LIBR 287 - Tom Peters - 3/23/10

Uploaded by jeremykemp on 30.03.2010

Hi everybody. Hi everybody. I am really excited to introduce our guest speaker tonight, Tom
Peters. Tom Peters is the CEO of TAP Information Services and he does consulting and projects
of all types with all kinds of libraries. Alliance Library System does a lot of projects
with him. And I worked with Tom for 12 years on different projects, and he was one of the
first librarians I know to get involved with the e-books back in 1998, 12 years ago, way
before, you know, mobile library services are the way they are now. And he can tell
you the story of how he got involved in e-books, it's a funny story. And then I also want to
share with you, we did an early project in 2001 with the couple of academic libraries
in e-books, and we wrote an article in Library Journal called E-Books Go to College. And
one library used the dedicated e-book reading device, the Rocket eBook which is quite a
bit like the Amazon Kindle. And then the other college used the Franklin eBookMan which was
disband just from the year after we tried it, but it was the device that had the PDA
plus the e-book reading plus a lot of these functions that you find on today's PDAs. And
we were speculating about what device would win out, and it turns out that almost 10 years
later, we have the dedicated reading devices like Kindle, but we also have the devices
like the Sony eReader that can do a lot more than just the e-reading. So, Tom, we're really
glad to have you, and I'll turn it over to you.
Okay. Thanks much, Lori. Let me just do a quick audio check. Can people hear me? Yey!
Okay. I'm gonna try to--I'm actually in Portland for the PLI Conference which starts tomorrow.
And I'm in a hotel on a Wi-Fi connection, but I'll try to keep it simple here, and you
guys can just chat any questions or comments you have, and I think I'll just kinda keep
my mic locked on if that's okay and just kinda try to advance my slides if I do anything
too fancy here. So, thanks very much for inviting me to speak. I'm always--I'm glad to meet
with Laurie and Jeremy's classes and to talk about stuff, it's not about to talk about
what I called portable e-reading, which as Lori said, has been really possible for the
12 years. But I think we're really now in the midst of the real revelation. The late
'90s and first few years of the current millennium were kind of a false revelation. There's lot
of hype around that, but hadn't really taken off yet. Now, I think we're really underway
here. So, I'm really excited that we've done this. Just so you know this story is my introduction
to e-book as well. Lori had bought a Rocket eBook and she--we live both in [inaudible]
at that time, and she just mailed it over to my house for me to try it. And as luck
would have it or state would have it, the day, the morning of before the device arrived,
I had stepped on a nail, and I had to stay in bed for a couple of days. And so I was
in a lot of pain and, you know, stepping on a nail was no fun. And I was in--yeah, Vicky,
ouch is right, and I was in bed sort of nursing my sore foot and my wife brought up the mail
and said, "Well, here this packet for you", and it was the Rocket eBook. So, I spent an
entire weekend reading Alice in Wonderland on a Rocket eBook, and I was just enthralled.
I thought that this was the cruelest thing. And so, I've been very interested in the whole
e-book market and developments and things since then. And I'm really enthused about
what's happening, although I do have some concerns as well about what's currently happening
with e-reading and the whole portable e-book movement. What I like just to do for the next
few minutes is just talk to you about some of the idea that I had. And I have to admit,
I probably thought more about reading in the last few years than I did in my entire life
prior to that. And I've always been a big reader, but I never really thought about reading,
and what's going on when you're reading, and what are some of the ancillary activities.
I just sort of did it rather than think about it. So, I've been thinking about this a little
bit, and I want to share some ideas with you. So, first of all, what is reading? And I'm
not maybe advocating Wikipedia, but I go look at the Wikipedia definition, and just kind
of just what was on there. They refer to reading as a complex process of--oh thanks, but I'm
not sure if you're doing that, thanks much--a process of decoding symbols for the intention
of deriving and/or constructing meanings, so that's a complex process of decoding symbols
of any sort, I guess, for the intention of deriving meaning and/or constructing meaning.
I'll come back to that, whether you're deriving meaning from a text or constructing meaning
as you read a text. But I sort of built my own tentative definition, and I think of reading
as interacting with primarily alphanumeric text. And again, I'll come back to, you know,
why primarily and not exclusively--thus, constituting a complete complex satisfying sensory, cognitive,
and emotional experience. So, it's a complex thing to read, as we all know, if you just
think about it for a little bit, but it is satisfying. It does involve the senses. It
does involve cognition, and there often is an emotional response to it especially when
you're reading fiction, but also with nonfiction. I can often be very pleased by an argument
or know a historical scene depicted in the history book or something like that, or I
can also be very frustrated or angry with the way an argument is constructed in a work
of nonfiction. So, I think there are all three components - it includes sensation, cognition,
and emotive kind of responses to reading. So, let's talk first about reading as a sensory
intake you're ingesting this information. And again, then I guess some people argue
that maybe there aren't five senses after that, but while I was growing up, my golly,
there were five senses. And so, I thought about this. And really, visual reading, when
most people think of reading, they think of visual reading. You're either--you're reading
print something that's printed on paper or more and more now digital content, but you're
using your eyes to intake, as your sensory intake channel, if you will. And so, again,
that's kind of the visual reading is considered the primacy, I guess, for most people, that's
what they think of. But I think that one of the really exciting things in the last few
years has been what I call auditory reading or listening to an audio book. I think it's
a very good way to read. And I'm sighted myself but I do work with blind or low vision users,
but I'm sighted myself, so I read visually, I read auditorily as well, which is analog
reading, the old tapes and whatnot. But also, again, this is primarily going digital now.
Auditory reading can be prepackaged, so it could be on a CD. You could buy a CD. You
can buy those that are playaway devices that are quite popular. You can also do downloadable
digital audiobooks are a big thing. I actually coordinate a multistate service called "Unabridged"
which is a downloadable digital audiobook service for blind and low vision individuals.
It's also possible of course to stream audio over the internet, such as what we're trying
to do now from this hotel lobby. Then, of course, there's tactile reading, so the sense
of touch is available to every reader, you know, and the feel of the book and the smell
of the book are certainly part of that, but you can actually use your sense of touch as
a way to ingest sensory intake or text. The only tactile reading form I know of is braille.
Braille is available again, also printed or digital. There is actually digital braille.
But there are the other tactile reading methods and languages and whatnot, I just don't know
of them, but braille is certainly one that's been around for a while then center points
out in text yet. Yeah, there are also real time audiobooks or what they call "text-to-speech",
where for example, like on the Kindle or there's software, a lot of software out there that
allows books to be read out loud to you. And I think actually that that's a great thing.
And I think that in the digital era, one of the things that I think I've been sort of
working on is what I call a Readers Bill of Rights for the Digital Era.
I think that readers ought to be able to decide how they want to--what sensory intake channel
they want to use for a particular text. So, for example, in the case of the Kindle, you
can read it visually for a while, and then if your eyes get tired or whatever, or you're
commuting, or it's evening and you want to relax in a different way, you could switch
over to having the audio intake method, sort of the text-to-speech function. So, I think
that really--readers ought to have the right to decide how they want to intake it. And
then, you know, this sounds kinda crazy but in fact there's been a little bit of work
down on olfactory reading where your sense of smell actually comes into, I think. And
people who have studied senses say that actually the sense of smell is one of the most evocative
sense you can--one of your most evocative senses, and that a smell can actually bring
back very vivid memories. For example, one time I heard--one time I smelled someone who
was wearing perfume that my long dead aunt had used to wear. And when I smelled it, I
immediately recognized the scent, and it brought back immediately all these memories of my
aunt who had been dead for years. And so, I can tell you that the olfactory sense is
a very strong sense, very powerful sense. And there's actually an olfactory web, I put
in the link here that you go read up a little bit on, what--a little bit of the work that's
been done on the olfactory web, "scratch and sniff web" they call it. And then just to
round out, there are five traditional senses. There's always, what I call, gustatory reading,
which we'd literally devour a good book. And there's actually a group, it's an international
group, that has an International Edible Book Festival, I think they'd call
it where they actually make things that look like books. And I think maybe contain text,
you know, how they work, but you can eat them. So, even though, you know, that's kind of
funny, maybe there's some future for gustatory reading. But the point I'm trying to make
is that, you know, most people when you think of reading, you think of visual reading, but
I think we need to be a little more inclusive and expansive in thinking about what reading
really entails. I've been wondering if, I'm not a big gamer myself, but if somebody's
complex games that people play, online games, it's really sort of better to describe what
they're doing as "reading the game" than "playing the game." I'm not sure about that, but they,
you know. So, I think that the notion of reading is sort of evolving, at least in my [inaudible].
Now, one thing I want to get on my soapbox just for a second and exhorts you not to be
reading snubs. I hear people and read about people that some people argue that reading
visually a book printed on paper is the best or only true reading experience. They could
just think that any other type of reading is sort of like false reading or slamming.
A few people say that, "Oh, listening to the audiobook is not really reading the book,
you're slamming, you're just sort of cutting corners, and it's not as immersive in experience
as reading it visually. I'm just asking us all to be a little more tolerant. We all have
our favorite ways to read. I don't wanna say that you can't have a favorite way to read,
but I just want us to try to be inclusive and not be reading snubs. And I think there
are a few hypersnubs out there I call them that their idea of the only true reading is
visually reading a hard-bound printed book that you personally own, not a library copy
in an easy chair, very comfortable easy chair, with a glass of wine, not a beer, not a glass
of bourbon, I think, but a glass of wine, five [inaudible], I think, is the only true
reading. And so, I guess my point is that we have this tradition in the west anyway,
and it's really quite a recent tradition, to be honest with you, from what I know of
the history of reading where you're alone, you're reading a printed book, and you got
a nice comfortable chair, and you got a good source of light, external source of light,
and that is often the--what we might call the platonic ideal of reading. And I think
that that might be sort of the modern way of reading. But now that we're in the postmodern
era, I think we need to think a little bit more broadly and more sort of inventively
about what really is reading and what, you know, is there a hierarchy of reading or are
all types of reading equally valid. Okay. So, for me, the bottom line of what I'm trying
to say to you tonight, that I do think that reading digital books visually--both visually
and auditorily on portable devices probably will become the next best thing since widespread.
I just read something today on a flight out here to Portland that there's a guy who sort
of follows the publishing market. And his best estimate is that right now, for newly
released--what he calls e-bookable books, you know, books that don't have a lot of texts--don't
have a lot of images and things like that, not art books or textbooks or things like
that, that e-books constitute about five percent of sales, given across the entire publishing--all
the publishers, you know, for some publishers more, some publishers less, he thinks that
the growth rate, though, year over year, is quite phenomenal, like four percent--400 percent
growth rate. So, he thinks that within a year or so, we might see 20 percent of all new
sales of books be electronic books, and he thinks by 2012, it might get to about 25 percent.
And he thinks when it gets up to that level, it's gonna be "disruptive" I think was the
word that he used. It's really gonna change the way publishers behave and whatnot. So,
I really think that there's a bright future for digital reading, electronic reading, especially
on portable devices, whether they're--whether the iPod makes tablet PCs, what everybody
has to have, or I read right now on my Blackberry, I read on my netbook, there's lot of different
devices out there. But I think that what we're gonna see is a pretty bright future for digital
reading, especially on portable electronic devices. I do think the real true portable
e-reading revolution is now underway. And of course, many large corporations, you know,
all these - Amazon, Apple, Sony, Google, Barnes & Noble, others, some stratups as well, are
investing in a marketing of portable e-reading content systems and services. So, the money
is starting to get there now too. I mean there's been pretty big investment in portable e-reading.
And the thing I worry about, and I try not to be what I call a "Henny Penny librarian",
"Oh, the sky is falling, the sky is falling, all, woe is me, oh, my profession is in dire
straits, markets dead, oh, what shall we do?" But I really do worry that if we look--looking
down the road a few years and we see that, oh, let's say 25, 30 percent of all reading
that's done is done on portable e-reading devices, I just don't see libraries and library
vendors very well positioned right now for this emerging market. And I think we're almost
all ready in catch-up mode. Okay, so let's circle back to this sort of basic idea of
reading. And another thing I'm thinking about is, well, why do we read? And I think there
are three main reasons why people read. One of course is school-related things--reading.
So, from the time you learn how to read, you're really kind of looking at--yes, I'm not sure
I'm doing number two first yet, but it makes more sense in sort of a lifecycle of our typical
reader. They first learn to read in school. And school-related reading is really a major
part of what you do, from all your structured, your formal educational years, and that's
a certain type of reading, and you know, a valid form of reading. And then when you enter
the world of work, you do a lot of reading as well, especially in information intensive
kind of work, whether you're in the office situation or cubicle situation, you do a lot
of reading. And most of these reading is done on screen, of course, now. And then there's
this whole thing of pleasure reading or avocational reading, which is kind of a focus of my ideas
that I'm sharing with you tonight. I don't think pleasure quite captures it because some
avocational reading--readers are very into a subject whether it's World War II, or Abraham
Lincoln, or whatever their avocational interest is, they are very avid readers in that discipline.
And they are, you know, they read more than most formal students involved in formal education
if they're reading a particular subject area. So, to call it "pleasure reading", I think,
is a little bit--a bit of a misnomer. So, I call it "avocational reading". You're not
doing it for school, you're not doing it for work, you're doing it for other reasons. And
I suppose the fourth one is kind of incidental reading. I think of like road signs has been,
you read road sign, but you don't sort of--I don't know if anyone says, you know, I'm gonna
relax a little bit and go out and read some road signs.
You don't sort of seek out road signs as a reading experience. But when you encounter
a road sign, you do read it. And there's some often symbols, and also there'd be some written
text on a lot of road signs. Maybe cereal boxes and other thing where you--you're waking
up in the morning and you're sort of reading the cereal box, not really intentionally,
you're not looking for a page turner cereal box, but you're just kind of reading it to
do reading. I maybe call that incidental reading as the fourth type of reading. So, who reads
for pleasure? The National Endowment for the Arts has been doing a series of reports about
the reading habits of adult Americans. And believe it or not, in any given year, only
a slight majority of adult Americans read anything for pleasure that is not related
to work and/or school, and other than words on the TV, cereal boxes, road sign, that kind
of stuff. Only a slight majority of Americans, in any given year, read anything for an--as
part of avocational reading. The actual statistic from the most recent report was been on January
2009, the data were actually gathered in 2008, is a slight 50.2 percent majority of adult
Americans, possibly around 13 million engaged in literary reading in 2008. And I'll give
you a link if you wanna go read the report. And that's actually a slight increase over
previous reports in this series. One of the most famous reports was titled "Reading at
Risk", where they were showing how in previous years, the percentage of adult Americans who
were reading was actually declining. And there's lot of recent, you know, a lot of speculation
of why that was occurring, the onslaught of media opportunities, home videos, the internet,
lots of reasons. But the most recent sort of survey--snapshot survey found that it's
actually going up a little bit, bit still, barely more than half of adult Americans read
anything avocationally in any given year. So, one way to categorize the adult American
reading public, I think as we look at this e-book initiative revolution that's underway,
is you get your early adopters. They probably already own a Kindle, or Sony reader, or they've
got a iPod on order. The last time I looked, there's been about 1.5 million units sold,
it's probably higher now, these portable e-readers. Or they read books, e-books on their mobile
phones or netbooks. Like I said, yeah, I wish I had a --which I do too I know we had an
iPod on order. But I read on my Blackberry, which is a pretty good experience. And I've
just purchased a netbook, so I'm reading some e-books on that as well, which is a good experience.
And then you've got, maybe the above or extreme is what I call "never adopters". They see
no compelling reason to switch from printed books to e-books. Some of these never adopters
are, you know, sometimes, I'll hear comments like, "Well, you know, really, the computer
evolution's kind of a bust, you know. It hasn't increased productivity at all. We're just
kind of frittering away our lives online, and gee, could we go back to the pre-computer
days?" You know, I hear comments like that every once in a while, but not necessarily
from elderly people. It's amazing how there seems to be [inaudible] about a pocket of
resistance, if you will, to the whole computer revolution and network evolution. They just--they're--they
don't see no compelling reason to make that switch. And the third group, I would call
the "middlers". This a large middle group between these two extremes, but not averse
to e-reading, but they may be a little bit uncertain and uncomfortable about the whole
prospect of e-reading. And this may be the "court clientele" for e-book services, especially
to public libraries. I think that public libraries could have--and are having an impact on helping
these middlers to sort of explore the new realm of electronic reading, especially on
portable devices. So, don't underestimate the power of the middlers. And my exhibit
A here, if this were a court of law, I would introduce as exhibit A, the playaway device.
If you haven't had the chance to try or experience a playaway device, I would encourage you out.
It's a very interesting thing because, you know, there are playaway MP3 players out there,
and you can download digital audiobooks from OverDrive, NetLibrary, a lot of different
sources, kind of things. But what playaway did was they kind of tapped into
the power of the middlers. So, they preloaded digital audiobook onto a device. So, there's
nothing to download or transfer, very simple device, easy to start and operate, there's
no moving parts. It's very easy for libraries to lend these things out. Every report I hear
back is that libraries are very pleased in with the kind of circulation raise they're
seeing on these playaway devices. I think of them as like Pony Express devices. They
don't last long, I mean I don't see the playaway era lasting long, but they get us from the
time when you're delivering mail on--flip to the time that the mail was delivered by
trains. And so the Pony Express played a real crucial role as the transitional technology.
I sort of see these things like the playaway as helping people to transition from analog
audio recordings and books printed on paper to truly digital portable kind of reading
experience. So, the biggest assumption that I'm just throwing out there, and maybe it's
an assumption I admitted is that in the next--in the near future, who knows how long, maybe
10 years, maybe 5 years, you know, much--perhaps most of reading for pleasure, avocational
reading, will be done digitally on portable devices. Now, I don't want a slight reading
on desktop computers, e-book content that's found via searchable databases. We all know
these databases. Ebrary is one that comes to mind. And then we shouldn't treat books
as databases, where they get the book in there and then you're able to search. I mean you're
sort of able to zero in on just those parts of typically nonfiction works that are of
interest to you, whenever you're working on a paper or a research project or just pursuing
an interest. But I'm also seeing some statistics that--NetLibrary reported that the average
length of time that anybody stayed logged in the NetLibrary is like 14 minutes. So,
people aren't using these e-book databases as for extended reading. They're just going
in the search database to find and then use it, cite it, and get on with their paper or
whatever they're working on. But to me, portable reading for avocational pleasure reading is
a whole different bowl of wax. And I think that libraries currently are doing much better
on--what I've got me listed here as number two, so then they are in number one. So, I
think that we need sort of let me try to focus more on reading for pleasure and how we can
serve people who wanna read for pleasure. The thing that I find as I--when ALA was in
Chicago last summer, I made a point of going around to all the vendors I could identify
that were offering e-books, and I asked them about, you know, can you put this on--if you
have a portable e-reading experience with your content, so when I'd like my iLibrary
from being digital, ebrary, Baker & Taylor, most of them responded, "Yeah, you could do
it, but it's not really designed for that." So, they should have designed their systems
for more than desktop database search kind of experience, which is fine, but there's
something amidst this other type of reader need. I should give you an update, though,
that Baker & Taylor is about ready to launch a service called Blio, B-L-I-O. It should
be launched in the next couple of weeks or so. I think if you go to, you can
actually sign up to get an email notification of it. The person behind the design of its
software and content that's supposed to be sort of like device agnostic so that you could--and
it's all up and running, you can read your--you have good eReader, and, yeah, I signed up
too to find out about it. I heard from someone over at the Baker & Taylor that they're predicting
it now early April. Yeah, thanks Early April is I think they're gonna launch
this thing. Ray Kurzweil is the guy who's really kind of behind the software. One of
the pre-release commentary I'm reading about it is it's really gonna be a pretty really
nice e-reading software, and it's supposed to be able to play on just about any device.
So, I'll be interested on what, you know, what Baker & Taylor does on that. So, they're
starting to make some movement in that movement area. I'm gonna speed up here 'cause I guess
I'm running a little bit long, I've been too long right here. The other problem, sort of
the flip side problem is that most of these established mainstream portable e-reading
services are basically ignoring libraries and the library model in their business plans.
So, Amazon with their Kindle is definitely focused on the direct end-user services. And
I have to admit, I use Kindle Editions, and it is a very seamless, fast, easy service
to use. I mean they've really thought through all of the nuts and bolts of doing this.
And so, I don't own a Kindle, I actually just downloaded the free Kindle software both on
my Blackberry and on my netbook, but they really have a nicely integrated easy-to-use
service, I've got to admit, but it's really focused on, again, user. And then Google--I
don't want to get bashful, you know, but they would have seem to view libraries as almost
like third world country as we just go and sort of extract the raw materials and then
leave the country. They seem to be going in the library just sort of like extracting us.
Like we were the source of raw resource, printed books to be scanned, and they're just going
and then scanning these things, and I'm not sure what interest they'll have in libraries
once they've finished that big scanning project they have underway with all their partner
libraries. So, they don't seem to be too interested in the library model. And of course, Google
Editions is going to launch theirs in 2010. And I'm still trying to figure out exactly
how it's gonna work, but it's going to become browser-based. But I don't see any kind of
institutional sales to libraries and other organizations happening at the Google front.
Barnes & Nobles also seem to be instituting what libraries are doing. Do note, though,
that their nook device does have a "lend to a friend" function, so that you can let a
friend who read your nook book, but it's disabled while you have it loaned out to your friend.
And I think you can only do one loan to one friend. So, choose carefully which friend
you're gonna lend your nook to. I do also have to note that Sony and OverDrive have
a joint marketing agreement. But in talking with folks in OverDrive, but I'm not really
sure that's it's a tight joint marketing agreement. It might be one of those things they did announce
it but nothing major really happens there. I don't know. Okay, so, yeah. Andy you're
right, yeah. It lends the text from one nook to another. I don't know how you transfer
it, if it's through a Wi-Fi connection or what, but--yes, from one nook owner to another.
And my understanding is that once you loan it to your friend, you can't read it then
until you get it back from them, and I think you can only do it once per title if I remember
it correctly. And maybe they made a--changed that, but it's only like one loaning per entitle.
Okay. So, to me, the trillion dollar question is should libraries, as cultural institutions
for the public good, which I think they are, especially public libraries, to fight and
claw their way in a position to exert a long-term positive influence over the emerging portable
e-reading market. And I think the answer to that is a resounding yes. So, I think that
we really do have to work hard to make sure that libraries and the library lending model,
and all the underpinning technology and economics and implicit social contract, and all the
other things that make libraries such wonderful cultural institutions don't get shoved to
the wayside as the e-reading revolution continues apace. Okay. So, let's kind of shift gears
here and talk about what I consider the elements of a portable e-reading experience, and I
sort of see three basic elements. You've got to have content, you've got to have a device,
which is sort of like an amalgam of hardware and software, and you've got to have some
sort of distribution and delivery service, delivery systems. So, first of all, content.
So, there's always--what there--I don't what it is about human nature, but whenever something
new happens, then you always have to have a format work. It's not--it's the same thing
with portable e-reading. So, you got like PDF, EPUB, Kindle's got their own format.
There's lot of formats floating around there. From what I can tell, reading and observing
the industry, EPUB seems to be the emerging winner in this thing, but Google Edition is
trying to hold bi-sidestep at whole EPUB versus PDF thing and doing a browser-based way of
delivering their content. So, I don't know exactly whether it's gonna be XML or I don't
know what it is gonna be. And of course, you need a device of how much the content can
be read. You need to think about the size of the collection, you need to think about
the nature of the collection being offered to your e-book service, frontless stuff, middlers
backlist, public domain, what substrates you have, different languages. All that kind of
stuff is sort of a collection 101. You got to think about your delivery system and your
metadata. DRM is what we love to hate, but it's kind of out there and we have to deal
with it. And of course, the price of the content for any digital institutions, and then, also
we have to think about the media that's embedded in the e-reading experience or what model
we wanna call wedia [phonetic]. And this is a big question. What role is embedded media
whether it's images, videos, other things, that are gonna be embedded then are being
embedded in a lot of these portable e-reading experiences? So, for example, we got the thing
called the "vook", vook, V-O-O-K. It's an e-book with embedded videos and social media
tools. I really want you to take a look at There's also the Alex Reader
which has a dual screen. On the top, it's more of a traditional e-book kind of display,
e-ink kind of display. And below, it's more kind of a browser kind of display. And you
use them to--in tandem to interact with the content. So, kind of--a lot of interesting
things happening with touch plus media as we get into this revolution. From what I can
tell, the major e-book vendors right now are--the Internet archive claim to have 1.6 million
titles in the--probably DAISY formats. DAISY is a markup language that makes it easy for
blind or low vision users to access the content. Sony Reader claims to have over a million
titles namely Google Books and the public domain now, so it's kind of a different kind
of collection. Barnes & Noble claim to have over a million titles. Last time I checked
Google Editions, it's about 600,000, Amazon Kindle - 350,000. All these are not really
serving the library market. All those up there. OverDrive - last time I check with them, they
claimed to have about a 160,000 unique e-book titles. So, OverDrive and NetLibrary, compared
to these other content, e-book content vendors, are really kind of small potatoes. Okay. Also
with devices, you need to think about what's the overall size and weight of the device,
you know. And one size is not gonna fit all. We've got, you know, smallish devices like
my Blackberry, pretty small screen; medium devices like the traditional Kindle; and then
you got these tablet PCs and XL kind of things. Now, of course, screen size is a major component
of what you can do with presenting the e-book text. And the Hearst Corporation is, I forgot
what their initiative is called, maybe somebody can help me out there. They're actually working
on a project to make like newspapers and magazines on a tablet-type device that makes the prism
adaptation of that kind of content compelling on a portal e-reading device. There are all
these types of screens out there. You got e-inks, you got touchscreen. There's a really
interesting group called Pixel Qi that's working on some interesting technology. Their screen
technology is kind of R&D and screen technology right now is fast and furious. I'll try to
hurry up here. Battery type and longevity, how long you can read the thing. The great
thing with e-ink is you got a lot of page turns because there's no ongoing power drain.
Once it's refreshed that page and presented it to you, basically, there's no power until
you turn the page next time. So, the only thing is if you draw down the power, you actually
page turn on the e-ink display. All these different devices support different file types,
so be careful when you're out there in the market. Make sure, you know, this guy play
the type of file type that you want. And it's sort of a smaller subset of that thing. The
point is you do need to load locally-created content. If that's gonna be important to you
and your users, you wanna users that you can do that. And then there's all--the last bullet
here is all those ancillary stuff I call it, which maybe really kinda core and key to whether
you'll be getting sort of really takes off to the next level. So, you got things like
an embedded dictionary. You got highlighting, note taking. We already mentioned touch--
Okay, that might be a good opportunity to take a little bit of a break and gather our
thoughts and think of questions for Tom when he gets back. So, so far, what have you guys
thought about the presentation and what's your comment--
Tom, just a minute. Tom, just a minute. Guys, we have another visitor here, so, just a minute.
Let me see what else I could do or maybe I could turn on the speaker for myself in just
a minute. I just want you to know or do you think this will work or do you think I should
put the cellphone on a speaker and try it again?
Okay, I'm sorry about all the problems we've been having but--okay. I think I'm still connected
here, okay. Okay, just one last thing I wanna do. I wanna--let me go to the end here, and--oh,
not that one.
I just wanna mention something. The one--the first article diagram listed there by Michiko
Kakutani, I guess I pronounced that person's name, Yagri [phonetic], and that was a really
good article. It appeared in last Sunday's New York Times and those are the URL. You
know, I really recommend it. You know, [inaudible], yeah, yeah, I read this article. But he really
does a good job of sort of synthesizing a lot of, I would call, problems that people
have identified with the way we interact with information now. And he talks about a lot
of different--I don't know if he or she, he talks about a lot of different problems that
I call the dark side of e-reading's future. He cites several people who've talked about
how reading has become increasingly marginalized by our culture and society. There's a whole
question of intellectual property, who owns what. There are several people that are wondering
if we're just sort of mashing up and remixing sort of cannibalizing our culture and engaging
in navel-gazing. I already mentioned how a lot of people are getting into the habit of
criticizing before even as they read not after. And this whole idea of the hive mind that
communal thinking to social networking and online collectivism may not be the best for
us as a species. So, I want to thank everybody for attending online today. And I'm offering
a minutes for Q and A, but I know you guys got other things to do, and we're already
running a little bit late. But I'll turn off my mic here and let people ask questions if
they want.
You know, when you're doing the technical stuff, some people were summarizing your talk
and brought up the point that their ILS' and OPAC's are having difficult time integrating
with the content. So, I'm curios with the kinds of journeys and technical problems that
the libraries have dealing with this mushy new kind of content, and what you've seen
about that, and if you have any advice or comments or what do you think about that.
Yeah, it's really tough for libraries because, you know, we can't--if you're an individual
consumer, you can say, "Well, I know that Kindle is a closed system, but by golly, it
works, it meets my needs, and so, every else still hang." Libraries can't do that. They
have to be sort of device and system agnostic. And we sort to have a long tail of technology
in libraries too where, you know, we still have, you know, ATRAC tape and microfilm and
microfiche and microforms, microcards in still some libraries. So, it's a real challenge
for libraries to really provide access to all these technology. I guess the bottom line
is, with all those, oops--
Anybody still hearing me? Tom [inaudible], anybody hearing me?
Okay, great. So--yeah, this is tough for libraries to--the nature of digital information is you
have to have some sort of access device. This is such a rapid development, evolution of
access devices that poor libraries really have a hard time providing access to all these
stuff, and are gonna have a difficult time, you know, years spent when we've move--we've
collectively move on Kindles, but there's all those Kindle editions sort of floating
around there that people wanna get access to. It's really a big problem for libraries.
It is a big problem for libraries. And it's always been a problem whenever you need any
kind of technology or device to access information.
You know, Tom, I have a quick question for you, now that you're on, people may not realize
that one of the reasons we're doing digital collections in the course beside the fact
that, you know, it's an interesting way to gather and capture the information, is in
support of a conference series that you're doing. And our original intentions was to
have a set of resources, and to give the students a task that was, you know, real world that
they would create a set of resources that would be interesting to people who are attending
your conferences. So, we have three digital collections and development. We're just in
the middle of the second one. And I'm curious, if you were to offer digital collections to
your conference, what would they be like? How would they be used? How would people use
these in your conferences because these students here online are the ones generating a real
world examples in usable digital collections, so--
Yeah, that's a real good question, and sort of two thoughts come to mind. First thought
is I think we're still kinda trying to figure out what online conferencing is good for and
sort of what the affordances of it are. And as we often deal with it, when something new
comes along, we sort of just try to translate what we know or transform what we know--transport
what we know to the new technology. And so, a lot of online conferences basically follow
the same basic format of an in-person conference. We have the opening keynote speaker and then
we have a panel session, and we have the session on this, we have breakout sessions. And I
think that as we get farther into this, online conferences are gonna sort of develop or take
off on a tangent of their own and no longer and I--when we work on these conferences world,
you make conversation with people about, well, what can we do a little bit differently that
would be very difficult or impossible of doing an in-person conference or what to do online
and sort of add value to it. So, I really like the idea of, you know, making it not
only some guy talking to you [laughter] like I've been doing this evening, but more, you
know, sharing resource. A little of this happened already tonight where people are sharing URLs
and providing information. And so it's more of a multimodal interaction. Yeah, Lori's
telling me. I mean there's just a lot of different ways of doing things where you can do, you
know, you could show like 20 slides in 20 seconds per slide, 20 slides kinda rapid fire
kind of presentation, not this long one that I have been giving you tonight. You're sort
of speaking through what works and what works online in a way. And we're gonna try this
thing in the digital world. The other thing that comes to mind is, I've--as I mentioned,
I've been involved in this Unabridged downloadable audiobook service, and one thing that people
really like about the service is that we're able to offer the audiobooks at the same time
that the print books become available. So, the release date is the same. And so, blind
or low vision users really, they line up to get immediate access to the collections. And
I sort of gotten--I've generated eyer and some of my colleagues when I've comment in
the past that if we as a profession only spent a tenth of the energy and time that we spend
on archival issues, you know, how to make sure that we have access to information if
not in perpetuity for as long as possible, if we spend a tenth of that in trying to get
the information out there as quickly as possible, as an indication with these audiobooks becoming
available, right, when the printed books are available, that would be a great service.
And so the kind of immediacy, you know, I sort of talking about the dark aspect of you
know we rush to judgment, if you will, we don't even actually finish the sentence and
we say, "Oh, I don't agree with that", or you don't finish the novel before you're criticizing
the novel or discussing with your friends and colleagues. But I think also there's immediate
access to content is definitely where, you know, a lot of people are really appreciating
that kind of thing. And as I mentioned also the fact that you can download a Kindle Edition
and on these other portable e-book devices in less than a minute. The first time I did
that I thought, all of us [inaudible] or something, it was so fast. But I think we're kinda used
to having that immediate access to information through online copies. But I'd really like
the idea of not only having people talk to you in slide sets but also other types of
resources that are available to you, sort of like mini collections developed for conferences,
I mean great idea.
Well, Tom and Lori. Lori, do you wanna wrap up or do you want me to summarize?
Sure. And then you add your thoughts. Tom, thank you very much. It's--I think it's an
exciting future, but the problem is that it's really hard to keep up. I know I've been trying
to keep up with technology for 15 years or so and there's just more and more out there,
and it changes so quickly. As I said before, we're gonna have an online conference May
11th on e-books and audiobooks that Tom is organizing and you can attend for free. And
I'll send that information out to the group as we get closer to the date. So, thank you
very much Tom and thank you, Jeremy for your great questions and the class for great discussion.
I'll turn it back to you, Jeremy.