Random House v. Rosetta Books, LLC
The first e-ink reader, the Sony Librie.
eBooks are still relatively new in the publishing world. There are a wide variety of ebook formats, including plain text (.txt), HTML, .pdf and rich text files. These files can be read on any computer, smartphone, or tablet. However, the EPub open Ebook format and Amazon's Kindle format have emerged as the most popular way to distribute ebooks.
The future of ebooks was not always certain. Several early eReader manufacturers closed and major retailers like Barnes & Noble briefly stopped selling them (before getting into the business themselves). Stephen King tried releasing a new work entitled The Plant as an eBook, but he stopped after most downloaders never paid for their copies.
However, we now know that ebooks are here to stay. Many works in the public domain are available for download at no cost. Furthermore, advances in electronic ink may one day allow electronic displays to be as small and flexible as newspaper. Today, some of the most popular eReaders use eInk technology because it is more comfortable for extended reading than a screen, although many people simply choose to read ebooks on their smartphones or tablets.
Disputes over eBook sales and royalties are still in the news, as exemplified by Amazon's recent feud with Hachette.