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An electronic book (e-book) is a digital publication that can consist of text, images or a combination of both. An electronic book can be read on a proprietary digital device (an e-reader) or on a computer, which requires special software.
E-books originated mostly as technical product manuals, but today, the format covers most publishing formats. Some authors rejected by traditional publishers may electronically self-publish their work, due to low production costs. Major publishing companies also offer e-books as an alternative to hard copy publications.
Some e-books use a proprietary format, such as those designed for Amazon's Kindle tablet. The alternative is an open format, like Adobe's PDF, which is compatible with most e-readers.