David Woodbury and I will talk about the history of ebook reader programs, the current program, and future projects involving ebook readers at NCSU Libraries. We have several models of ebook readers on-hand, including the iPod Touch, Kindle2, Kindle DX, Sony Touch, a Nook, and for nostalgia, first generation Rocket and Softbook readers. Lauren Upchurch will help answer questions about the administration of the NCSU Libraries Technology Lending Service.
Books are born digital. Ebook Readers & paper books are just ways to display digital content. Libraries are aggregators of digital files. Beyond the free resources of the Internet are library-mediated paid resources like scholarly journals, ebooks, full-text & bibliographic databases, data files, etc. Libraries, Google and other institutions are busy scanning vast quantities of print so that resources are increasingly available as digital files. Library users read these resources on display screens or by printing digital content on paper.
At the end of the 20th Century the first generation of eBook readers appeared offering the possibility of a portable device with a configurable library. They used a LCD touch screen but available content was limited. Titles were downloaded from the Internet to the user’s computer, then uploaded to the device. Proprietary formats & Digital Rights Management (or DRM) made sharing titles impossible. In 1999 the NCSU Libraries purchased several Rocket eBooks and Softbooks, loaded a small collection of best sellers onto each device and checked them out. At the time we considered the project an evaluation of new technology. Nationally, Electronic Book Conferences were held, Open Ebook standards were created, but users never accepted these reading devices, and the industry merged and died.
E-Paper readers started making their appearance with the Sony LIBRIé, introduced in Japan in 2006. It had all the drawbacks of 1st Gen readers but it had an E-paper display that forms visible images by rearranging charged pigment particles using an applied electric field. The screen is viewed with reflected light, and only uses power to reformat the page display. Amazon’s Kindle was released in late 2007 using this same display technology but combining it with direct wireless delivery over a phone network and Amazon’s book marketing skills. In November 2007 Sparta Public Library in New Jersey purchased a few of the new Kindles and started loaning them out to their users.
In March 2008 the NCSU Libraries ordered three Amazon Kindles and two Sony Ebook Readers. Our initial goals were to provide the technology to NCSU users & to see if it was a way to supplement existing collections with popular on-demand titles. Amazon Kindles were chosen for an on-demand service & Sonys were used for collections of classic titles. We now have 36 Kindles and 2 Sony Readers available for loan.
Here is a short video showing the process for reserving a Kindle.
A sampling of NC State ebook users shows that just over 54% are undergraduates. Seniors with 27% represent about half of undergraduate use. Sophomore and Junior use is about the same. And Freshmen are the smallest percentage of users. After Seniors, Graduate Students are the second largest group with 23%. Faculty and Staff account for about 21% of use.
The NCSU Libraries buys on average 28 user-selected titles per month. Purchasing was suspended for 6 months during last year’s fiscal crisis. The Average cost for Kindle-formatted titles is $10.20.
Kindle titles at the NCSU Libraries are pretty evenly divided with almost 53% Fiction and 47% Nonfiction.
Amazon uses very general genres & categories. The titles purchased are here broken down by fiction genres and nonfiction categories. I don’t see any patterns here but many are new and popular titles.
People ask if the project is working. One measure is whether the Kindles are providing access to titles that the print collection is not. Only 15% of the titles requested for purchase on a Kindle were available in print in the library when requested. 85% of the titles were either not owned in print or the print copy was checked out to someone. The Kindle Loaning program has met a need for titles in a cost effective manner.
Print Availability<br />At time of purchase, only 15% of Kindle titles available in print @ NCSU Libraries<br />
Why use an eBook Reader?<br />Easy to get titles not otherwise available from the Libraries<br />Text is easier to read on these devices<br />Can load a wide variety of text content<br />PDFs<br />ePub<br />DRMed<br />Devices connect easily to lots of content<br />
Drawbacks of eBook Readers<br />E-ink technology is still new<br />Black and white (for now)<br />Slow to refresh<br />Devices fail (paper doesn’t)<br />Readers and purchased books are tied to specific vendors and file types<br />Expensive<br />Can’t do everything a netbook or iPod Touch can do<br />
Free content for ereaders! <br />Google Books books.google.com<br />Also works on mobile devices: www.books.google.com/m<br />Project Gutenberg www.gutenberg.org<br />Springer Library & Morgan & Claypool Synthesis (via www.lib.ncsu.edu)<br />
eBook Reader apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad<br />Stanza - www.lexcycle.com (free)<br />Great for reading materials in all DRM-free formats <br />Kindle - www.amazon.com (free)<br />Good for Amazon content but everything is DRMed, syncs to Amazon<br />Barnes & Noble eReader - www.bn.com (free)<br />Good for B&N content, syncs to B & N<br />iBooks (for iPad)<br />Apple’s new eBook store<br />CourseSmartwww.coursesmart.com<br />Textbook ereader<br />
Next Generation Reading?<br />BlioeReader software blioreader.com<br />Multiple device support<br />Vook interactive eBooks www.vook.com<br />Includes video content embedded within the text <br />