Digital Futures: adapting to new e-environments conference

On Thursday 22nd October the 9th Annual E-Books Conference was held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This event felt timely due to the recent increase in dedicated mass-market e-book readers available on the market and the proliferation of large screen smart ‘phones, such as the iphone.

The first presentation, for which Colin Galloway kindly stepped in to present as Linda Bennett was unfortunately unavailable due to illness, gave an overview of the changes that the book market is currently undergoing.

Liam Earney, of JISC, presented on the JISC national e-books observatory project which aims to explore the way that e-books are used and the impacts that they have. The study was carried as the demand amongst academic librarians for unlimited concurrent and perpetual access to e-texts for their students creates concern amongst publishers that their future revenues will be destroyed as students purchase fewer of the “core” textbooks.

David Pattern of Huddersfield University Library rounded things off before lunch with a lively presentation on OPAC 2 and beyond which looked at how library professionals can seek to make their online catalogues more in tune with their users experience of the web by simplfying the front end and adding more web 2.0 type tools to enhance their experience and increase the access to the data held by libraries. This has to be a priority if e-books are to constitute a higher proportion of a libraries stock in the future as, without the physical prescence, if they are not easily available to students, they are effectively invisible.

After lunch, representatives of suppliers (Springer, Dawson and OCLC) discussed what they are doing to make e-books more available to users and some interesting experiments with different payment models which could, hopefully, increase access to information for users.

To round the afternoon off, Dan Franklin, Digital Editor of Canongate gave a thought-provoking presentation on the future of e-publishing, with specific reference to the ability of digital devices to provide a multi-media experience, which is undoubtedly more exciting than simply replicating the printed word on an electronic screen. This was highlighted with the demonstration of writer and musician Nick Cave’s new novel, which is available in print, electronically and as an iphone app.

Update: Slideshows from this event are now available in the scottishlibraries slideshare account.

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