What is the Definition of E-Book?

Acronyms Technology

According to abbreviationfinder, the abbreviation “E-Book” stands for “electronic book”. E-books are the digital equivalent of the classic book. They should reproduce the appearance and properties of a book as realistically as possible on a screen. In addition, e-books also have the typical computer features, such as operation using a mouse, touchpad or keyboard.

  • A reader is required to read an e-book.
  • Often with the device you also decide where you can buy your e-books later.
  • Sales in the book market have declined by more than five percent in recent years.

E-book vs. analog book

But no matter how closely the e-book is based on the “real” book, the qualities of a book, for example the type of binding, the thickness of the paper, the printing technology used – all of these haptic properties can never be added to an e-book . Thus, an e-book cannot replace a real book, but should rather be understood as an independent medium that merely carries on its role model – the “real book” – into the digital age.

E-readers: The readers for e-books

Of course, you first need a reader to read e-books. These are so-called e-readers or e-book readers. You can store thousands of books without taking up bookshelf space. Thanks to the use of so-called e-ink technology, the portable devices have razor-sharp writing and can therefore be read even in bright sunlight. Their image and contrast comes closest to a paper page and they offer much more reading comfort than a tablet PC, for example. In addition, they consume very little electricity in comparison. Although e-books can also be read on a notebook or PC, they are less mobile and flexible.

But be careful: With the device, you often decide where you can buy your e-books later, because many providers only allow their own reading devices. Currently, the largest offer can be found on Amazon and Apple’s iTunes. In general, e-books are cheaper than paperbacks: While new printed publications cost around 20 euros on average, the price of e-books continues to decline. In 2019, the average price per title was less than seven euros.

From niche to competitor product

The triumphant advance of electronic books began in Germany in 2009 with the introduction of the first Kindle model from Amazon. In the meantime, the average price per device has dropped to less than 100 euros and is still falling.

According to GfK Entertainment, the number of buyers of e-books increased rapidly, especially in the years from 2010 to 2013: in the period mentioned, it almost quintupled. In the following years it also rose, albeit not to the same extent. According to various studies, the majority of consumers still prefer printed copies – but the niche product it once was has long ceased to be the electronic book.

While sales in the book market have declined continuously over the past five years – by around five percent during this period – reading behavior has barely changed. Almost 75 percent of Germans state that they read regularly. Around a third of you also use the electronic counterpart. The share of sales of e-books in the German book market is still below five percent. Although more than 27 million electronic copies are sold annually, the falling average price for e-books puts the annual turnover into perspective.



The term “digital signature” describes a cryptographic process for signing electronic documents. In this way, electronic signatures can be generated, which represent the counterpart to the handwritten signature. They are used to uniquely identify the author of electronic documents or messages. The use of digital signature procedures and the validity of electronic signatures are regulated by law in Germany.

  • The term “digital signature” describes the various cryptographic methods for generating electronic signatures.
  • Signing a message or document and encryption are not the same thing.
  • A distinction is made between simple, advanced and qualified electronic signatures.

Difference between digital and electronic

The terms “digital signature” and “electronic signature” are often used synonymously. However, that is not entirely true. The term “digital signature” is purely mathematical. It describes the various cryptographic methods for generating electronic signatures. “Electronic signature” is a legal term that encompasses various methods for authentication and securing the integrity of electronic documents. The digital signature is based on an encryption process that guarantees the security of the electronic signature in accordance with legal requirements.

One of the best-known digital signature processes is RSA, named after its inventors Rivest, Shamir and Adleman. The cryptographic process was developed in 1977 and, in addition to generating digital signatures, can also be used to encrypt entire messages. The Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) program, which is also used for signing and encrypting data, is also widespread. Both procedures are based on the “public key” principle: They use a key pair consisting of a private and a public key.

Encryption provides additional protection

Signing a message or document and encryption are not the same thing. When you sign a message, you provide a kind of personal seal that identifies you as the sender and prevents subsequent falsification of the data. But: The digital signature does not protect your document from unauthorized viewing – a handwritten signature on a paper document does not protect against third-party viewing either. To do this, you must also encrypt the document.

Signature Act and Signature Ordinance

In Germany, the civil code as well as a special signature law and the signature ordinance regulate the general conditions for the use of electronic signatures. A distinction is made between simple, advanced and qualified electronic signatures. Every year the Federal Network Agency publishes a list of minimum requirements for cryptographic algorithms for generating qualified electronic signatures.

The simple electronic signature does not meet any special security requirements, nor is it necessarily based on a digital signature process. Above all, it cannot be clearly assigned to a person, so it is only suitable for informal contracts. The advanced electronic signature, on the other hand, is much more secure. It is generated with a unique signature key and can therefore only be assigned to the signature key holder.

The qualified electronic signature behaves like the advanced one, but it is generated with a secure signature creation unit (for example with the chip of a chip card). At the same time, a qualified certificate is issued to the document by a certification service provider (trust center) at the time it is created. This method ensures that no third party can access the personal key.