The e-reader is not the first challenge to the traditional concept of a book. In 1841 Bernard Tauchnitz of Leipzig published the first paperback in a projected series he called ‘Collection of British Authors’. Coming on the heels of the first cloth-bound book in 1822, his series would include such notables as Dickens, Scott & George Eliot.
Intended for British and American tourists traveling on the continent via the growing rail network, one of the terms on Tauchnitz’s contract was that purchasers would not bring the books back into an English speaking country, thus creating the idea of the disposable book.
His scrupulously drafted agreements between author and publisher foreshadowed modern international copyright. Tauchnitz died in 1895 but his series was continued by his heirs until 1933 having published 5,097 titles by 525 authors.