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Sujay Darji and Stephen Abram were the speakers for this session.  Sujay Darji started off by discussing his work at SWETS with eBooks.  SWETS is a subscription agent primarily known for aggregating periodicals.  So what do the content suppliers (aka publishers) need from subscription agents like SWETS?  Aggregators started approaching subscription agents wanting them to distribute their content.  A lot of small to medium sized publishers were inexperienced with eBook distribution models and purchasing models.  SWETS tried to close some of those gaps.  Subscription agents needed to decide what terms and conditions they wanted to put into place for eBooks.  What are the headaches librarians experience with eBooks?  It’s difficult to compare pricing between vendors because there are content &  “platform” fees.  It’s hard to find out what eBook titles are available and hard to compare licensing terms.  Digital rights management, dictated by publishers, is inconsistent and horrible.   How many eBook platforms are there out there?  SWETS wanted to focus on acquisition of eBooks.  His approach to eBooks is three-fold – acquire, manage, and access.  Managing millions of cross-publisher eBooks in one platform lets you navigate and control your collection without having to jump between platforms.  With the SWETS model, there is no need to create a separate platform.  Simply integrate your eBooks into your existing publicly viewable discovery systems/ILSs.  The tool is a free tool that is open to all users.  There is no platform fee, which is a relevant research tool that you can use to build your collection.

Stephen Abram’s talk was entitled Frankenbooks (LOVE IT!).   When we’re reading with a little bit of light on a screen, interaction with the screen is encouraged.  If we use a codex model to try to understand what textbooks of the future will look like, we’ll get it wrong.  How do you engage learners, researchers, teachers, curriculum heads, testers, and assessors to agree on reforming their eBook textbooks?  Most eBooks are text that you can read end to end.  Many eBooks, though, you just want to read a specific section.  Stephen showed traditional publishing bingo and electronic publishing bingo cards J  Want!  Why do people like the smell of books?  Smell is the largest memory trigger, and with books they’re remembering all of the things they learned, how they felt, etc.  How would you enhance a book?  What framework would you use?  We cannot take the old format and carry all the compromises forward.  Where do publishers move with all of the new options?  When you look at the physical act of reading, how does the act of learning happen?  The Cengage eBooks have embedded video, use HTML5, etc.  Look at the reading experience itself, not the devices.   He expressed deep concern about advertising making its way into eBooks, particularly in the Google Books project.  What if eTextBooks showed reports to teachers of what the students have actually read, how they’re doing on quizzes, etc.?  Scholarly works – how does one do profitable publishing of “boring stuff”?  Stephen emphasized the idiocy of the Google “single station per library” model.  Amazon squashed Lendle, a Kindle book lending program.  And Stephen pointed out that lending content—isn’t that something we do?  Device issues are huge.  Are we okay with Steve Jobs deciding what we read?   Stephen feels like there’s less concern about the craziness of eBook standards.  We’re in a renaissance for formats and standards.  We don’t want to re-create all of the compromises of the codex in the 19th century.  The Enterouge Edge reader is a dual screen reader.  Librarians need to understand the US FCC Whitespace Broadband decision.  We need to be mindful of mobile dominance, geo-awareness, wireless as a business strategy, and that the largest generation is here and using this technology now.  What are we doing promoting a minority-based learning style (end to end text-based learning) to the majority of our users?  If we keep fighting all of our battles with publishers on text-based books, we’re failing as librarians.  Multimedia and integration is the future.  What is a book?  Why do people read?  And how do we engage with all of the opportunities we have in front of us now?  Serve everyone!  We have to move faster.  Try to influence the ecosystem on a large scale.  Work with your consortium to effect change.  Let’s move faster together!

“CIL 2011: eBook Models & Challenges”

  1. Lea Says:

    Wow. That was a lot of information packed into 2 paragraphs! Good stuff. Maybe they should start making book-smelling Kindles…

  2. Caitlin Says:

    “What if eTextBooks showed reports to teachers of what the students have actually read, how they’re doing on quizzes, etc.?”…this already exist, it’s called a learning management system; Moodle is a prime example.

  3. CIL 2011 Reflections « Agnostic, Maybe Says:

    [...] The other neuron agitation came the next day listening to Stephen Abrams talking about eBook models & challenges. This was my first time hearing Stephen speak at a conference in person; I had been told it was something not to be missed. I was not disappointed. (Check out Sarah Houghton-Jan’s notes on the whole speech.) [...]

  4. Brad Anderson Says:

    I absolutely Love samara!

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