following information could not be included in this article for space reasons
and is therefore presented here for the use of our readers.]
and Keeping Current
Because the e-books
field tends to be marked by rapid changes, keeping current with the events
and the literature can be difficult. Fortunately, some excellent review
articles have recently appeared, and there are some excellent newsletters
that help. These resources are described below.
“Will E-books Change the World?” First Monday, Vol. 6, Issue 10, October
1, 2001. [http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_10/hillesund/index.html]
a good analysis and review of the book publishing industry and the issues
facing it. He states, “E-books are the books of the network society” and
then goes on to discuss their history and technology. He feels that e-books
evolved naturally, their development resulted from social and economic
issues rather than “ingenious ideas,” and “e-books are a social necessity.”
Interestingly, he rejects text files, such as Project Gutenberg, as true
e-books and regards them as only a starting point. Although he includes
PDF files in his definition of e-books (barely), he feels that XML is the
preferred e-book distribution platform.
Hillesund is correct
in stating that e-books will not replace printed books and that their major
detractors are the poor quality and high prices of reading devices, plus
all of the issues surrounding digital rights management. He regards e-books
as a delivery platform that will “bring the book industry into the new
network-based digital and global economy." In answering the question he
posed, “Will e-books change the world?” Hillesund is cautious, concluding
his article with the statement:
“Before I start
to speculate on the ways in which e-books could change the world, it might
be a good idea to wait and see how—or rather if—the diffusion of e-books
“E-Books and New Library Service Models: An Analysis of the Impact of E-Book
Technology on Academic Libraries”, Information Technology and Libraries,
Vol. 20, Issue 2, June 2001, pp. 104-113.
Jantz, an academic
librarian, focuses exclusively on academic libraries and the effects that
e-books are having on them. He has a negative view of e-books, remarking,
“The e-book is a technological discontinuity for the library." He provides
a good summary of several of the market players, but feels that there is
no compelling reason for users to buy an e-book. Even though the student
market has been identified as one in which e-books have a good chance of
success, Jantz makes the important point that the current devices have
not yet matured, and any device that students purchase must be capable
of accessing content from many publishers and in many formats. He notes
that students will much prefer to use their PCs rather than purchase an
additional reading device.
“The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World," First
Monday, June 2001. [http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_6/lynch/index.html]
is a classic and cannot be recommended highly enough. If you are able to
read only one article on e-books, this is the one to select. Although long,
it covers the book publishing industry in detail and delves into most of
the relevant issues. Lynch considers the results of simply repurposing
existing printed books, the need to add value to the reading experience
and how books could be redesigned to do so, and rights management and control
issues. He also compares and contrasts book publishing with related industries
such as music and video, and discusses the entire value chain of the book
industry. He then examines e-book readers, which he views as “backward,"
and presents some of the issues surrounding the use of e-books on reading
devices by consumers. Finally, he moves into library issues, preservation,
and concludes with some predictions on the future of the book, and e-books
in particular. Lynch feels that e-books have serious problems, particularly
in the area of rights management. Publishers need to allow users to do
all of the things they can do with print books. E-books will therefore
be in an evolutionary and developmental stage for some time, but Lynch
suggests that we should welcome this and appreciate whatever positive changes
A., “Gutterdämmerung (twilight of the gutter margins): e-books and
libraries”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2001, pp. 50-62.
is an excellent overview of e-books. He identifies the development of e-books
as a revolution that is less about dedicated reading devices and more about
new platforms, rights management, “and perhaps an inchoate power struggle
among the principal interested parties”. Although he feels that we are
perhaps in “the twilight of…the printed book," and that e-books are “an
industry in search of a market," he sounds a note of optimism in stating
that the relationship between text and delivery platforms is becoming more
dynamic, with the inclusion of added-value features. He is also of the
opinion that libraries should take a leading role in experimenting with
e-books and work with publishers and users to help define pricing models
and issues of rights management.
A., “Special Section on E-Books," Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001,
This special section
of an issue of Library Hi Tech arrived just as my article was going to
press. It contains nine articles dealing with various aspects of e-books.
Many of the articles are authored by people active in the e-books area
and contain recent information. The individual articles are cited below.
“E-Book Technology: Waiting for the ‘False Pretender’”, Information Technology
and Libraries, Vol. 20, Issue 2, June 2001, pp. 72-80.
In a most interesting
analysis, Sottong applies to e-books a model originally propounded in a
series of articles appearing in Library Journal in 1992 by Raymond Kurzweil,
a noted inventor. Kurzweil described seven stages in the evolution of a
technology. Sottong’s analysis concludes that e-books are in an early stage
of evolution because they fail six of the eight criteria necessary for
a technology to become mature. He identifies poor display quality (leading
to eyestrain), difficulty of use as compared with printed books, cost,
and lack of standards as major hurdles for e-books to overcome.
Senior Analyst at RLG, publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Cites &
Insights: Crawford At Large (CICAL), in which he reviews and evaluates
developments in a variety of technological topics. E-books is one of the
topics that Crawford writes about extensively, and CICAL is an outstanding
resource for keeping up to date with developments (Crawford’s newsletter
provided pointers to many of the references used in this article). Crawford
reviews articles that have appeared in the literature as well as current
events that come to his attention, and he is careful to differentiate between
reviewing facts and stating his (very definite) opinions.
with many writers in his opinion that e-books will never supplant printed
books and are highly doubtful for the consumer market. But he does see
areas where they will be useful, such as reference works that are used
in a nonlinear fashion and in the education market. CICAL is freely available
(it is published in PDF format) at http://cical.home.att.net.
Columnist M. J.
Rose frequently writes about e-books in Wired News [http://www.wired.com/news],
and is a particularly good source for late breaking market developments.
Crawford quotes her columns extensively in his articles in CICAL. Rose’s
column appears weekly, whereas e-book articles in CICAL appear approximately
every two or three months, so Rose’s column tends to report on events sooner
than CICAL. However, Crawford’s analysis and comments on Rose’s columns
are extremely worthwhile, so both sources are valuable.
are some additional references of current interest on e-books.]
“What’s Ahead for
2002?” Information Today, Vol. 19, Issue 1, January 2002, pp. 1, 53-54.
“Ebook = MC2: Ebooks at Maroochy Libraries”, LASIE, Vol. 32, No. 2/3, August/December
2001, pp. 21-30.
Brown, Gary J.,
“Beyond Print: Reading Digitally”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001,
“E-book Devices and the Marketplace: In Search of Customers”, Library Hi
Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp.325-31.
Silipigni, “A Web-based Electronic Book (E-book) Library: The netLibrary
Model”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 340-49.
Coyle, Karen, “Stakeholders
and Standards in the E-book Ecology: or, It’s the Economics, Stupid!”,
Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 314-24.
“Tracking the Ebook Vendors," EContent, Vol. 24, No.6, August 2001. pp.
“E-books: The University of Texas Experience, Part 2”, Library Hi Tech,
Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 350-62.
Dorner, Jane, “Authors
and e-delivery," Learned Publishing, Vol. 15, 2001, pp. 63-68. [www.alpsp.org.uk/journal.htm]
Falk, Howard, “How
Should Libraries Handle Ebooks?” The Electronic Library, Vol. 20, No. 1,
2002, pp. 55-57.
Falk, Howard, “What
is Fair Use of E-books?”, The Electronic Library, Vol. 19, No. 5, 2001,
“Growing Competition for Libraries," Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001,
Gibbs, Nancy J.,
“eBooks Two Years Later: The North Carolina State University Perspective”,
Against the Grain, Vol. 13, No. 6, December 2001-January 2002, pp. 22-26.
“E-Books For Easy Reading”, Information Retrieval & Library Automation,
Vol. 36, No. 11, April 2001, pp. 2-4.
T., “Etextbooks Gaining Ground in Print Space," EContent, Vol. 24, No.
2, April 2001, pp. 10-11.
Hughes, Carol Ann
and Buchanan, Nancy L., “Use of Electronic Monographs in the Humanities
and Social Sciences," Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 368-75.
Lonsdale, Roy and
Armstrong, Chris, “Electronic Books: Challenges for Academic Libraries”,
Library Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 332-39.
“Nylink’s Shared Collection: A Collaborative Introduction of a New Technology”,
Against the Grain, Vol. 13, No. 6, December 2001-January 2002, pp. 26-30.
Pfund, Niko, “Technology
and Change in the Library Marketplace," Against the Grain, Vol. 13, No.
5, November 2001, pp. 22-24.
and Gyeszly, Suzanne D., “netLibrary: A New Direction in Collection Development”,
Collection Building, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2001, pp. 154-64.
“E-books and Their Future in Academic Libraries," D-Lib Magazine, Vol.
7, No. 7/8, July/August 2001. [www.dlib.org/dlib/july01/snowhill/07snowhill.html]
Terry, Ana Arias,
“Electronic Ink Technologies: Showing the Way to a Brighter Future”, Library
Hi Tech, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2001, pp. 376-89.
T. Hawkins [email@example.com]
is editor-in-chief for Information Today, Inc.'s Information Science Abstracts
and Fulltext Sources Online.
letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.