Introduction to Academic E-Books [chapter]

Suzanne M. Ward, Robert S. Freeman, Judith M. Nixon
Academic E-Books  
Introduction Academic librarians have planned for, experimented with, and generally been waiting for the e-book revolution as a solution to many library challenges and for the advantages the e-book provides to users. Unlike its print counterpart, an e-book can never be lost, marked-up or worn out. It does not take up any shelf space, so saves the overhead on the building. It does not require a staff member (or self-check kiosk) to check it out or to check it back into the library. Student
more » ... ants are not needed to reshelve it or to make sure it is on the right shelf and in the right order. Just the savings in staff time of scanning the bar codes for an inventory and re-shelving the misshelved books make e-books very attractive to librarians. Another advantage is that librarians do not even need to purchase e-books before users begin to check them out. Instead they can load the catalog records into the online catalog and wait to see which books are borrowed; then pay after there has been demonstrated use. The e-book has great advantages for the users also. In many cases, an e-book can be checked out by multiple users at the same time and is available wherever and whenever the user needs it. However, perhaps the most valuable advantage is that every single word and phrase in an e-book is searchable. Indexing systems, library online catalogs and search engines like Google Books now help users find, or discover, the content inside e-books. The reader does not need to know which book has the information needed, instead he can use a search engine and go to the exact page and sentence with a few clicks. With so many advantages, it seems logical that librarians would be eager to switch from purchasing books in print to embrace the electronic format. However the transition to e-books in academic libraries has not been a smooth or quick one and the reasons are myriad and complicated. Aware that this is still a time of transition and that there are many issues surrounding the e-book, the editors set out to present the state of e-books in academic libraries today. They invited knowledgeable publishers and librarians to write about the current challenges, successes, and trends. In addition, there is a section that analyzes new data about user interaction with e-books and an essay written by a teaching faculty member who uses and encourages her student to use ebooks. Literature Review To set the stage, a literature review is in order to identify the challenges facing the e-book revolution. The major problems can be summed up in two statements: (1) lack of sufficient content and (2) users' stated preference for printed books in many cases. Although time will eventually solve the lack of content problem, librarians still face the issue that many users prefer printed books. The reasons for this preference are complicated, but the literature suggests that the primary reason is that in-depth reading of an e-book is difficult, partly because of poor interfaces, but primarily because the ebook is not a printed book. Background on e-books and e-readers
doi:10.2307/j.ctt1wf4ds0.4 fatcat:ggz42skdxve4floh3jzstclvdu