Friday, February 15, 2008

Impress Your Professor: Future of alternative book formats

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah and I'm the new Vice Chair of ASIST. Have you heard the buzz this week about the future of alternative book formats (i.e. non print books)? Two big stories caught my ear...

1. Amazon announced its purchase of two weeks ago. is the largest provider of ‘audio entertainment’, a term that encompasses audio books as well as radio programs and audio editions of newspapers and magazines. The combination of this acquisition and the recent launch of Kindle (a handheld device for reading electronic books) indicates that Amazon is, if not anticipating a new direction for books, at least hedging its bets.

I’ve gotta say that, as a reader, I’m totally old school—give me paper any day. My dad uses and loves it, but I have a tendency to tune out and miss whole chapters. Check out ALA Techsource, as they muse a bit on our collective history as listeners. I’ve never used Kindle myself, but I have used Mobipocket (also owned by Amazon), a platform for ebooks that is compatible with almost any handheld device (or even just your computer). The books are cheap, which is nice, but oy! Eyestrain! Reading 500 pages on a computer screen is rough, despite upping the font size. Kindle’s ‘electronic paper’ display is supposed to eliminate that problem—has anyone tried it? Let me know!

2. Harper Collins, as part of some new marketing experiment, is offering free access to a few digital books. I’d love to see the results of this campaign. Does free online access increase sales? Decrease sales? I’d imagine it would depend on the type of book—fiction, non-fiction, reference, etc.

You don’t even have to register for this service, and the complete book is right there online! Downloading and printing are verboten, but you can search the full text and submit reader reviews. Each book is only available for one month. I can't wait for the Neil Gaiman book to be posted! Check it out!


Sheryl said...

Nice Post on "Impress Your Professor: Future of alternative book formats" Thank you.
Audio Books

aart hilal said...

well – what people don't know is that Harper Collins only launched this free online reading site after the bestselling author Paulo Coelho revealed his pirate coelho blog to the world during the DLD conference in Munich last January.
I read the interveiw he gave for Newsweek and can't help to join the dots:
I doubt Harper Collins would have made such a move without this author's pressure.
Thumbs up for Pirate Coelho!

Sarah said...

Wow, I didn't know that about Paulo Coelho--very interesting. Thanks aart hilal!