Reading ebooks before it was cool

Reading ebooks before it was cool – a design by Piotr Kowalczyk

Ebooks are now an inseparable part of the reading experience, together with print books, audiobooks, and enhanced books of all kinds.

It was not always like that. For a long time, many book lovers were afraid that ebooks would replace print books.

Do you remember when you started reading a first ebook? What was your first reading machine? Was it an e-reader, a Kindle, which generation? Was it a tablet, and which model? Or maybe you started reading on your cell phone?

I have a clear and bright memory of this. I bought my first iPhone in September 2008. It took me a while to discover that thousands of books from the public domain were available for free, and the only thing to do was to download them to a reading app – from within this very same reading app.

The first book reading apps I downloaded to my iPhone were BookShelfLT and Eucalyptus. I used a built-in catalog in one of them to download three ebooks from Feedbooks.

I remember them well: Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The War of the Worlds by Herbert George Wells, and I, Robot by Cory Doctorow.

I briefly opened the Sherlock Holmes ebook, but it’s the Doctorow’s book that I started reading. It was in the evening, on a rainy spring day in 2009.

Back in the late 2000s, reading ebooks on a cell phone was definitely not cool. “The text is too small,” they were saying.

Having a dedicated e-reading device, a Kindle or Sony, was a different story. It was something people were appreciating, or at least curious about.

15 years in the history of ebooks is like ages. And it evokes nostalgia. It’s something that’s worth documenting.

That’s why I’ve designed a retro style artwork saying “I’ve been using reading machines before it was cool”. It’s available on Redbubble and Zazzle, and shows an engraved illustration of the Holloway & Co. reading stand from 1892, put inside a shape of an electronic device.

Did you start reading ebooks before it was cool?

Using reading machines before it was cool – available on Zazzle

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