In recent years computer technology has revolutionized book production and the printing and distribution of comparatively inexpensive softcover books, or paperbacks, has expanded. Since the late 20th cent. the standing of the book as an information source has been challenged by other media including television, computers, and on-line databases. In addition, the very definition of a book as a collection of printed sheets of paper is being challenged as books recorded on audio tape and digital disks have become increasingly common and electronic book readers—small computers designed to display pages of digital books (e-books) on their screens as well as software that functions similarly on less specialized electronic devices—have been introduced.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.