The shift towards electronically mediated texts entails major structural issues for libraries and the publishers and aggregators who supply them. Stakeholders within the digital supply chain are struggling to reconceptualize the book as an artefact (Esposito, 2003). Academic and scholarly libraries are at the forefront of these changes. In this article we review some recent developments in the technology underpinning e-books, introduce some of the key players, and review influences affecting uptake.
Engaging With E-Book Technology
The term e-book is unsatisfactory in many respects. In the case of traditional print books, users can immediately understand and identify elements belonging to book technology. By contrast, the term e-book does not explain either the form or its operations (for further information see Lynch, 2001, p. 125). As a generalised term it was initially applied to three types of appliances: e-book, e-tablet, and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). Only their design, purpose, and size distinguished them from software book readers. Figure 1 lists devices available in 2005.
e-book reader device (adapted from eBookMall (2005a)
Reader software can be categorised by e-book formats. Abobe, HTML, and Microsoft readers are some examples of e-book formats. Figure 2 lists different formats of e-book software.
e-book formats (adapted from eBookMall, 2005b)
Key Terms in this Chapter
Electronic Book (e-Book): An e-book is an electronic (or digital) version of a book that can be downloaded to computers or handheld devices.
Amazon.com: Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” feature introduced in 2003 and now available as a feature for half of all books sold, allows people to use keywords to search text inside books. The firm has plans to introduce the “Amazon Pages” program in 2006, enabling the purchase of online access to text—up to and including an entire work, and “Amazon Upgrade” a program to access books electronically that have been shipped in printed form.
Electronically Mediated Text E-Book Reader or Device: An e-book reader can be a software application for use on a computer, such as Microsoft’s free Reader application, or a book-sized computer that is used solely as a reading device, such as Nuvomedia’s Rocket e-book. Users can purchase an e-book on diskette or CD, but the most popular method of getting an e-book is to purchase a downloadable file of the e-book (or other reading material) from a Web site (such as Barnes and Noble) to be read from the user’s computer or reading device. Generally, an e-book can be downloaded in 5 minutes or less.
Open E-Book Forum: The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), formerly the Open eBook Forum is the trade and standards association for the digital publishing industry ( http://www.idpf.org/ ).
E-Book Supply Chain: A sequence of activities and organisations involved in producing and delivering a good or service. An IT supply chain—as required for e-books—is the flow of resources into and out of the firm’s IT operations.
Google Book Search: Launched in 2004, the Google Print Library Project digitises and makes online texts searchable from the university library collections at Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Oxford, and the New York Public Library giving locations for purchase or borrowing. Copyright issues are yet to be resolved. Database access will only be via Google’s search engine.