Working in a digital age: eBooks come of age

This year, the SLIC/MMITS/SCURL e-books conference, ‘Working in a digital age’ celebrates its 10th anniversary in the magnificent setting of the University of Edinburgh University’s Playfair Library on October 21st.

Over the past ten years the Conference has explored, debated and discussed e-resource developments and concepts as diverse as digital literacy, podcasting and e-marketing your library. Could it be that e-books popularity is now heading towards a critical mass brought about by  changes in technology that offer individuals greater power to choose? In recent years the Conference focus has widened to include eBook use across the sectors boosted by advances in handheld technology and the growth in ownership of mobile devices.

The Guardian recently reported that American bookseller, Barnes and Noble were planning to increase investment in e-books following a shares drop of 16% attributed to a ‘shift in literary tastes from books to digital reading devices.’  Here in Scotland South Ayrshire Council Libraries last week became the first Council to offer a free downloadable ‘eBooks service’ giving access to around 200 full text electronic versions of titles covering adult, children, fiction and non-fiction.  ‘I wanted it, I read it’ wrote Phil Bradley on his weblog, referring to the advantages of downloading e-books to his iPad and iphone using the Kindle app to enable reading on the move.

Last weekend Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford,  published a thinkpiece linking eBooks to iphone and ipad apps to suggest that the whole idea of what a book can do is about to change offering authors and publishers ‘ a huge challenge to reconceive their content to provide a visual and interactive experience.’ Mobile devices open up the possibility of offering readers a richer, deeper understanding of novels.

It’s clear that eBooks have come a long way in the last ten years from a point where we celebrated the ease with which we could search academic texts to the rich experience promised by the meeting of eBooks and mobile phone apps technology. What does it all mean for the library sector?  Come along to our event and join the discussion!


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