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Hot Topics:

The Endangered Monograph

Confluence of changes | Capturing our print past | Forays into a new future | Resources

Capturing Our Print Past – Books Going Digital

Even while print publication is highly valued by authors and tenure committees alike, there are real and varied advantages of digital access to this material:

Over several years, a variety of vendors have made book content available in digital format. Many of these offerings are made on terms that benefit publishers over users. Not only do they often involve licensing terms based on leased vs. owned content, but the pricing is often 50-100% higher than their print equivalents. In many instances they place strict limits on functionality that are often criticized by readers. Limitations can include:

Some digital material can only be accessed using proprietary e-book readers accessing subsets of digital material that is hard-coded to fit only the specific equipment — resulting in lots of digital material existing, but not being actually available across platforms. These limitations make the e-book in many instances an unacceptable surrogate for the print version.

The industry for e-book readers is evolving. It remains to be seen what niches the e-book reader will eventually fill. An interesting entrant on the scene is the Sony Reader:

"It uses an electronic paper display developed by E Ink Corporation … [it] uses an iTunes Store-like interface to purchase books — Sony's Connect eBook store. It also can display Adobe PDFs, personal documents, blogs, newsfeeds, JPEGs, and Sony's proprietary Bbeb ('BroadBand eBook') format." (Wikipedia)

The Sony Reader came on the market in late 2006. Other e-book readers are rumored on the near horizon.

More hopeful are projects that intend to make book content digitally available to the public, with maximum functionality, at an affordable cost. Libraries, including UC Libraries, are monitoring emerging models for digital book-like material and their respective costs, with the intent of helping to shape an economically sustainable and scholar-friendly future.

Two current examples are The Open Content Alliance and Google Books, where all one needs is a web browser to access content. UC Berkeley is a participant in both:

Confluence of changes | Capturing our print past | Forays into a new future | Resources
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