Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ebook news

The New York Times ran an article yesterday on new developments in the ebook world. Although the article takes a very skeptical tone - comparing ebooks to flying cars and video phones, it seems to me that the day of ebooks may be coming sooner rather than later.

The article reports that Amazon is going to start to market an ebook reader that with a wireless connection to Now there are a lot of ifs but if the book selection is sufficiently large (and this is Amazon so it should be) and if the cost per the ebook is sufficiently low and finally if the screen is actually adequate for long periods of reading. I could imagine wanting to buy this reader. Being able to browse and select books from Amazon and read them instantly would be a draw.

The second bit of news is that Google is preparing to start charging to view full text of copyright works in their Googlebook database. This as yet to be paired with a mobile reader but the sheer quantity of books on Google makes it seem likely that someone will try to find a way to allow people recreational access to those digital texts. A device with adequate screen resolution that could instantly access and display any book in the Google book database even for a small price would probably be pretty popular.

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  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Cindee said…

    I continue to be amazed at the attitude some journalists and media organizations take toward ebooks.

    Their lack of research damages their own credibility; it does nothing to slow the growing ebook industry. One of the largest ebook sites ( claims to have over 17,000 different books for sale, of all genres. Recent non-fiction, including many (if not most) best-sellers, are available, and quite recently another large publisher of fiction began offering most of their books in ebook format.

    There are still issues, certainly. A lot of people don't like reading from a screen, and those people will probably never buy ebooks.

    Textbooks and academic works (apart from the aforementioned non-fiction works, including history) will probably take a while to come to ebook -- though I can imagine a point where college students would prefer a copy of a textbook they could download to their laptop rather than hauling around.

    But for a certain percentage of the population, ebooks aren't a fad that will fade -- they're a primary way of accessing both fiction and non-fiction reading material.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Cindee said…

    Another random thought: I suspect part of the delay in textbooks being more available in ebook format is the reluctance of students to give up the resale value. Given a choice between carrying a laptop and three large textbooks around and in just carrying a laptop, most college kids might well choose just the laptop. But when textbooks can cost $200, being able to re-sell them at the end of the semester is an issue, and one which the ebook format doesn't allow.

    That's probably the biggest drawback I see to them personally. If I buy a book and don't like it, I can't give it away to someone who might, nor can I sell it at a used bookstore. Still, the reasons I enjoy ebooks far outweigh that consideration. It just means I have to be careful about what I choose in ebook format.


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