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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
E-Book Currents: A Pulse
E-books in Libraries
Many libraries have been offering their patrons e-books in portable readers. Only 20 e-books were initially available. They included bestsellers by Stephen King, John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark, and romance and science fiction novels. Readers can usually check out e-book titles at no charge, but those who damage the e-book readers lent by the libraries can be charged up to $450 as a replacement fee. There is often a minimal $2 late fee, however, designed to encourage on-time returns needed to meet the anticipated high public demand. Roseanne Byrne, deputy director of the Dakota County, Minnesota Libraries says that "E-books aren't for everybody, but as new formats are introduced, we bring them ...'' Unlike regular books, the e-book readers must be returned in person to the same library branch from which they were borrowed. The plastic carrying case of the readers is too big to fit down the 24-hour book return chutes. Photo ID and a library card are necessary to borrow e-books. Parents must give consent to borrowers 17 and younger. More experiences are gained daily as school, public, and academic libraries provide access to new formats usually a variety of tools, access and new products.
E-book Collection Management
Blackwell's Book Services has announced integration of e-books into their Web-based collection development and acquisitions tools. The change is designed to make it easier for libraries to order e-books as part of their regular work activity. Orders for netLibrary e-books can be entered into the system and the status of orders can be reviewed, as with print books. Faculty and library selectors can use the system to create requests for any title, adding notes and other ordering information. Titles can also be put on hold for later review. With the e-book integration, Blackwell customers will be able to search for e-book titles using criteria, such as ISBN and LCCN, or using search by keyword, title, author, publisher, or series title. For each title, Blackwell's customers will have access to detailed bibliographic information, including series title, alternative editions, publications status, current list prices, and publisher. netLibrary e-book titles will also be displayed as alternative editions when Blackwell's customers review title information for print books. It is likely that other book suppliers will be offering e-book content along with print very soon, as libraries are becoming more interested in providing the medium.
Ads Moving Into E-books
An e-book novella about Sachel Paige, a former African-American baseball pitcher, is being offered at the LiveReads Web site (www.livereads.com). The e-book includes an interactive trivia game, history of Negro League Baseball, rare photographs, authentic video footage, and advertisements. This is not an isolated case of advertising content within e-books.
A Web company called Underground E.com offers a book format that provides numerous links to Web sites containing trivia, reference material and advertising material associated with words and phrases in the e-book text. The references are sold to advertisers on a pay-per-click basis. E-book readers will not be able to distinguish sponsored links from other links in these books. UndergroundE expects to sell ad space in classic texts such as Hamlet and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
In April, eBookNet.com, a popular Web site that provided e-book news and discussion, was closed down. The owner of eBookNet, Gemstar, is a major participant in the e-book marketplace as owner of the most popular portable e-book viewing devices and of numerous e-book copyrights. Gemstar had supported eBookNet as a means of increasing public awareness of e-books, but now feels that awareness levels are very high, and that their resources must be focused on acquiring e-book technology and content.
Earthweb has decided to get out of the e-book business and concentrate its efforts on its dice.com and MeasureUp information technology career services. Earthweb's ITKnowledge e-book service had sold e-books on information technology, programming, the Internet, networking, and related topics. The ITKnowledge service was subscribed to by a number of libraries and many were upset by the abrupt ending of the service, which is seen as another example of the lack of long-term archival commitment by services that provide electronic information. When making refunds for subscriptions already paid, Earthweb has decided not to prorate for that part of their service that libraries has already received. Most libraries subscribed to ITKnowledge beginning in September.
E-textbooks and the Campus Environment
Pearson Education, part of Pearson plc, is working with the MetaText division of netLibrary to create hundreds of e-book versions of Pearson college-level textbooks during the next 12 months. In addition, Pearson plans to make 100 e-textbooks available through a program, CourseCompass, which allows educators to customize Pearson materials and combine them with local faculty-selected and produced materials. CourseCompass is designed for educators who do not consider themselves to be technologically sophisticated.
McGraw-Hill Higher Education has also allied itself with MetaText to develop e-textbook versions of existing textbooks. Beginning in 2001 e-textbooks in such fields as economics, accounting, communications, English, biology, anatomy and physiology, and geoscience, will be produced. The e-textbooks will be available to professors and students through classroom Web sites. Students using the Web sites will be able to view instructions and notes, take tests, and link to related Web sites.
Online College E-Bookstore Opens
Follett Higher Education, operator of over 350 college bookstores, has opened an online bookstore (www.efollett.com) that offers students hundreds of e-books in Microsoft Reader format. The titles seem to be mainly for supplementary or recreational reading, rather than textbooks. Book descriptions are provided, but there are no reviews, no excerpts and there is no author information. Current titles sell at discounts from paper book prices.
E-book Reader for College Students
Bestselling textbook titles from Harcourt College Publishers are becoming available for the goReader, a portable e-book display device designed specifically for students. The goReader has a 7.3 × 9.7 inch high-resolution color display and provides students with multi-color highlighting, note taking and bookmarking, as well as navigation through e-book titles and text. The device can hold more than 350 textbooks and can display graphs, tables and formulas. Starting in the summer of 2001, 40 Harcourt textbook titles will become available for the goReader.
Grade School E-books
McGraw-Hill is testing interactive versions of middle school science textbooks through pilot programs at schools such as the Celebration School in Celebration, Florida. Several such e-textbooks are to be ready for use by the Fall semester of 2001. The e-textbooks alone will sell for the same price as the print versions. If both versions are purchased, there will be a 40 percent discount on the e-textbook version. Parents can buy access to an e-textbook for $4.95 per month, with a discount when access to several e-textbooks is purchased. Related Web tools provided by McGraw-Hill allow teachers to create Web pages, track student grades, and set up an online calendar.
As part of a Digital School District program in Pennsylvania, students in the 3rd through 12th grades of schools in the Quaker Valley School District, Allegheny County, will each receive a wireless notebook computer and an e-book. Learning from this experience may inspire other districts and educators to participate in launching this technology more widely.
The Lightspan Network (www.lightspan.com) has a reference center designed for the needs of K-8 students. The Reference Center features an online version of the 29-volume Funk&Wagnall's Multimedia Encyclopedia, with alphabetical article index, category index, and indexed media gallery. Also available is a library of e-reference books for students to use in school or at home.
A multimedia e-textbook called eCommerce, and authored by digital business experts Jeffrey Rayport and Bernie Jaworski, has been adopted by 59 business schools, including the Stern School at New York University, the Haas School at the University of California, and the Darden School at the University of Virginia. eCommerce is accompanied by a compilation of 59 Harvard Business School case studies, which are revised every 30 days. The e-textbook is available from McGraw-Hill Primus Online (www.mhhe.com/primis) and is implemented through online resources, including an online tutorial, case and lecture updated multimedia materials, live news feeds, case studies, interviews with new economy leaders, access to current full-text articles, quizzes, glossaries and exercises.
E-books continue to find their way into areas where they can serve readers in more enhanced ways than via print books.
An e-book by interior designer, Joseph Barbotti, walks readers through all the steps to determine where furniture and home accessories should be placed. Called "The Perfect Placement System", this e-book uses photographs and drawings to convey the process that professional designers use. Designing Online, Inc., an online services and resource center for interior decorating and interior design, is offering the book, which can be downloaded from its Web site (www.designingonline.com) for $7.95.
Four medical reference e-books that can be keyword searched are now available as modules for handheld computers. Included are the 2001 Physicians' Desk Reference, published by Thomson Healthcare, the Medical Letter's Handbook of Adverse Drug Interactions, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine Companion Handbook from McGraw-Hill, and The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. The modules are available at the Franklin Web site (www.franklin.com) and the PalmGear Web site (www.palmgear.com/hs). Memory cards for the Palm m500 series include a Dictionary/Thesaurus Card that combines Merriam-Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary with the Franklin American English Thesaurus. A PalmPak Translator Card includes Franklin's English-French, English-Italian, English-German, and English-Spanish bi-directional translators. These titles are among over 24 million e-books that Franklin has sold.
Hungry Minds à la Carte (http://alacarte.hungryminds.com) is a new service that lets users mix and match content from selected titles to create customized e-books. These e-books can then be downloaded or ordered printed and bound. Customers are charged by the chapter, with prices varying according to book size, original title prices and format. E-books will be available within minutes of purchase, while bound paper books ship within 48 hours.
Live Math Books
MathSoft Engineering & Education, Inc. (www.mathcad.com), a provider of math, science and engineering software, is offering eight free e-books for users of its Mathcad software. All computations in these e-books are live and interactive. The titles include Applied Statistics, Astronomical Formulas, Building Thermal Analysis, Materials and Energy Balances, Personal Finance, Real World Math, Electrical Engineering and Visual Electromagnetics.
Internet Information E-books
In autumn 2001 Random House will release the e-book, Dr Ian Smith's Guide to Medical Web sites. Other featured e-books titles will include Miss Vera's Resource Guide for Boys Who Want to Be Girls and Carl Sherman's How to Go to Therapy, both of which will have links to Internet sites.
New E-book Software and Hardware
Ebook 2.2 software provides the ability to read e-books on handheld computers. The software can read many different types of text files used on Psion and Palm computers. It displays pages rapidly, scrolls, manages bookmarks and can copy text to the handheld clipboard memory. Ebook 2.2 costs £10 and is available from www.geocities.com/ebookepoc
Multilingual versions of the eBook Man portable reading device are now available to allow reading of e-books in French and German as well as in English. The new eBookMan, like previous versions, can also play audio books. However, a five-hour audio book takes 19MB of memory and the largest-memory version of eBookMan offers only 18MB. For $40, users can install a card with an additional 16MB. Franklin Electronic Publishers, the producer of eBookMan, expects to give their readers the ability to display e-books in Microsoft Reader format by mid-2001.
eInk in 2003?
Like current computer displays, eInk displays are electrically activated to display words and images, but eInk can be printed on nearly any surface. Thus eInk displays can be thinner than present displays, and they are also brighter and glare free. The promise is that, with eInk, e-book reading devices will be easier to handle than present devices. Phillips Components has exclusive rights to sell eInk devices and believes that devices should be ready for use by consumers by 2003.
New Palms Come with E-books
New versions of Palm handheld computers are being shipped with Palm Reader software and two e-books installed. The e-books are Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and 12 Valuable Ways to Use Your Palm. Formerly known as Peanut Reader, Palm Reader software got its new name when Palm, Inc. recently purchased Peanut Press. The deal includes a Web-based storefront (www.peanutpress.com) containing a growing list of about 2,000 titles from most of the major US publishing houses. The average price of a Palm e-book is about $7. Prices range from as low as $2-$3 for short stories and some older books, to as much as $20-$25 for some current bestsellers.