Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Digital Book 2007 Conference

Library Journal reported that The International Digital Publishing forum held the Digital Book 2007 conference in May (Rogers & Datema, 2007). Problems discussed at the conference included the lack of standards for ebook format and the different ebook readers. So far ebooks and ebook readers have not become popular. The Library Journal article discussed how digital textbooks would be a great improvement for students since they are searchable and cheaper than print books. However, I was surprised that the article did not mention how useful these devices could be for older adults and for people who have vision problems. Since ebook readers could display text in large print sizes, this could greatly increase the number of books available in large print. Older adults, who need large print, would not be limited to only print books that have a large print edition. I think that this technology could catch on with older adults, especially when the prices for ebook readers come down.

For older adults that have a computer, there may be a new way to get digital books - through a plan by Google to allow a weekly rental for digital books or by buying the digital book through Google. The article did not give any proposed prices for book rental. The reading experience may not be very attractive to older adults though - due to the glare of the computer screen and the fact that this method of reading is not very mobile or convenient. The article also mentioned that the quality of scanning by Google was not consistently good.

Peter Brantley of the Digital Library Federation is quoted as proposing that libraries provide poor people with free or low cost access to nonfiction books - but not fiction books (p. 30). I disagree with this stance entirely. I believe that providing fiction is an important part of a public library's mission. Early in the 1900's, Librarians debated about whether or not to provide fiction books to patrons. I think that this debate should be over. We are not in the business of telling our patrons what they should read. Instead, we should be providing them with the books that they request.

Rogers, M. & Datema, J. (2007, June) IDPF hosts digital book 2007. Library Journal, 132(10), p.27-30.

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