Monday, August 17, 2009

Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Mobile Devices and Academic Libraries-Part 2

In Part 1 of this post I answered questions and gave my perspective as a an academic librarian who has been following ebook developments. In this post I'll highlight some fun technologies which may further influence these markets.

In the Wired Magazine post, "Clive Thompson on the Future of Reading in a Digital World," the author states "We need to stop thinking about the future of publishing and think instead about the future of reading."

This NPR broadcast with transcript and podcast "Chat While Reading: The Future of Books?" includes a link to Book Glutton (in beta, good concept and has potential for higher education).

Personally, I'm waiting and expecting a lot from new devices being released this year. Basically, I want a reader that is an "everything device." I would be satisfied for now with any of the devices in the Editis video below :)

Descrption: The french publishing group Editis's short fictional video is about the likely future of books. This video does not represent Editis's digital strategy regarding the epublishing market. However, it does hope to open discussions on the different economic models and the functionalities of future ebook readers. Filmed in 2007, this is the latest version with english subtitles. (Note: the first minute is blank and has been reported.).

Link to YouTube version

Another technology which could have a significant effect on books, ebooks and ubiquitous information access is Augmented Reality (AR). AR has been around since the mid 70s but only recently began seeing mainstream adoption mainly due to mobile devices as shared in a prior post with videos.

Link to YouTube version

I'm excited over what new technologies we'll see next. I'm ready to hear the full story on the rumored new Apple Tablet/Touch/iPad/? device due to be announced soon. I'm hopeful it will include a very nice built in ebook reader or else a wonderful app with which I can view my ebooks along with full computer functions and remember the etextbooks too.

Lastly, academic librarians are acutely aware of how quickly technology is changing and the effect that has on information access. It's difficult to predict how things will evolve. I'm adding a couple of links below to movements I'm following and believe could impact future information access directions.

Perhaps someday a mobile device won't be important: Article on MIT's Sixth Sense and on TED

The Living Book: The book written entirely in QR codes

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Mobile Devices and Academic Libraries-Part 1

Librarians at my university have been closely following developments related to the ebook industry, ebook readers and mobile devices in higher education. The library director and I were recently conversing on this topic via email and the bolded questions below were posed. Discussions on this topic are being held in academic libraries around the globe. My responses to the questions (my best guess, really) are posted here to share with colleagues and others in academic libraries who may want to join in the discussion. Comments welcome.

Will our constituents "soon" be willing to read many of their books on MOBILE DEVICES (meaning cell phones & smartphones)?

I do NOT think reading ebooks on small cell phone devices (non-smartphone type) will have a large following amongst our constituents (and not for most of us in this country, though I understand it's quite popular in Japan and some other countries). Smartphones, on the other hand, (iPhones, Palm Pre, Blackberry, Android devices, etc.) are another story.

I believe that young people (undergraduate students) WILL soon be willing to read many books on quality smartphone devices. For many undergrads there is a compelling convenience factor. Students are mobile and most always have their smartphone device with them. During a spare moment they can easily fit in some reading. However, I also think reading on a larger computer or reader device and print reading will continue as well for some time for all age groups. Older graduate students and faculty, I suspect, would be less willing to read many of their books on current smartphone devices.

Many baby boomers, like myself, might choose to read ebooks occasionally on their current smartphone devices. For example, I have downloaded a couple of ebooks (using stanza and the kindle iPhone app) so that if I'm ever stuck somewhere and have to wait for whatever reason I can pull out my iPhone and read a chapter of an ebook. I don't do this often and instead usually choose to read a NYTimes article on my NYTimes iPhone app. I would never choose to pull out my current iPhone to read an ebook if I was home and had access to a larger device for reading or my laptop (simply too hard on aging eyes).

Will our constituents "soon" be reading most of their books on any electronic device (in this I include Kindle, the new Mac netbook, etc., etc.)?

That depends on what is meant by "soon." If it means within the next 12 months, I would guess that our constituents will NOT be reading "most" (but possibly many) of their books on an electronic device. And I also doubt "most" academic books will be available in electronic format within the next 12 months (that partly depends on publishers and effective cost models, etc. and it's complicated as this article explains).

My guess would be that within two-three years many, and possibly the majority, of undergrads, grads and faculty will be reading most of their academic books (textbooks and monographs) on an electronic device of some kind (it really depends on how quickly some of the technology is brought to market and the availability of academic books in ebook format).

One of our grad student recently shared with me that in her undergraduate program at another university, which she finished almost a year ago, all of her textbooks were provided for each class in electronic format. Students in her program were required to pay a flat $75 book fee for each class in which they enrolled and the books were delivered electronically. That practice, if widely adopted, could significantly propel ebook use forward.

Will our constituents still prefer reading books in print (paper) format but likely will accept/prefer books on demand (printed from electronic)?

I think there will be a continued demand for print books (how much that will decrease due to ebooks, I'm not sure). I'm not very familiar with books on demand, and may not know enough to really answer this properly. I looked into books on demand/print on demand while working for one year at a public library a few years ago. I recently took a quick look at more recent information on this topic. NPR has a good broadcast available (transcript and podcast) titled "Company's 'ATM For Books' Prints On Demand."

The company, On Demand Books, makes a remarkable claim on their site. I've also read many articles and posts regarding ebooks and the coming revolution. Time will tell, but for academic books it seems ebooks make more sense (easier to search, annotate, hyperlinks in some cases, etc.). The makers of the Espresso book machines point out that print is still widely more popular than electronic and of course that is true at the moment. However, I believe that could and is rapidly changing (even with the industry challenges).

Will most academic books (even copyrighted) really be available as a download either free or at a very low cost (5 to 10 dollars each) "soon?"

I don't know this answer. Although if "soon" means within the next 12 months my guess would be, no. I think if things continue to move forward as they have in the last year, and effective cost models are brokered (which I believe will happen but, again, timing is difficult), that we will then see most academic books available electronically. (I don't know enough about free or low cost academic ebooks to comment on price.)

How will any or all of the above impact us as a library, and our collection development?

Heh, the answer to that question is a book of its own (or maybe a giant collaborative wiki :) ). I don't think any one person or organization has the answers at this time. Things are evolving and we will have to wait and see what happens with digitization projects, what types of devices hit the market within the next 12 months, what develops related to copyright and DRM, what other new technologies develop, and so much more. I am glad these questions are being asked by academic libraries globally. Many organizations are taking serious steps to discuss and debate the future of libraries as I shared in my prior post "Libraries of the Future" (see video)

I believe ebooks will become an increasingly important part of academic library collections. From a 2008 Springer survey:
eBooks are particularly effective when doing research because they are "convenient, easily accessible" and they offer "enhanced functions" when compared with traditional printed literature. In addition to the fact that no storage space is required, the eBook (because it is electronic) it is easily searchable and for research this fact is key.

Part 2 will include videos of current and future technologies that could add to the appeal of ebooks in academic libraries.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Libraries of the Future-Debate, Discussions, Podcasts, Videos & More

"'Libraries of the Future' is all about debate and involvement, and JISC invites you to take part - both online and in person – in events and debates, to read and respond to publications, podcasts, sponsored supplements, and much more."

The Libraries of the Future site is a wonderful resource, one that librarians and administrators in the USA can harvest to learn and help spur discussions as we, too, work to understand the changing needs of our students, faculty and staff.

It's an exciting time to be an academic librarian. I'm not sure what the academic library will look like 10 years from now but I'm optimistic. The technologies that challenge us will also continue to help us to connect and grow in new ways.

In April I had the privilege to attend the Library of the Future Debate as it was streamed live into Second Life (SL), (which enabled me to participate and view with others from around the globe) from Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Oxford University, Oxford.

The Libraries of the Future short documentary was recently released and "showcases interviews with leaders from JISC, Oxford University and LSE as well as students and academics who discuss what the library of the future will look like."

The Libraries of the Future publication below "explores the issues surrounding Libraries of the Future, showcases the events and activities of the campaign and looks forward to some possible solutions."

JISC - Libraries of the Future

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First and Second Life Presentation for Guangdong University of Foreign Studies Delegation

Tomorrow morning I present before a delegation of 25 administrators from The Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China. My presentation is on our experience with teaching and learning in Second Life (SL) and is being hosted by The George Fox University (GFU) School of Education.

The presentation will take place in real life and part of the session will involve a live demo/tour in Second Life. I plan to use flickr slideshows of the work we've done with graduate education students. I also plan to meet inworld (inside SL) with Scot Headley, GFU Professor of Education, with whom I've been collaborating over the last year (as reference librarian and adjunct instructor for GFU). We'll take a tour of our university skydeck, Karuna Island and Resource Center, The Monash University China Incountry program, and the 3J Chinese Language School.

 I'll also share about my new grant funded position as the Karuna Island Consumer Health Librarian. The Karuna Resource Center (RC), which I've posted about on posterous. The RC is a place where I've carefully chosen information resources that meet the outcomes of the National Library of Medicine grant that funds my work. The Karuna RC is a good example of one of the main affordances of virtual worlds (VW), which is the many informal learning opportunities.

Here is a link to a Guangdong University news article on the first visit from the GFU delegation to Guangdong University in 2007.  "On April 16, a delegation of George Fox University (GFU) of the USA led by President David Brandt paid a visit to our university for discussions on exchange and cooperation programs." Since that time there have been further exchanges with the new GFU president, Dean of the School of Education, School of Management, etc.

This is the first time GFU is hosting the delegation from Guangdong University. I'm hopeful exchange programs and the relationship between our universities will continue to develop. There is much we can learn from other cultures and I'm glad to be a part.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from robinashford's posterous