The Shifting Landscape Of e-Books / New Library World / 110 (1/2): 7- 21 / 2009 / Aline Soules
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the current state of e-books, describing their potential scope, highlighting information from recent ebrary surveys in connection with the author’s on-the-ground experience with students, and discussing the challenges of these evolving works.
Design/Methodology/Approach – The paper describes the need to broaden perceptions of e-books in light of their extensive potential and scope. It highlights significant points in the ebrary surveys and compares them with the author’s on-the-ground experience in a medium-sized university with students who are less advantaged. It also presents the challenges librarians face, both currently and in the future, illustrating progress in some areas and emphasizing the growing complexity in managing these works.
Findings – Even as librarians cope with what can now be considered “traditional” e-books, little attention is paid to the potential breadth and diversity of e-books. The surveys show that librarians are only partially aware of students’ perceptions about e-books and that there are conflicting priorities among students, faculty, and librarians. Conclusions are that: even as librarians cope with the current state of e-books, they must also plan for future types of e-books; and there is a strong need for greater communication in the increasingly complex e-book arena of selection, acquisition, collection integration, and instruction.
Originality/Value – Much of the literature about e-books deals with the pros and cons, either of e-books or of e-book readers. The paper lays out e-book issues to foster further in-depth discussion.
Despite the issues and despite their slower-than-expected evolution, e-books prevail. The current technical issues will be resolved, even as new ones spring up. Librarians will continue to acquire more and more e-books, in packages or individually, and work to help users with some configuration that integrates e-books into the rest of the collection; inform users of their existence; and provide some instruction on how to find,search, and use them. [snip].
Ultimately, it comes down to what content creators want to develop and convey. E-books offer so many options – text, audio, still images, moving images – and so many devices on which to read them – computers, iPods, PDAs. Creators are experimenting. [snip].
Just as the e-book will come in many formats, even as its name continues to carry its genetic heritage, there will be new technologies that prompt further evolution into something yet to be envisioned. Beyond that, the e-book will never be static, continually embracing new possibilities.