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All this talk about eBooks, but, really, what the hell is an eBook? The Oxford Companion to the Book, perhaps the quintessential reference book for our times (it’s everything you ever wanted to know about the history and culture of books), which was published in January, takes a rather thorough stab at an answer, and The Wall Street Journal excerpted that answer in full.

The excerpt includes everything from the earliest inklings of the possibility that print books might be digitized through CD-Roms (‘member those) up through Project Gutenberg, stopping a bit short of where we are now.

Oddly, perhaps, The Oxford Companion to the Book is not available in eBook format, and carries a hefty $275 list price. So read the free excerpt…