authors were on display, among which one could find perhaps 20
written in Kreyòl. This is within the context of France's major
push to celebrate Francophony among its former colonies. This
plays rather well in Haiti, but directly at the expense of
Creolophony. What I have created in response to those attitudes
are two discussion forums on my website, Windows on Haiti, held
exclusively in Kreyòl. One is for general discussions on just
about everything but obviously more focused on Haiti's current
socio-political problems. The other is reserved only to debates
of writing standards for Kreyòl. Those debates have been quite
spirited and have met with the participation of a number of
linguistic experts. The uniqueness of these forums is their
non-academic nature."

= Translations

Henk Slettenhaar is a professor in communication technologies
at Webster University, Geneva, Switzerland. He has regularly
insisted on the need of bilingual websites, in the original
language and in English. He wrote in December 1998: "I see
multilingualism as a very important issue. Local communities
that are on the web should principally use the local language
for their information. If they want to present it to the world
community as well, it should be in English too. I see a real
need for bilingual websites. I am delighted there are so many
offerings in the original language now. I much prefer to read
the original with difficulty than getting a bad translation."

Henk added in August 1999: "There are two main categories of
websites in my opinion. The first one is the global outreach
for business and information. Here the language is definitely
English first, with local versions where appropriate. The
second one is local information of all kinds in the most remote
places. If the information is meant for people of an ethnic
and/or language group, it should be in that language first,
with perhaps a summary in English. We have seen lately how
important these local websites are - in Kosovo and Turkey, to
mention just the most recent ones. People were able to get
information about their relatives through these sites."

Jean-Pierre Cloutier was the editor of "Chroniques de Cybérie",
a weekly French-language online report of internet news. Jean-
Pierre wrote in August 1999: "The web is going to grow in non-
English-speaking regions. So we have to take into account the
technical aspects of the medium if we want to reach these 'new'
users. I think it is a pity there are so few translations of
important documents and essays published on the web - from
English into other languages and vice versa. (...) In the same
way, the recent spreading of the internet in new regions raises
questions which would be good to read about. When will Spanish-
speaking communication theorists and those speaking other
languages be translated?"

Marcel Grangier is the head of the French Section of the Swiss
Federal Government's Central Linguistic Services, which means
he is in charge of organizing translations into French for the
Swiss government. He wrote in January 1999: "We can see
multilingualism on the internet as a happy and irreversible
inevitability. So we have to laugh at the doomsayers who only
complain about the supremacy of English. Such supremacy is not
wrong in itself, because it is mainly based on statistics (more
PCs per inhabitant, more people speaking English, etc.). The
answer is not to 'fight' English, much less whine about it, but
to build more sites in other languages. As a translation
service, we also recommend that websites be multilingual. The
increasing number of languages on the internet is inevitable
and can only boost multicultural exchanges. For this to happen
in the best possible circumstances, we still need to develop
tools to improve compatibility. Fully coping with accents and
other characters is only one example of what can be done."


= [Overview]

Creative Commons (CC) was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessing,
a professor at Stanford Law School, California. As explained on
its website, "Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation
dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build
upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of
copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to
mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to
carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any
combination thereof." There were one million Creative Commons
licensed works in 2003, 4.7 million licensed works in 2004, 20
million licensed works in 2005, 50 million licensed works in
2006, 90 million licensed works in 2007, and 130 million
licensed works in 2008. Science Commons was founded in 2005 to
"design strategies and tools for faster, more efficient web-
enabled scientific research." ccLearn was founded in 2007 as "a
division of Creative Commons dedicated to realizing the full
potential of the internet to support open learning and open
educational resources."

= Copyright on the web

What did people think about copyright on the web, when there
were heated debated about print articles and other copyrighted
works being posted and re-posted without the consent of their
authors? Here are some answers.

Based in San Francisco, California, Jacques Gauchey was a
journalist in information technology and a "facilitator"
between the United States and Europe. He wrote in July 1999:
"Copyright in its traditional context doesn't exist any more.
Authors have to get used to a new situation: the total freedom
of the flow of information. The original content is like a
fingerprint: it can't be copied. So it will survive and

Guy Antoine is the founder of Windows on Haiti, a reference
website about Haitian culture. He wrote in November 1999: "The
debate will continue forever, as information becomes more
conspicuous than the air that we breathe and more fluid than
water. (...) Authors will have to become a lot more creative in
terms of how to control the dissemination of their work and
profit from it. The best that we can do right now is to promote
basic standards of professionalism, and insist at the very
least that the source and authorship of any work be duly
acknowledged. Technology will have to evolve to support the
authorization process."

Alain Bron is a consultant in information systems and a
novelist. He wrote in November 1999: "I regard the web today as
a public domain. That means in practice the notion of copyright
on it disappears: everyone can copy everyone else. Anything
original risks being copied at once if copyrights are not
formally registered or if works are available without payment
facilities. A solution is to make people pay for information,
but this is no watertight guarantee against it being copied."

Peter Raggett was the deputy-head (and now the head) of the
OECD Central Library (OECD: Organization for Economic and
Cooperation Development). He wrote in August 1999: "The
copyright question is still very unclear. Publishers naturally
want their fees for each article ordered and librarians and
end-users want to be able to download immediately the full text
of articles. At the moment, each publisher seems to have its
own policy for access to electronic versions and they would
benefit from having some kind of homogenous policy, preferably
allowing unlimited downloading of their electronic material."

Tim McKenna is an author who thinks and writes about the
complexity of truth in a world of flux. He wrote in October
2000: "Copyright is a difficult issue. The owner of the
intellectual property thinks that s/he owns what s/he has
created. I believe that the consumer purchases the piece of
plastic (in the case of a CD) or the bounded pages (in the case
of book). The business community has not found a new way to add
value to intellectual property. Consumers don't think very
abstractly. When they download songs for example, they are
simply listening to them, they are not possessing them. The
music and publishing industry need to find ways to give
consumers tactile vehicles for selling the intellectual

= Copyright and WIPO

Since the web became mainstream, the posting by the thousands
of electronic texts and other documents has been an headache
for organizations in charge of applying the rules relating to
intellectual property.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an
intergovernmental organization, and one of the 16 specialized
agencies of the United Nations. It is responsible for
protecting intellectual property throughout the world through
cooperation among countries. It is also responsible for
implementing various multilateral treaties dealing with the
legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property.

Intellectual property comprises industrial property and
copyright. Industrial property relates to inventions,
trademarks, industrial designs and appellations of origin.
Copyright relates to literary, musical, artistic, photographic
and audiovisual works. WIPO stated on its website in 1999: "As
regards the number of literary and artistic works created
worldwide, it is difficult to make a precise estimate. However,
the information available indicates that at present around
1,000,000 books/titles are published and some 5,000 feature
films are produced in a year, and the number of copies of
phonograms sold per year presently is more than 3,000 million."

Copyright protection means that using a copyrighted work is
lawful only if we get authorization from the copyright owner.
As explained by WIPO on its website in the section
"International Protection of Copyright and Neighbouring
Rights", the authorizations granted by the copyright owner can
be: "The right to copy or otherwise reproduce any kind of work;
the right to distribute copies to the public; the right to rent
copies of at least certain categories of works (such as
computer programs and audiovisual works); the right to make
sound recordings of the performances of literary and musical
works; the right to perform in public, particularly musical,
dramatic or audiovisual works; the right to communicate to the
public by cable or otherwise the performances of such works
and, particularly, to broadcast, by radio, television or other
wireless means, any kind of work; the right to translate
literary works; the right to rent, particularly, audiovisual
works, works embodied in phonograms and computer programs; the
right to adapt any kind of work and particularly the right to
make audiovisual works thereof."

Under some national laws, some of these rights - which together
are referred to as "economic rights" - are not exclusive rights
of authorization but, in some specific cases, merely rights to
remuneration. In addition to economic rights, authors - whether
or not they own the economic rights - enjoy "moral rights" on
the basis of which authors have the right to claim their
authorship and require that their names be indicated on the
copies of the work and in connection with other uses, and they
have the right to oppose the mutilation or deformation of their

= Shrinking of public domain

Michael Hart created Doctrine Publishing Corporation in July 1971 to make
electronic versions of literary works and disseminate them for
free. In 2009, Doctrine Publishing Corporation has had tens of thousands of
downloads every day. As recalled by Michael in January 2009, "I
knew [in July 1971] that the future of computing, and the
internet, was going to be... 'The Information Age.' That was
also the day I said we would be able to carry quite literally
the entire Library of Congress in one hand and the system would
certainly make it illegal... too much power to leave in the
hands of the masses."

As defined by Doctrine Publishing Corporation, "public domain is the set of
cultural works that are free of copyright, and belong to
everyone equally", i.e. for books, the ones that can be
digitized and released on the internet for free. But the task
of Doctrine Publishing Corporation hasn't be made any easier by the
increasing restrictions to public domain. In former times, 50%
of works belonged to public domain, and could be freely used by
everybody. A much tougher legislation was set in place over the
centuries, step by step, especially during the 20th century,
despite our so-called "information society". In 2100, 99% of
works might be governed by copyright, with a meager 1% for
public domain.

In the "Copyright HowTo" section of its website, Project
Gutenberg explains how to confirm the public domain status of
books according to U.S. copyright laws. Here is a summary: (a)
Works published before 1923 entered the public domain no later
than 75 years from the copyright date: all these works belong
to public domain; (b) Works published between 1923 and 1977
retain copyright for 95 years: no such works will enter the
public domain until 2019; (c) Works created from 1978 on enter
the public domain 70 years after the death of the author if the
author is a natural person: nothing will enter the public
domain until 2049; (d) Works created from 1978 on enter the
public domain 95 years after publication or 120 years after
creation if the author is a corporate one: nothing will enter
the public domain until 2074.

Each copyright legislation is more restrictive than the
previous one. A major blow for digital libraries was the
amendment to the 1976 Copyright Act signed on October 27, 1998.
As explained by Michael Hart in July 1999: "Nothing will expire
for another 20 years. We used to have to wait 75 years. Now it
is 95 years. And it was 28 years (+ a possible 28-year
extension, only on request) before that, and 14 years (+ a
possible 14-year extension) before that. So, as you can see,
this is a serious degrading of the public domain, as a matter
of continuing policy."

John Mark Ockerbloom, founder of The Online Books Page in 1993,
got also deeply concerned by the 1998 amendment. He wrote in
August 1999: "I think it is important for people on the web to
understand that copyright is a social contract that is designed
for the public good - where the public includes both authors
and readers. This means that authors should have the right to
exclusive use of their creative works for limited times, as is
expressed in current copyright law. But it also means that
their readers have the right to copy and reuse the work at will
once copyright expires. In the U.S. now, there are various
efforts to take rights away from readers, by restricting fair
use, lengthening copyright terms (even with some proposals to
make them perpetual) and extending intellectual property to
cover facts separate from creative works (such as found in the
'database copyright' proposals). There are even proposals to
effectively replace copyright law altogether with potentially
much more onerous contract law. (...) Stakeholders in this
debate have to face reality, and recognize that both producers
and consumers of works have legitimate interests in their use.
If intellectual property is then negotiated by a balance of
principles, rather than as the power play it is too often ends
up being ('big money vs. rogue pirates'), we may be able to
come up with some reasonable accommodations."

Michael Hart wrote in July 1999: "No one has said more against
copyright extensions than I have, but Hollywood and the big
publishers have seen to it that our Congress won't even mention
it in public. The kind of copyright debate going on is totally
impractical. It is run by and for the 'Landed Gentry of the
Information Age.' 'Information Age'? For whom?"

Sure enough. We regularly hear about the great "information
age" we live in, while seeing the tightening of laws relating
to dissemination of information. The contradiction is obvious.
This problem has also affected several European countries,
where the copyright law switched from "author's life plus 50
years" to "author's life plus 70 years", following pressure
from content owners who successfully lobbied for
"harmonization" of national copyright laws as a response to
"globalization of the market". To regulate the copyright of
digital editions in the wake of the relevant WIPO international
treaties, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was
ratified in October 1998 in the United States, and the European
Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) was ratified in May 2001 by
the European Commission.

According to Michael Hart, and Doctrine Publishing Corporation CEO Greg
Newby, "as of January 2009, the total number of separate public
domain books in the world is between 20 and 30 million, and
that 5 million are already on the internet, and we expect
another million per year from now until all the easy-to-find
books are done. 10 million or so will be done before people
start to think about the facts telling them the rate cannot
continue to double as they come up to the point of already
having done half. New copyrights lasting virtually for ever in
the U.S. will bring the growth process to a screeching halt
when The Mickey Mouse copyright laws, literally, copyright laws
on Mickey Mouse, and Winnie-the-Pooh, etc., stop all current
copyright from expiring for the forseeable future."

= Copyleft and Creative Commons

The term "copyleft" was invented in 1984 by Richard Stallman, a
computer scientist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of
Technology), who launched the GNU project to develop a complete
Unix-like operating system called the GNU system.

As explained on the GNU website: "Copyleft is a general method
for making a program or other work free, and requiring all
modified and extended versions of the program to be free as
well. (...) Copyleft says that anyone who redistributes the
software, with or without changes, must pass along the freedom
to further copy and change it. Copyleft guarantees that every
user has freedom. (...) Copyleft is a way of using of the
copyright on the program. It doesn't mean abandoning the
copyright; in fact, doing so would make copyleft impossible.
The word 'left' in 'copyleft' is not a reference to the verb
'to leave' — only to the direction which is the inverse of
'right'. (...) The GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) is a
form of copyleft intended for use on a manual, textbook or
other document to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy
and redistribute it, with or without modifications, either
commercially or non commercially."

Creative Commons (CC) was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessing,
a professor at Stanford Law School, California. As explained on
its website: "Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation
dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build
upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of
copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to
mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to
carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any
combination thereof."

There were one million Creative Commons licensed works in 2003,
4.7 million licensed works in 2004, 20 million licensed works
in 2005, 50 million licensed works in 2006, 90 million licensed
works in 2007, and 130 million licensed works in 2008.

Science Commons was founded in 2005. As explained on its
website: "Science Commons designs strategies and tools for
faster, more efficient web-enabled scientific research. We
identify unnecessary barriers to research, craft policy
guidelines and legal agreements to lower those barriers, and
develop technology to make research, data and materials easier
to find and use. Our goal is to speed the translation of data
into discovery — unlocking the value of research so more people
can benefit from the work scientists are doing."

ccLearn was founded in 2007. As explained on its website:
"ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons dedicated to
realizing the full potential of the internet to support open
learning and open educational resources. Our mission is to
minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing and
reuse of educational materials."


= [Overview]

The MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) is an initiative launched by
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 2002 to put its
course materials for free on the web, as a way to promote open
dissemination of knowledge. In September 2002, a pilot version
was available online with 32 course materials. In November
2007, all 1,800 course materials were available, with 200 new
and updated courses per year. From 2003 onwards, in the same
spirit of free access of knowledge, the Public Library of
Science (PLoS) launched several high-quality online
periodicals. New kinds of encyclopedias were set up, for the
general public to both use available articles and contribute to
their writing. Wikipedia, launched in 2001, became the leading
online cooperative encyclopedia worldwide, with hundreds and
then thousands of contributors writing articles or editing and
updating them, leading the way to other initiatives like
Citizendium. launched in 2006, and the Encyclopedia of Life,
launched in 2007.

= Culture, from print to digital

More and more computers connected to the internet were
available in schools and at home in the mid-1990s. Teachers
began exploring new ways of teaching. Going from print book
culture to digital culture was changing relationship to
knowledge, and the way both scholars and students were seeing
teaching and learning. Print book culture provided stable
information whereas digital culture provided "moving"
information. During a conference organized by the International
Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) in September 1996,
Dale Spender gave a lecture about "Creativity and the Computer
Education Industry", with insightful comments on forthcoming

Here are some excerpts:

"Throughout print culture, information has been contained in
books - and this has helped to shape our notion of information.
For the information in books stays the same - it endures. And
this has encouraged us to think of information as stable - as a
body of knowledge which can be acquired, taught, passed on,
memorised, and tested of course. The very nature of print
itself has fostered a sense of truth; truth too is something
which stays the same, which endures. And there is no doubt that
this stability, this orderliness, has been a major contributor
to the huge successes of the industrial age and the scientific
revolution. (...)

But the digital revolution changes all this. Suddenly it is not
the oldest information - the longest lasting information that
is the most reliable and useful. It is the very latest
information that we now put the most faith in - and which we
will pay the most for. (...) Education will be about
participating in the production of the latest information. This
is why education will have to be ongoing throughout life and
work. Every day there will be something new that we will all
have to learn. To keep up. To be in the know. To do our jobs.
To be members of the digital community. And far from teaching a
body of knowledge that will last for life, the new generation
of information professionals will be required to search out,
add to, critique, 'play with', and daily update information,
and to make available the constant changes that are occurring."

Russon Wooldridge, a professor in the Department of French
Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada, wrote in February
2001: "All my teaching makes the most of internet resources
(web and email): the two common places for a course are the
classroom and the website of the course, where I put all course
materials. I have published all my research data of the last 20
years on the web (re-edition of books, articles, texts of old
dictionaries as interactive databases, treaties from the 16th
century, etc.). I publish proceedings of symposiums, I publish
a journal, I collaborate with French colleagues by publishing
online in Toronto what they can't publish online at home. In
May 2000, I organized an international symposium in Toronto
about French studies enhanced by new technologies (Les études
françaises valorisées par les nouvelles technologies). (...)

I realize that without the internet I wouldn't have as many
activities, or at least they would be very different from the
ones I have today. So I don't see the future without them. But
it is crucial that those who believe in free dissemination of
knowledge make sure that knowledge is not 'eaten' by commercial
ventures for them to sell it. What has happened in book
publishing in France, in linguistics for example, where you can
only find textbooks for schools and exams, should be avoided on
the web. You don't go to Amazon.com and the likes to find
disinterested science. On my website, I refuse any

= A few leading projects

# MIT OpenCourseWare

The MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) is an initiative launched by
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to put its course
materials for free on the web, as a way to promote open
dissemination of knowledge. In September 2002, a pilot version
was available online with 32 course materials. The website was
officially launched in September 2003. 500 course materials
were available in March 2004. In May 2006, 1,400 course
materials were offered by 34 departments belonging to the five
schools of MIT. In November 2007, all 1,800 course materials
were available, with 200 new and updated courses per year.

MIT also launched the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCW
Consortium) in November 2005, as a collaboration of educational
institutions that were willing to offer free online course
materials. One year later, it included the course materials of
100 universities worldwide.

# Public Library of Science

With the internet as a powerful medium to disseminate
information, it seems quite outrageous that the results of
research - original works requiring many years of efforts -
are "squatted" by publishers claiming ownership on these works,
and selling them at a high price. The work of researchers is
often publicly funded, especially in North America. It would
therefore seem appropriate that the scientific community and
the general public can freely enjoy the results of such
research. In science and medicine for example, more than 1,000
new articles reviewed by peers are published daily.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) was founded in October
2000 by biomedical scientists Harold Varmus, Patrick Brown and
Michael Eisen, from Stanford University, Palo Alto, and
University of California, Berkeley. Headquartered in San
Francisco, PLoS is a non-profit organization whose mission is
to make the world’s scientific and medical literature a public
resource in free online archives. Instead of information
disseminated in millions of reports and thousands of online
journals, a single point would give access to the full content
of these articles, with a search engine and hyperlinks between

PLoS posted an open letter requesting the articles presently
published by journals to be distributed freely in online
archives, and asking researchers to promote the publishers
willing to support this project. From October 2000 to September
2002, the open letter was signed by 30,000 scientists from 180
countries. The publishers' answer was much less enthusiastic,
although a number of publishers agreed for their articles to be
distributed freely immediately after publication, or six months
after publication in their journals. But even the publishers
who initially agreed to support the project made so many
objections that it was finally abandoned.

Another objective of PLoS was to become a publisher while
creating a new model of online publishing based on free
dissemination of knowledge. In early 2003, PLoS created a non-
profit scientific and medical publishing venture to provide
scientists and physicians with free high-quality, high-profile
journals in which to publish their work. The journals were PLoS
Biology (launched in 2003), PLoS Medicine (2004), PLoS Genetics
(2005), PLoS Computational Biology (2005), PLoS Pathogens
(2005), PLoS Clinical Trials (2006) and PLoS Neglected Tropical
Diseases (2007), the first scientific journal on this topic.

All PLoS articles are freely available online, on the websites
of PLoS and in the public archive PubMed Central, run by the
National Library of Medicine. The articles can be freely
redistributed and reused under a Creative Commons license,
including for translations, as long as the author(s) and source
are cited. PLoS also launched PLoS ONE, an online forum meant
to publish articles on any subject relating to science or

Three years after the beginning of PLoS as a publisher, PLoS
Biology and PLoS Medicine have had the same reputation for
excellence as the leading journals Nature, Science and The New
England Journal of Medicine. PLoS has received financial
support from several foundations  while developing a viable
economic model from fees paid by published authors,
advertising, sponsorship, and paid activities organized for
PLoS members. PLoS also hopes to encourage other publishers to
adopt the open access model, or to convert their existing
journals to an open access model.

# Wikipedia

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry
Sanger (Larry resigned later on). It has quickly grown into the
largest reference website on the internet, financed by
donations, with no advertising. Its multilingual content is
free and written collaboratively by people worldwide, who
contribute under a pseudonym. Its website is a wiki, which
means that anyone can edit, correct and improve information
throughout the encyclopedia. The articles stay the property of
their authors, and can be freely used according to the GFDL
(GNU Free Documentation License).

In December 2004, Wikipedia had 1.3 million articles (by 13,000
contributors) in 100 languages. In December 2006, it had 6
million articles in 250 languages. In May 2007, it had 7
million articles in 192 languages, including 1.8 million
articles in English, 589,000 articles in German, 500,000
articles in French, 260,000 articles in Portuguese, and 236,000
articles in Spanish.

Wikipedia is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, founded in
June 2003, which has run a number of other projects, beginning
with Wiktionary (launched in December 2002) and Wikibooks
(launched in June 2003), followed by Wikiquote, Wikisource
(texts from public domain), Wikimedia Commons (multimedia),
Wikispecies (animals and plants), Wikinews,  Wikiversity
(textbooks), and Wiki Search (search engine).

# Citizendium

Citizendium was launched in October 2006 as a pilot project to
build a new encyclopedia, at the initiative of Larry Sanger,
who was the cofounder of Wikipedia (with Jimmy Wales) in
January 2001, but resigned later on, over policy and content
quality issues. Citizendium - which stands for a "citizen's
compendium of everything" - is a wiki project open to public
collaboration, but combining "public participation with gentle
expert guidance".

The project is experts-led, not experts-only. Contributors use
their own names, not anonymous pseudonyms (like in Wikipedia),
and they are guided by expert editors. As explained by Larry in
his essay "Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge", posted in
September 2006: "Editors will be able to make content decisions
in their areas of specialization, but otherwise working
shoulder-to-shoulder with ordinary authors." There are also
constables who make sure the rules are respected.

Citizendium was launched on March 25, 2007, with 1,100
articles, 820 authors and 180 editors. There were 9,800 high-
quality articles in January 2009, and 11,800 articles in August
2009. Citizendium also wants to act as a prototype for upcoming
large scale knowledge-building projects that would deliver
reliable reference, scholarly and educational content.

# Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life was launched in May 2007 as a global
scientific effort to document all known species of animals and
plants (1.8 million), including endangered species, and
expedite the millions of species yet to be discovered and
catalogued (about 8 million).

This collaborative effort is led by several main institutions:
Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine
Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian
Institution, Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). The initial
funding came from the MacArthur Foundation (US $10 million) and
the Sloan Foundation ($2.5 million). A $100 million funding
over ten years will be necessary before self-financing.

The multimedia encyclopedia will gather texts, photos, maps,
sound and videos, with a webpage for each species. It will
provide a single portal for millions of documents scattered
online and offline. As a teaching and learning tool for a
better understanding of our planet, the encyclopedia wants to
reach everyone: researchers, teachers, students, pupils, media,
policy makers and the general public.

The encyclopedia's honorary chair is Edward Wilson, professor
emeritus at Harvard University, who was the first to express
the wish for such an encyclopedia, in an essay dated 2002. Five
years later, his project could become reality thanks to
technology improvements for content aggregators, mash-up,
wikis, and large scale content management.

As a consortium of the ten largest life science libraries, the
Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) started the digitization of
2 million documents from public domain spanning over 200 years.
In May 2007, when the project was officially launched, 1.25
million pages were already digitized in London, Boston and
Washington DC, and available in the Text Archive section of the
Internet Archive.

The Encyclopedia of Life is built on the work of thousands of
experts around the globe, in a moderated wiki-style
environment, for the general public to be able to contribute.
The first pages were available in mid-2008. The encyclopedia
should be fully "operational" in 2012 and completed with all
known species in 2017. The English version will be translated
in several languages by partner organizations. People will be
able to use the encyclopedia as a "macroscope" to identify
major trends from a considerable stock of information - in the
same way they use a microscope for the study of detail.


= [Overview]

First, publishers began to sell digital versions of their books
online, on their own websites or on the new eBookstores of
Amazon.com and  Barnes & Noble.com. In 2000, new online
bookstores were created to sell "only" digital books (ebooks),
like Palm Digital Media (renamed Palm eBook Store), Mobipocket
or Numilog. At the same time, publishers were digitizing their
books by the hundreds, while the public was getting used to
read ebooks on computers, laptops, phones, smartphones and
reading devices. 2003 was a turning point in an emerging
market. More and more books were published simultaneously as a
print book and a digital book, and thousands of new books,
beginning with best-sellers, were sold as ebooks in various
formats: PDF (to be read on Acrobat Reader, replaced by Adobe
Reader), LIT (to be read on Microsoft Reader), PRC (to be read
on Mobipocket Reader) and others, with the Open eBook format
becoming a standard for ebooks.

= Books, from print to digital

The new online bookstores selling "only" digital books were
also called aggregators because they were producing and selling
ebooks from many publishers. It took them a few years (at least
in Europe) to convince publishers that books should have two
versions, print and digital, and to wait for the public to be
ready to read on an electronic device, be it a computer, a
laptop, a PDA, a mobile phone, a smartphone or a reading
device. This emerging market took off in 2003, and more and
more books were simultaneously published as a print book and a
digital book.

In the 1990s, few people believed digital books would be
commonplace in the near future. They thought people would still
be attached to print books regardless of whatever happened,
remembering this sentence of Robert Downs, a librarian who
wrote in the 1980s: "My lifelong love affair with books and
reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all
other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry." (excerpt from
"Books in My Life", Library of Congress, 1985)

In an article published in February 1996 by the Swiss magazine
"Informatique-Informations", Pierre Perroud, founder of the
digital library Athena, explained that "electronic texts
represent an encouragement to reading and a convivial
participation to culture dissemination", particularly for
textual research and text study. These texts are "a good
complement to the print book, which remains irreplaceable when
for 'true' reading. (...) The book remains a mysteriously holy
companion with profound symbolism for us: we grip it in our
hands, we hold it against us, we look at it with admiration;
its small size comforts us and its content impresses us; its
fragility contains a density we are fascinated by; like man it
fears water and fire, but it has the power to shelter man's
thoughts from time."

Roberto Hernández Montoya, an editor of the electronic magazine
Venezuela Analítica, wrote in September 1998: "The printed text
can't be replaced, at least not for the foreseeable future. The
paper book is a tremendous 'machine'. We can't leaf through an
electronic book in the same way as a paper book. On the other
hand electronic use allows us to locate text chains more
quickly. In a certain way we can more intensively read the
electronic text, even with the inconvenience of reading on the
screen. The electronic book is less expensive and can be more
easily distributed worldwide (if we don't count the cost of the
computer and the internet connection)."

In the 2000s, while many people still prefer reading a print
book, more and more readers enjoy reading their ebooks on their
notebook, smartphone or any other electronic device. They buy
their ebooks online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Yahoo, Palm,
Mobipocket or Numilog.

In March 2000, Numilog was founded by Denis Zwirn near Paris,
France, as a company specializing in the distribution of
digital books. Numilog launched in September 2000 an online
bookstore that became the main French-speaking aggregator of
digital books over the years. Numilog has sold books and
audiobooks in partnership with a number of publishers,
including Gallimard, POL, Le Dilettante, Le Rocher, La
Découverte, De Vive Voix, Eyrolles or Pearson Education France.
Numilog was bought in May 2008 by Hachette Livre, a leading
publishing group.

= Adobe Reader

Adobe launched PDF (Portable Document Format) in June 1993,
with Acrobat Reader (free, to read PDF documents) and Adobe
Acrobat (for a fee, to make PDF documents). As the "veteran"
format, PDF was perfected over the years as a global standard
for distribution and viewing of information. It "lets you
capture and view robust information from any application, on
any computer system and share it with anyone around the world.
Individuals, businesses, and government agencies everywhere
trust and rely on Adobe PDF to communicate their ideas and
vision" (excerpt from the website). Adobe Acrobat gave the
tools to create and view PDF files, in several languages and
for several platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux).

In August 2000, Adobe bought Glassbook, a company specializing
in digital books software for publishers, booksellers,
distributors and libraries. Adobe also partnered with
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com to offer ebooks for the
Acrobat Reader and the Glassbook Reader.

In January 2001, Adobe launched the Acrobat eBook Reader (free)
and the Adobe Content Server (for a fee).

The Acrobat eBook Reader was used to read PDF files of
copyrighted books, while adding notes and bookmarks, getting
the book covers in a personal library, and browsing a

The Adobe Content Server was intended for publishers and
distributors for the packaging, protection, distribution and
sale of copyrighted books in PDF format, while managing their
access with DRM (Digital Rights Management), according to
instructions given by the copyright holder, for example
allowing or not the printing and loan of ebooks. (It was
replaced with the Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server in November

In April 2001, Adobe partnered with Amazon.com, for the online
bookstore to include 2,000 copyrighted books for the Acrobat
eBook Reader. These were titles of major publishers, travel
guides, and children books.

The same year, the Acrobat Reader was available for PDAs,
beginning with the Palm Pilot (May 2001) and the Pocket PC
(December 2001).

Between 1993 and 2003, over 500 million copies of Acrobat
Reader were downloaded worldwide. In 2003, Acrobat Reader was
available in many languages and for many platforms (Windows,
Mac, Linux, Palm OS, Pocket PC, Symbian OS, etc.).
Approximately 10% of the documents on the internet were
available in PDF.

In May 2003, Acrobat Reader (5th version) merged with Acrobat
eBook Reader (2nd version) to become Adobe Reader (starting
with version 6), which could read both standard PDF files and
secure PDF files of copyrighted books.

In late 2003, Adobe opened its own online bookstore, the
Digital Media Store, with titles in PDF format from major
publishers (HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster,
etc.) as well as electronic versions of newspapers and
magazines like The New York Times, Popular Science, etc. Adobe
also launched Adobe eBooks Central as a service to read,
publish, sell and lend ebooks, and Adobe eBook Library as a
prototype digital library.

= Open eBook and ePub

In 1999, there were nearly as many ebook formats as ebooks,
with each new company creating its own format for its own ebook
reader (software) and its own electronic device, for example
the Glassbook Reader, the Peanut Reader, the Rocket eBook
Reader (for the Rocket eBook), the Franklin Reader (for the
eBookMan), the Cytale ebook reader (for the Cybook), the
Gemstar eBook Reader (for the Gemstar eBook), the Palm Reader
(for the Palm Pilot), etc.

The digital publishing industry felt the need to work on a
common format for ebooks. It released in September 1999 the
first version of the Open eBook (OeB) format, based on XML
(eXtensible Markup Language) and defined by the Open eBook
Publication Structure (OeBPS). The Open eBook Forum was created
in January 2000 to develop the OeB format and OeBPS
specifications. Since 2000, most ebook formats were derived
from - or are compatible with the OeB format, for example the
PRC format from Mobipocket or the LIT format from Microsoft.

In April 2005, the Open eBook Forum became the International
Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). The OeB format was replaced
with the ePub format, a global standard for ebooks with PDF.
The PDF files created with recent versions of Adobe Acrobat are
compatible with the ePub format.

= Microsoft Reader

Microsoft launched the Microsoft Reader in April 2000, for
people to read books in LIT (from "literature") format on its
new PDA, the Pocket PC. Four months later, in August 2000, the
Microsoft Reader was available for computers, and then for any
Windows platform, for example the platforms of the Tablets PC
launched in November 2002.

Microsoft billed publishers and distributors for the use of its
DRM technology through the Microsoft DAS Server, with a
commission on each sale. Microsoft also partnered with major
online bookstores - Barnes & Noble.com in January 2000 and
Amazon.com in August 2000 - for them to offer ebooks for the
Microsoft Reader in eBookstores soon to be launched. Barnes &
Noble.com opened its eBookstore in August 2000, followed  by
Amazon in November 2000.

= Mobipocket Reader

Mobipocket was founded in March 2000 in Paris, France, by
Thierry Brethes and Nathalie Ting, as a company specializing in
ebooks for PDAs. The Mobipocket format (PRC, based on the OeB
format) and the Mobipocket Reader were "universal" and could be
used on any PDA - and also on any computer from April 2002.
They quickly became global standards for ebooks on mobile

In October 2001, the Mobipocket Reader received the eBook
Technology Award from the International Book Fair in Frankfurt.
Mobipocket partnered with Franklin for the Mobipocket Reader to
be available on the eBookMan, Franklin's personal assistant,
instead of the initially planned Microsoft Reader.

The Mobipocket Web Companion was a software (for a fee) for
extracting content from partner news sites. The Mobipocket
Publisher was used by individuals (free version for private
use, and standard version for a fee) or publishers
(professional version for a fee) to create ebooks using the
Mobipocket DRM technology for controlling access to copyrighted
ebooks. The Mobipocket Publisher could also create ebooks in
LIT format for the Microsoft Reader.

In spring 2003, the Mobipocket Reader was available in several
languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian) and could
be used on any PDA and computer, and on the smartphones of
Nokia and Sony Ericsson. 6,000 titles in several languages were
available on Mobipocket's website and in partner online

Mobipocket was bought by Amazon in April 2005. It now operates
within the Amazon brand, with a multilingual catalog of 70,000
books in 2008.


= [Overview]

Some authors have enjoyed creating websites, posting their
works and communicating with readers by email. Other authors
have begun searching how using hyperlinks could expand their
writing towards new directions, while linking it to images and
sound. Jean-Paul switched from being a print author to being an
hypermedia author, while enjoying the freedom given by online
(self-)publishing: "The internet allows me to do without
intermediaries such as record companies, publishers and
distributors. Most of all, it allows me to crystallize what I
have in my head: the print medium only allows me to partly do
that. (...) Surfing the web is like radiating in all directions
(I am interested in something and I click on all the links on a
home page) or like jumping around (from one click to another,
as the links appear). You can do this in the written media, of
course. But the difference is striking. So the internet changed
how I write. You don't write the same way for a website as you
do for a script or a play."

= The internet as a research tool

Murray Suid is a writer of educational books and material
living in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has
also written books for kids, multimedia scripts and
screenplays. How did using the internet change his professional
life? He wrote in September 1998: "The internet has become my
major research tool, largely - but not entirely - replacing the
traditional library and even replacing person-to-person
research. Now, instead of phoning people or interviewing them
face to face, I do it via email. Because of speed, it has also
enabled me to collaborate with people at a distance,
particularly on screenplays. (I've worked with two producers in
Germany.) Also, digital correspondence is so easy to store and
organize, I find that I have easy access to information
exchanged this way. Thus, emailing facilitates keeping track of
ideas and materials. The internet has increased my
correspondence dramatically. Like most people, I find that
email works better than snail mail. My geographic range of
correspondents has also increased - extending mainly to Europe.
In the old days, I hardly ever did transatlantic penpalling. I
also find that emailing is so easy, I am able to find more time
to assist other writers with their work - a kind of a virtual
writing group. This isn't merely altruistic. I gain a lot when
I give feedback. But before the internet, doing so was more of
an effort."

Murray was among the first authors to add a website to his
books - an opportunity that many would soon adopt: "If a book
can be web-extended (living partly in cyberspace), then an
author can easily update and correct it, whereas otherwise the
author would have to wait a long time for the next edition, if
indeed a next edition ever came out. (...) I do not know if I
will publish books on the web - as opposed to publishing paper
books. Probably that will happen when books become multimedia.
(I currently am helping develop multimedia learning materials,
and it is a form of teaching that I like a lot - blending text,
movies, audio, graphics, and - when possible - interactivity)."

He added in August 1999: "In addition to 'web-extending' books,
we are now web-extending our multimedia (CD-ROM) products - to
update and enrich them."

In October 2000, "our company - EDVantage Software - has become
an internet company instead of a multimedia (CD-ROM) company.
We deliver educational material online to students and

= The internet as a novel "character"

Alain Bron lives in Paris, France. He is a consultant in
information systems and a writer. The internet is one of the
"characters" of his second novel, "Sanguine sur toile"
(Sanguine on the web), available in print from Editions du
Choucas in 1999, and in PDF format from Editions 00h00 in 2000.

Alain wrote in November 1999: "In French, 'toile' means the web
as well as the canvas of a painting, and 'sanguine' is the red
chalk of a drawing as well as one of the adjectives derived
from blood ('sang' in French). But would a love of colors
justify a murder? 'Sanguine sur toile' is the strange story of
an internet surfer caught up in an upheaval inside his own
computer, which is being remotely operated by a very mysterious
person whose only aim is revenge. I wanted to take the reader
into the worlds of painting and enterprise, which intermingle,
escaping and meeting up again in the dazzle of software. The
reader is invited to try to untangle for himself the threads
twisted by passion alone. To penetrate the mystery, he will
have to answer many questions. Even with the world at his
fingertips, isn't the internet surfer the loneliest person in
the world? In view of the competition, what is the greatest
degree of violence possible in an enterprise these days? Does
painting tend to reflect the world or does it create another
one? I also wanted to show that images are not that peaceful.
You can use them to take action, even to kill."

What part does the internet play in his novel? "The internet is
a character in itself. Instead of being described in its
technical complexity, it is depicted as a character that can be
either threatening, kind or amusing. Remember the computer
screen has a dual role - displaying as well as concealing. This
ambivalence is the theme throughout. In such a game, the big
winner is of course the one who knows how to free himself from
the machine's grip and put humanism and intelligence before
everything else."

= The web and its hyperlinks

Like many artists, Jean-Paul began searching how hyperlinks
could expand his writing towards new directions. He switched
from being a print author to being an hypermedia author, and
created "Cotres furtifs" (Furtive Cutters) as a website
"telling stories in 3D". He enjoyed the freedom given by online
(self-)publishing, and wrote in August 1999: "The internet
allows me to do without intermediaries, such as record
companies, publishers and distributors. Most of all, it allows
me to crystallize what I have in my head: the print medium
(desktop publishing, in fact) only allows me to partly do

He also insisted on the growing interaction between digital
literature and technology. "The future of cyber-literature,
techno-literature, digital literature or whatever you want to
call it, is set by the technology itself. It is now impossible
for an author to handle all by himself the words and their
movement and sound. A decade ago, you could know well each of
Director, Photoshop or Cubase (to cite just the better known
software), using the first version of each. That is not
possible any more. Now we have to know how to delegate, find
more solid financial partners than Gallimard, and look in the
direction of Hachette-Matra, Warner, the Pentagon and
Hollywood. At best, the status of multimedia director (?) will
be the one of video director, film director, manager of the
product. He is the one who receives the golden palms at Cannes,
but who would never have been able to earn them just on his
own. As twin sister (not a clone) of the cinematograph, cyber-
literature (video + the link) will be an industry, with a few
isolated craftsmen on the outer edge (and therefore with below-
zero copyright)."

Jean-Paul added in June 2004: "Surfing the web is like
radiating in all directions (I am interested in something and I
click on all the links on a home page) or like jumping around
(from one click to another, as the links appear). You can do
this in the written media, of course. But the difference is
striking. So the internet changed how I write. You don't write
the same way for a website as you do for a script or a play.

In fact, it is not the internet which changed how I write, it
is the first Mac that I discovered through the self-learning of
HyperCard. I still remember how astonished I was during the
month when I was learning about buttons, links, surfing by
analogies, objects or images. The idea that a simple click on
one area of the screen allowed me to open a range of piles of
cards, and each card could offer new buttons and each button
opened on to a new range, etc. In brief, the learning of
everything on the web that today seems really banal, for me it
was a revelation (it seems Steve Jobs and his team had the same
shock when they discovered the ancestor of the Mac in the
laboratories of Rank Xerox). Since then I write directly on the
screen: I use the print medium only occasionally, to fix up a
text, or to give somebody who is allergic to the screen a kind
of photograph, something instantaneous, something approximate.
It is only an approximation, because print forces us to have a
linear relationship: the text is developing page after page
(most of the time), whereas the technique of links allows
another relationship to the time and space of imagination. And,
for me, it is above all the opportunity to put into practice
this reading/writing 'cycle', whereas leafing through a book
gives only an idea - which is vague because the book is not
conceived for that."


= [Overview]

The beta version of Google Print went live in May 2005. In
October 2004, Google launched the first part of Google Print as
a project aimed at publishers, for internet users to be able to
see excerpts from their books and order them online. In
December 2004, Google launched the second part of Google Print
as a project intended for libraries, to build up a world
digital library by digitizing the collections of main partner
libraries. In August 2005, Google Print was stopped until
further notice because of lawsuits filed by associations of
authors and publishers for copyright infringement. The program
resumed in August 2006 under the new name of Google Books.
Google Books has offered books digitized in the participating
libraries (Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Oxford, California,
Virginia, Wisconsin-Madison, Complutense of Madrid and New York
Public Library), with either the full text for public domain
books or excerpts for copyrighted books. Google settled a
lawsuit with associations of authors and publishers in October
2008, with an agreement to be signed in 2009.

= Google Print

In October 2004, Google launched the first part of Google Print
as a project aimed at publishers, for internet users to be able
to see excerpts from their books and order them online. In
December 2004, Google launched the second part of Google Print
as a project intended for libraries, to build up a digital
library of 15 million books by digitizing the collections of
main partner libraries, beginning with the universities of
Michigan (7 million books), Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, and
the New York Public Library. The planned cost in 2004 was an
average of US $10 per book, and a total budget of $150 to $200
million for ten years. The beta version of Google Print went
live in May 2005. In August 2005, Google Print was stopped
until further notice because of lawsuits filed by associations
of authors and publishers for copyright infringement.

= Google Books

The program resumed in August 2006 under the new name of Google
Books. Google Books has offered excerpts from books digitized
by Google in the participating libraries - that now included
Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Oxford, California, Virginia,
Wisconsin-Madison, Complutense of Madrid and New York Public
Library. Google Books provided the full text for public domain
books and excerpts for copyrighted books. According to some
media buzz, Google was scanning 3,000 books a day.

The inclusion of copyrighted works in Google Books was widely
criticized by authors and publishers worldwide. In the U.S.,
lawsuits were filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of
American Publishers (AAP) for alleged copyright infringement.
The assumption was that the full scanning and digitizing of
copyrighted books infringed copyright laws, even if only
snippets were made freely available. Google replied this was
"fair use", referring to short excerpts from copyrighted books
that could be lawfully quoted in another book or website, as
long as the source (author, title, publisher) was mentioned.
After three years of conflict, Google reached a settlement with
the associations of authors and publishers in October 2008,
with an agreement to be signed in 2009.

As of December 2008, Google had 24 library partners, including
a Swiss one (University Library of Lausanne), a French one
(Lyon Municipal Library), a Belgian one (Ghent University
Library), a German one (Bavarian State Library), two Spanish
ones (National Library of Catalonia and University Complutense
of Madrid) and a Japanese one (Keio University Library). The
U.S. partner libraries were, by alphabetical order: Columbia
University, Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC),
Cornell University Library, Harvard University, New York Public
Library, Oxford University, Princeton University, Stanford
University, University of California, University of Michigan,
University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia and
University of Wisconsin-Madison.


= [Overview]

Conceived by the Internet Archive to offer a universal public
digital library, the Open Content Alliance (OCA) was launched
in October 2005 as a group of cultural, technology, non profit
and governmental organizations willing to build a permanent
archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content.
The project took off in 2006, with the digitization of public
domain books around the world. Unlike Google Books, the Open
Content Alliance (OCA) has made them searchable through any web
search engine, and has not scanned copyrighted books, except
when the copyright holder has expressly given permission. The
first contributors to OCA were the University of California,
the University of Toronto, the European Archive, the National
Archives in United Kingdom, O’Reilly Media and the Prelinger
Archives. The digitized collections are freely available in the
Text Archive section of the Internet Archive. In December 2008,
one million ebooks were posted under OCA principles by the
Internet Archive.

= [In Depth]

The Internet Archive and Yahoo! conceived the Open Content
Alliance (OCA) in early 2005 to offer broad public access to
the world culture. The OCA also wanted to address the issues of
the Google Book project, with its copyright issues and its
availability from one search engine only. The OCA was launched
with the goal of digitizing only public domain books and making
them searchable and downloadable through any search engine.

What exactly is the Internet Archive? Founded in April 1996 by
Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive is a non-profit
organization that has built an "internet library" to offer
permanent access to historical collections in digital format
for researchers, historians and scholars. An archive of the web
is stored every two months or so. In late 1999, the Internet
Archive started to include more collections of archived
webpages on specific topics. It also became an online digital
library of text, audio, software, image and video content. In
October 2001, with 30 billion stored webpages, the Internet
Archive launched the Wayback Machine, for users to be able to
surf the archive of the web by date. In 2004, there were 300
terabytes of data, with a growth of 12 terabytes per month.
There were 65 billion pages (from 50 million websites) in 2006
and 85 million pages in 2008. The Internet Archive now defines
itself as "a nonprofit digital library dedicated to providing
universal access to human knowledge."

In October 2005, the Internet Archive launched the Open Content
Alliance (OCA) with other contributors as a collective effort
for "building a digital archive of global content for universal
access" (subtitle of the OCA home page) that would be a
permanent repository of multilingual text and multimedia

As explained on its website in 2007, the OCA "is a
collaborative effort of a group of cultural, technology,
nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world
that helps build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized
text and multimedia material. An archive of contributed
material is available on the Internet Archive website and
through Yahoo! and other search engines and sites. The OCA
encourages access to and reuse of collections in the archive,
while respecting the content owners and contributors."

The project aims at digitizing public domain books around the
world and make them searchable through any web search engine
and downloadable for free. Unlike Google Books, the OCA scans
and digitizes only public domain books, except when the
copyright holder has expressly given permission. The first
contributors to the OCA were the University of California, the
University of Toronto, the European Archive, the National
Archives in United Kingdom, O’Reilly Media and Prelinger
Archives. The digitized collections are freely available in the
Text Archive section of the Internet Archive. 100,000 ebooks
were publicly available in December 2006 (with 12,000 new
ebooks added per month), 200,000 ebooks in May 2007, and one
million ebooks in December 2008.

Microsoft has been one of the partners of the OCA, while also
developing its own project. The beta version of Live Search
Books was released in December 2006, with a search possible by
keyword for non copyrighted books digitized by Microsoft in
partner libraries. The British Library and the libraries of the
universities of California and Toronto were the first ones to
join in, followed in January 2007 by the New York Public
Library and Cornell University. Books offered full text views
and could be downloaded in PDF files. In May 2007, Microsoft
announced agreements with several publishers, including
Cambridge University Press and McGraw Hill, for their books to
be available in Live Search Books. After digitizing 750,000
books and indexing 80 million journal articles, Microsoft ended
the Live Search Books program in May 2008, to focus on other
activities, and closed the website. These books are available
in the OCA collections of the Internet Archive.

A main issue for digital libraries is the lack of proofreading
of digitized books, that ensures a better accuracy of the text
without any loss from the print version. The only digital
library proofreading its books has been Doctrine Publishing Corporation, with
28,000 high-quality ebooks available in January 2009. Good OCR
(Optical Character Recognition) software run on image files -
obtained from scanning print pages - is said to ensure 99%
accuracy. If the step of the proofreading seems essential to
Doctrine Publishing Corporation, whose goal is to reach a 99.99% accuracy for
its ebooks - above the 99.95% accuracy set up as a standard for
Library of Congress -, this step is skipped by the Internet
Archive, the OCA, Google and many others. Some R&D teams work
on better quality OCR technology, which means that they would
have to go back to the original image files to provide a higher
quality book in the future, if they do want to provide digital
versions without any loss from the print version.


= [Overview]

Amazon.com launched its own reading device, the Kindle, in
November 2007. In the mid-1990s, people read on their desktop
computers before reading on their laptops. The Palm Pilot was
launched in March 1996 as the first PDA, and people began
reading on PDAs. 23 million Palm Pilots were sold between 1996
and 2002. Its main competitors were the Pocket PC (launched by
Microsoft in April 2000) and the PDAs of Hewlett-Packard, Sony,
Handspring, Toshiba and Casio. People also began reading on the
first smartphones launched by Nokia or Sony Ericsson. Some
companies launched dedicated reading devices like the Rocket
eBook, the SoftBook Reader, the Gemstar eBook and the Cybook,
all models that didn't last long. Better reading devices
emerged then, like the Cybook (new version) in 2004, the Sony
Reader in 2006 and the Kindle in 2007. LCD screens were
replaced by screens using the E Ink technology. The next step
should be an ultra-thin flexible display called electronic
paper (epaper), launched in 2001 by E Ink, Plastic Logic and

= First reading devices

How about a book-sized electronic reader that could store many
books at once? From 1998 onwards, some pioneer companies began
working on dedicated reading devices, and launched the Rocket
eBook (created by NuvoMedia), the EveryBook (created by
EveryBook), the SoftBook Reader (created by SoftBook Press),
and the Millennium eBook (created by Librius.com).

The Rocket eBook was launched by NuvoMedia, in Palo Alto,
California, as the first dedicated reading device. Founded in
1997, NuvoMedia wanted to become "the electronic book
distribution solution, by providing a networking infrastructure
for publishers, retailers and end users to publish, distribute,
purchase and read electronic content securely and efficiently
on the internet." Investors of NuvoMedia were Barnes & Noble
and Bertelsmann. The connection between the Rocket eBook and
the computer (PC or Macintosh) was made through the Rocket
eBook Cradle, which provided power through a wall transformer,
and connected to the computer with a serial cable.

EveryBook (EB) was "a living library in a single book". The
EveryBook's electronic storage could hold 100 textbooks or 500
novels. The EveryBook used a "hidden" modem to dial into the
EveryBook Store, for people to browse, purchase and receive
full text books, magazines and sheet music.

SoftBook Press created the SoftBook along with the SoftBook
Network, an internet-based content delivery service. With the
SoftBook, "people could easily, quickly and securely download a
wide selection of books and periodicals using its built-in
internet connection", with a machine that, "unlike a computer,
was ergonomically designed for the reading of long documents
and books." The investors of Softbook Press were Random House
and Simon & Schuster.

Librius was a "full-service ecommerce company" that launched a
small "low-cost" reading device called the Millennium eBook.
The website offered a World Bookstore that delivered digital
copies of thousands of books via the internet.

The Gemstar eBook was launched in October 2000 by Gemstar-TV
Guide International, a company providing digital products and
services for the media. Gemstar first bought Nuvomedia (Rocket
eBook) and SoftBook Press (SoftBook) in January 2000, as well
as the French 00h00.com, a producer of digital books, in
September 2000.  Two Gemstar eBook were available for sale in
the U.S. in November 2000, with a later attempt in Germany to
test the European market. The REB 1100 had a black and white
screen, like the Rocket eBook. The REB 1200 had a color screen,
like the SoftBook Reader. Both were produced by RCA (Thomson
Multimedia).  New and cheaper models were then launched as GEB
1150 and 2150, produced by Gemstar instead of RCA. But the
sales were still far below expectations. The company stopped
selling reading devices in June 2003, and digital books the
following month.

= What people thought of them

In 2000 and 2001, I was interviewing some book professionals
about these new reading devices they were so curious about,
while wondering how a reading device could ever replace a print
book. (As shown in the answers below, people often used the
word "ebook" for an ebook reading device.)

Peter Raggett is the head of the Central Library at the OECD
(Organization for Economic and Cooperation Development). He
wrote in July 2000: "It is interesting to see that the
electronic book mimics the traditional book as much as possible
except that the paper page is replaced by a screen. I can see
that the electronic book will replace some of the present paper
products but not all of them. I also hope that electronic books
will be waterproof so that I can continue reading in the bath."

Henk Slettenhaar is a professor in communication technologies
at Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote in
August 2000: "I have a hard time believing people would want to
read from a screen. I much prefer myself to read and touch a
real book."

Randy Hobler is a consultant in internet marketing living in
Dobbs Ferry, New York. He wrote in September 2000: "eBooks
continue to grow as the display technology improves, and as the
hardware becomes more physically flexible and lighter. Plus,
among the early adapters will be colleges because of the many
advantages for students (ability to download all their reading
for the entire semester, inexpensiveness, linking into exams,
assignments, need for portability, eliminating need to lug
books all over)."

Eduard Hovy is the head of the Natural Language Group at
USC/ISI (University of Southern California / Information
Sciences Institute). He wrote in September 2000: "eBooks, to
me, are a non-starter. More even that seeing a concert live or
a film at a cinema, I like the physical experience holding a
book in my lap and enjoying its smell and feel and heft.
Concerts on TV, films on TV, and ebooks lose some of the
experience; and with books particularly it is a loss I do not
want to accept. After all, it is much easier and cheaper to get
a book in my own purview than a concert or cinema. So I wish
the ebook makers well, but I am happy with paper. And I don't
think I will end up in the minority anytime soon - I am much
less afraid of books vanishing than I once was of cinemas

Tim McKenna is an author who thinks and writes about the
complexity of truth in a world of flux. He wrote in October
2000: "I don't think that they have the right appeal for lovers
of books. The internet is great for information. Books are not
information. People who love books have a relationship with
their books. They re-read them, write in them, confer with
them. Just as cybersex will never replace the love of a woman,
ebooks will never be a vehicle for beautiful prose."

Steven Krauwer is the coordinator of ELSNET (European Network
of Excellence in Human Language Technologies). He wrote in June
2001 that "ebooks still had a long way to go before reading
from a screen feels as comfortable as reading a book."

Guy Antoine is the founder of Windows on Haiti, a reference
website about Haitian culture. He wrote in June 2001: "Sorry, I
haven't tried them yet. Perhaps because of this, it still
appears to me like a very odd concept, something that the
technology made possible, but for which there will not be any
wide usage, except perhaps for classic reference texts. High
school and college textbooks could be a useful application of
the technology, in that there would be much lighter backpacks
to carry. But for the sheer pleasure of reading, I can hardly
imagine getting cozy with a good ebook."

= PDAs

In the 1990s, Jacques Gauchey was a journalist and writer
covering information technology in Silicon Valley. He was also
a "facilitator" between the U.S. and Europe. Jacques was among
the first to buy a Palm Pilot in March 1996, and wrote about it
in his free online newsletter. As a side remark, he remembered
in July 1999: "In 1996 I published a few issues of a free
English newsletter on the internet. It had about ten readers
per issue until the day when the electronic version of Wired
Magazine created a link to it. In one week I got about 100
emails, some from French readers of my book "La vallée du
risque - Silicon Valley" [The Valley of Risk - Silicon Valley,
published by Plon, Paris, in 1990], who were happy to find me
again." He added: "All my clients now are internet companies.
All my working tools (my mobile phone, my PDA and my PC) are or
will soon be linked to the internet."

Palm stayed the leader, despite fierce competition, with 23
million Palm Pilots sold between 1996 and 2002. In 2002, 36.8%
of all PDAs available on the market were Palm Pilots. Its main
competitor was Microsoft's Pocket PC. The main platforms were
Palm OS (for 55% of PDAs) and Pocket PC (for 25,7%). In 2004,
prices began to drop. The leaders were the PDAs of Palm, Sony,
and Hewlett-Packard, followed by Handspring, Toshiba, and

= Phones and reading devices

The first smartphone was Nokia 9210, launched as early as 2001.
It was followed by Nokia Series 60, Sony Ericsson P800, and the
smartphones of Motorola and Siemens. Smartphones took off
quickly. In February 2005, Sony stopped selling PDAs.
Smartphones represented 3,7% of all cellphones sold in 2004,
and 9% of all cellphones sold in 2006, with 90 million
smartphones sold for one billion cellphones.

Many people read ebooks on their PDAs, cellphones and
smartphones. The favorite readers (software) were Mobipocket
Reader (available in March 2000), Microsoft Reader (available
in April 2000), Palm Reader (available in March 2001), Acrobat
Reader (available in May 2001 for Palm Pilot, and in December
2001 for Pocket PC), and Adobe Reader (available in May 2003 to
replace Acrobat Reader).

For cellphones, smartphones and dedicated reading devices, LCD
screens have been replaced by screens using the technology
developed by E Ink. As explained on the company's website:
"Electronic ink is a proprietary material that is processed
into a film for integration into electronic displays. Although
revolutionary in concept, electronic ink is a straightforward
fusion of chemistry, physics and electronics to create this new
material. The principal components of electronic ink are
millions of tiny microcapsules, about the diameter of a human
hair. In one incarnation, each microcapsule contains positively
charged white particles and negatively charged black particles
suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative electric field is
applied, the white particles move to the top of the
microcapsule where they become visible to the user. This makes
the surface appear white at that spot. At the same time, an
opposite electric field pulls the black particles to the bottom
of the microcapsules where they are hidden. By reversing this
process, the black particles appear at the top of the capsule,
which now makes the surface appear dark at that spot. To form
an E Ink electronic display, the ink is printed onto a sheet of
plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry. The
circuitry forms a pattern of pixels that can then be controlled
by a display driver. These microcapsules are suspended in a
liquid 'carrier medium' allowing them to be printed using
existing screen printing processes onto virtually any surface,
including glass, plastic, fabric and even paper. Ultimately
electronic ink will permit most any surface to become a
display, bringing information out of the confines of
traditional devices and into the world around us."

Sony launched its first reading device, Librié 1000-EP, in
Japan in April 2004, in partnership with Philips and E Ink.
Librié was the first reading device to use the E Ink
technology, with a 6-inch screen, a 10 M memory, and a 500-
ebook capacity. eBooks were downloaded from a computer through
a USB port. The Sony Reader was launched in October 2006 in the
U.S. for US $350, followed by cheaper and revamped models.

Amazon.com launched its own reading device, the Kindle, in
November 2007. Before launching the Kindle, Amazon.com bought
in April 2005 Mobipocket, a French company specializing in
ebooks for PDAs, cellphones and smartphones, with a catalog of
several thousands of books in several languages to be read on
the Mobipocket Reader.

The Kindle was launched with a catalog of 80,000 ebooks - and
new releases for US $9,99 each. The built-in memory and 2G SD
card gave plenty of book storage (1.4 G), with a screen using
the E Ink technology, and page-turning buttons. Books were
directly bought and downloaded via the device's 3G wireless
connection, with no need for a computer, unlike the Sony
Reader. 580.000 Kindles were sold in 2008. A thinner and
revamped Kindle 2 was launched in February 2009, with a storage
capacity of 1,500 ebooks, a new text-to-speech feature, and a
catalog of 230,000 ebooks on Amazon.com's website.

Can reading devices like Sony Reader and Kindle really compete
with cellphones and smartphones? Will people prefer reading on
mobile handsets like the iPhone 3G (with its Stanza Reader) or
the T-Mobile G1 (with Google's platform Android and its
reader), or will they prefer using reading devices to get a
larger screen? Or is there a market for both smartphones and
reading devices? These are some fascinating questions for the
next years. I personally dream about a big flat screen on one
of my walls, where I could display my friends' interactive PDFs
and hypermedia stories, when I won't be on a budget anymore. In
the meantime, I enjoy my netbook, including to read ebooks.

The next generation of reading devices - expected for 2010-11 -
should display color and multimedia/hypermedia content with a
revamped E Ink technology.

The company Plastic Logic has become a key player for new
products. As explained on its website: "Technology for plastic
electronics on thin and flexible plastic substrates was
developed at Cambridge University’s renowned Cavendish
Laboratory in the 1990s. In 2000, Plastic Logic was spun out of
Cavendish Laboratory to develop a broad range of products using
the plastic electronics technology. (...) Plastic Logic has
raised over $200M in financing from top-tier venture funding
sources in Asia, Europe and the U.S. We are using the funds to
complete product development in England and the USA, build a
specialized, scalable production facility in Germany, and build
our go-to-market teams." Plastic Logic intends to launch in
2010 a very thin and flexible 10.7' plastic screen, using
proprietary plastic electronics and the E Ink technology.

Reading devices can count on some fierce competition with
smartphones. In February 2009, the 1.5 million public-domain
books available in Google Books - and 500,000 more outside the
U.S. because of variations of copyright law - were accessible
via mobile handsets such as the T-Mobile G1, released in
October 2008 with Google's platform Android and its reader.
Because of the small screens of mobile handsets, the ebooks are
in text format, and not in image format. Android is an open
source mobile device platform (built on Linux), that was
announced in November 2007 along with the creation of the Open
Handset Alliance (OHA). Other leading companies - Motorola,
Lenovo, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, etc. - are working on
smartphones that will run Android in the near future.

= The @folio project

The @folio project is a reading device conceived in October
1996 by Pierre Schweitzer, an architect-designer living in
Strasbourg, France. It is meant to download and read any text
and/or illustrations from the web or hard disk, in any format,
with no proprietary format and no DRM. Unfortunately, to this
day (in August 2009), @folio has stayed a prototype, because of
lack of funding and because of the language barrier - one
article in English for dozens of articles in French.

The technology of @folio is novel and simple, and very
different from other reading devices, past or present. It is
inspired from fax and tab file folders. The flash memory is
"printed" like Gutenberg printed his books. The facsimile mode
is readable as is for any content, from sheet music to
mathematical or chemical formulas, with no conversion
necessary, whether it is handwritten text, calligraphy, free
hand drawing or non-alphabetical writing. All this is difficult
if not impossible on a computer or any existing reading device.

The lightweight prototype is built with high-quality materials.
The screen takes 80% of the total surface and has low power
consumption. It is surrounded by a translucent and flexible
frame that folds to protect the screen when not in use. @folio
could be sold for US $100 for the basic standard version, with
various combinations of screen sizes and flash memory to fit
the specific needs of architects, illustrators, musicians,
specialists in old languages, etc.

Intuitive navigation allows to "turn" pages as easily as in a
print book, to classify and search documents as easily as with
a tab file folder, and to choose preferences for margins,
paragraphs, font selection and character size. No buttons, only
a round trackball adorned with the world map in black and
white. The trackball can be replaced with a long and narrow
tactile pad on either side of the frame.

The flash memory allows the downloading of thousands of
hypertext pages, either previously linked before download or
linked during the downloading process. @folio provides an
instant automatic reformatting of documents, for them to fit
the size of the screen. For "text" files, no software is
necessary. For "image" files, the reformatting software is
called Mot@Mot - Word@Word in French - and could be used with
any other device. This software received much attention from
the French National Library (BnF: Bibliothèque nationale de
France) for a potential use in Gallica, its digital library of
90,000 books, especially for old books (published before 1812)
and illustrated manuscripts.

Since its inception, the @folio project has received a warm
welcome during guest presentations in various book fairs and
symposiums in France and Europe, and a warm welcome from the
French-speaking media - press, radio, television and internet.
An international patent was filed in April 2001. The French
startup iCodex was created in July 2002 to promote, develop and
market @folio. A few years later, there is still a warm
welcome, but yet no funding. In August 2007, the @folio team
began seeking funding worldwide. Pierre's passion for a cheap
and beautiful reading device intended for everybody - and not
just the few - has no boundaries, except some financial ones.


= [Overview]

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the web in 1989-90, wrote in May
1998: "The dream behind the web is of a common information
space in which we communicate by sharing information. Its
universality is essential: the fact that a hypertext link can
point to anything, be it personal, local or global, be it draft
or highly polished. There was a second part of the dream, too,
dependent on the web being so generally used that it became a
realistic mirror (or in fact the primary embodiment) of the
ways in which we work and play and socialize. That was that
once the state of our interactions was on line, we could then
use computers to help us analyse it, make sense of what we are
doing, where we individually fit in, and how we can better work
together" (excerpt from: "The World Wide Web: A Very Short
Personal History", available on the W3C website). Twenty years
after the invention of the web, and ten years after the writing
of this text, Tim Berners-Lee's dream and "second part of the
dream" have begun to become reality with many participative
projects across borders and languages.

= From etexts to ebooks

Michael Hart founded Doctrine Publishing Corporation in 1971. He wrote in
1998: "We consider etext to be a new medium, with no real
relationship to paper, other than presenting the same material,
but I don't see how paper can possibly compete once people each
find their own comfortable way to etexts, especially in

John Mark Ockerbloom created the Online Books Page in 1993. He
wrote in 1998: "I've gotten very interested in the great
potential the net has for making literature available to a wide
audience. (...) I am very excited about the potential of the
internet as a mass communication medium in the coming years.
I'd also like to stay involved, one way or another, in making
books available to a wide audience for free via the net,
whether I make this explicitly part of my professional career,
or whether I just do it as a spare-time volunteer."

Ten years later, Peter Schweitzer, inventor of the @folio
project, the prototype of a reading device, wrote in an email
interview: "The luck we all have is to live here and now this
fantastic change. When I was born in 1963, computers didn't
have much memory. Today, my music player could hold billions of
pages, a true local library. Tomorrow, by the combined effect
of the Moore Law and the ubiquity of networks, we will have
instant access to works and knowledge. We won't be much
interested any more on which device to store information. We
will be interested in handy functions and beautiful objects."

Marc Autret, a journalist and graphic designer, wrote around
the same time: "I am convinced that the ebook (or "e-book") has
a great future in all non-fiction sectors. I refer to the ebook
as  a software and not as a dedicated physical medium (the
conjecture is more uncertain on this point). The [European]
publishers of guides, encyclopedias and informative books in
general still see the ebook as a very minor variation of the
printed book, probably because the business model and secure
management don't seem entirely stabilized. But this is a matter
of time. Non-commercial ebooks are already emerging everywhere
while opening the way to new developments. To my eyes, there
are at least two emerging trends: (a) an increasingly
attractive and functional interface for reading/consultation
(navigation, research, restructuring on the fly, user
annotations, interactive quiz); (b) a multimedia integration
(video, sound, animated graphics, database) now strongly
coupled to the web. No physical book offers such features. So I
imagine the ebook of the future as a kind of wiki crystallized
and packaged in a format. How valuable will it be? Its value
will be the one of a book: the unity and quality of editorial

= Cyberspace and information society

Over the years, I asked people I was interviewing by email how
they would define cyberspace and information society. Here are
a few answers, to open new perspectives that will happily
replace a "conclusion" for this book.

According to Peter Raggett, head of the Central Library at the
OECD (Organization for Economic and Cooperation Development):
"Cyberspace is that area 'out there' which is on the other end
of my PC when I connect to the internet. Any ISP (Internet
Service Provider) or webpage provider is in cyberspace as far
as his users or customers are concerned." And the information
society? "The information society is the society where the most
valued product is information. Up to the 20th century,
manufactured goods were the most valued products. They have
been replaced by information. In fact, people are now talking
of the knowledge society where the most valuable economic
product is the knowledge inside our heads."

Steven Krauwer is the coordinator of ELSNET (European Network
of Excellence in Human Language Technologies). "For me the
cyberspace is the part of the universe (including people,
machines and information) that I can reach from behind my
desk." And the information society? "An information society is
a society: (a) where most of the knowledge and information is
no longer stored in people's brains or books but on electronic
media; (b) where the information repositories are distributed,
interconnected via an information infrastructure, and
accessible from anywhere; (c) where social processes have
become so dependent on this information and the information
infrastructure that citizens who are not connected to this
information system cannot fully participate in the functioning
of the society."

Guy Antoine is the founder of Windows on Haiti, a reference
website about Haitian culture. For him, cyberspace is
"literally the newest frontier for mankind, a place where
everyone can claim his place, and do so with relative ease and
a minimum of financial resources, before heavy
intergovernmental regulations and taxation finally set in. But
then, there will be another."

Henk Slettenhaar is a professor in communication technologies
at Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland. For him,
cyberspace is "our virtual space. The area of digital
information (bits, not atoms). It is a limited space when you
think of the spectrum. It has to be administered well so
all the earth's people can use it and benefit from it
(eliminate the digital divide)." And the information society is
"the people who already use cyberspace in their daily lives to
such an extent that it is hard to imagine living without it
(the other side of the divide)."

Tim McKenna is an author who thinks and writes about the
complexity of truth in a world of flux. "Cyberspace to me is
the distance that is bridged when individuals use technology to
connect, either by sharing information or chatting. To say that
one exists in cyberspace is really to say that he has
eliminated distance as a barrier to connecting with people and
ideas." And the information society? "The information society
to me is the tangible form of Jung's collective consciousness.
Most of the information resides in the subconsciousness but
browsing technology has made the information more retrievable
which in turn allows us greater self-knowledge both as
individuals and as human beings."


[Each line begins with the year or the year/month.]

  1968: ASCII is the first character set encoding.
  1971: Doctrine Publishing Corporation is the first digital library.
  1974: The internet takes off.
  1977: UNIMARC is created as a common bibliographic format for
library catalogs.
  1984: Copyleft is a new license for computer software.
  1990: The web is invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
  1991/01: Unicode is a universal character set encoding for
all languages.
  1993/01: The Online Books Page is a list of free ebooks on
the internet.
  1993/06: Adobe launches PDF, Acrobat Reader and Adobe
  1993/11: Mosaic is the first web browser.
  1994: The first library website goes online.
  1994: Bold publishers post free digital versions of
copyrighted books.
  1995/07: Amazon.com is the first main online bookstore.
  1995: Mainstream print newspapers and magazines launch their
own websites.
  1996/03: The Palm Pilot is launched as the first PDA.
  1996/04: The Internet Archive is founded to archive the web.
  1996: Teachers explore new ways of teaching using the
  1997/01: Multimedia convergence is the topic of a symposium.
  1997/04: E Ink begins developing a technology called
electronic ink.
  1997: Online publishing begins spreading.
  1997: The Logos Dictionary goes online for free.
  1998/05: 00h00.com sells books "only" in digital format.
  1998: Library treasures like Beowulf go online.
  1999/09:  The Open eBook (OeB) format is created as a
standard for ebooks.
  1999/12: Britannica.com is available for free on the web (for
a short time).
  1999: Librarians become webmasters.
  1999: Authors go digital.
  2000/01: The Million Book Project wants to digitize one
million books.
  2000/01: Gemstar TV-Guide International buys the 00h00.com.
  2000/02: yourDictionary.com is a major language portal.
  2000/03: Mobipocket focuses on readers (software) and ebooks
for PDAs.
  2000/07: Non-English-speaking internet users reach 50%.
  2000/07: Stephen King (self-)publishes a novel "only" on the
  2000/08: Microsoft launches its own reader (software) and LIT
  2000/09: GDT is a main bilingual (English, French) free
translation dictionary.
  2000/09: Numilog is an online bookstore selling "only"
digital books.
  2000/09: Handicapzero is a portal for the visually impaired
and blind community.
  2000/10: The Public Library of Science works on free online
  2000/10: Distributed Proofreaders helps in digitizing books
from public domain.
  2000/10: Gemstar TV-Guide International launches the Gemstar
  2000/11: The British Library posts the digitized Bible of
  2001/01: Wikipedia is a main free online cooperative
  2001: Creative Commons works on new ways of respecting
authors' rights.
  2003/09: MIT offers its course materials for free in its
  2004/01: Doctrine Publishing Corporation Europe is launched as a
multilingual project.
  2004/10: Google launches Google Print to rename it Google
Books later on.
  2005/04: Amazon.com buys Mobipocket, its software and ebooks.
  2005/10: The Open Content Alliance works on a universal
public digital library.
  2006/08: Google Books has several partner libraries and
  2006/08: The union catalog WorldCat is available for free on
the web.
  2006/10: Sony launches its new reading device, the Sony
  2006/12: Microsoft launches Live Search Books (and drops the
project later on).
  2007/03: Citizendium works on a main "reliable" online
cooperative encyclopedia.
  2007/03: IATE is the new terminological database of the
European community.
  2007/05: The Encyclopedia of Life will document all known
species of animals and plants.
  2007/11: Amazon.com launches Kindle, its own reading device.
  2008/05: Hachette Livre buys the digital bookstore Numilog.
  2008/10: Google Books settles a lawsuit with associations of
authors and publishers.
  2008/11: Europeana starts as the European digital library.
  2009/02: Amazon.com launches Kindle 2.


Many thanks to all those who kindly answered my questions over
the years. Most interviews were published by NEF (Net des
études françaises / Net of French Studies), University of
Toronto, Canada. They are available online . Some interviews were
directly included in this book.

Many thanks to Nicolas Ancion, Alex Andrachmes, Guy Antoine,
Silvaine Arabo, Arlette Attali, Marc Autret, Isabelle Aveline,
Jean-Pierre Balpe, Emmanuel Barthe, Robert Beard, Michael
Behrens, Michel Benoît, Guy Bertrand, Olivier Bogros, Christian
Boitet, Bernard Boudic, Bakayoko Bourahima, Marie-Aude Bourson,
Lucie de Boutiny, Anne-Cécile Brandenbourger, Alain Bron,
Patrice Cailleaud, Tyler Chambers, Pascal Chartier, Richard
Chotin, Alain Clavet, Jean-Pierre Cloutier, Jacques Coubard,
Luc Dall’Armellina, Kushal Dave, Cynthia Delisle, Emilie
Devriendt, Bruno Didier, Catherine Domain, Helen Dry, Bill
Dunlap, Pierre-Noël Favennec, Gérard Fourestier, Pierre
François Gagnon, Olivier Gainon, Jacques Gauchey, Raymond
Godefroy, Muriel Goiran, Marcel Grangier, Barbara Grimes,
Michael Hart, Roberto Hernández Montoya, Randy Hobler, Eduard
Hovy, Christiane Jadelot, Gérard Jean-François, Jean-Paul,
Anne-Bénédicte Joly, Brian King, Geoffrey Kingscott, Steven
Krauwer, Gaëlle Lacaze, Michel Landaret, Hélène Larroche,
Pierre Le Loarer, Claire Le Parco, Annie Le Saux, Fabrice
Lhomme, Philippe Loubière, Pierre Magnenat, Xavier Malbreil,
Alain Marchiset, Maria Victoria Marinetti, Michael Martin, Tim
McKenna, Emmanuel Ménard, Yoshi Mikami, Jacky Minier, Jean-
Philippe Mouton, Greg Newby, John Mark Ockerbloom, Caoimhín Ó
Donnaíle, Jacques Pataillot, Alain Patez, Nicolas Pewny, Marie-
Joseph Pierre, Hervé Ponsot, Olivier Pujol, Anissa Rachef,
Peter Raggett, Patrick Rebollar, Philippe Renaut, Jean-Baptiste
Rey, Philippe Rivière, Blaise Rosnay, Bruno de Sa Moreira,
Pierre Schweitzer, Henk Slettenhaar, Murray Suid, June
Thompson, Zina Tucsnak, François Vadrot, Christian Vandendorpe,
Robert Ware, Russon Wooldridge, and Denis Zwirn.

Many thanks to Greg Chamberlain, Laurie Chamberlain, Kimberly
Chung, Mike Cook, Michael Hart and Russon Wooldridge for
revising previous versions of some parts. The author, whose
mother tongue is French, is responsible for any remaining

Copyright © 2009 Marie Lebert. All rights reserved.

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