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When is the right time for libraries to jump into new technology? January 12, 2010

Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized.
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I just want to follow up on yesterday’s post.  I still think that e-ink solves a problem that never existed.  I think that most people didn’t like reading on computers or phones because they were too big or small to be convenient.  I don’t think anyone said “What I want is less colours and functionality.  I wish I had an electronic device that exploited the latest in etch-a-sketch technology.”

Yet a number of new devices are entering the fray.  Some of which, like the Spring Design Alex, are smart enough to at least use a hybrid design with an LCD and e-ink display that sync together.  The best of which are skipping e-ink all together.  Lenovo has a hybrid device pictured above which is a netbook that has a pop-out tablet device.  I think this is the direction these devices need to move in.

Further bad news piles up for those who jumped in to the e-reader market too soon.  Blindness groups just settled a suit with Kindle because it is very difficult to use for those with disabilities affecting their vision.  Furthermore, there is still the problem that libraries do not own their Kindle titles.  I have heard comparisons between Kindle loans and journal licensing however, I think in the case of journals there really isn’t any choice anymore because of pricing but there is no imperative to outsource a library’s fiction collection just to accommodate a trend.

The first link in this article is to a video that ends by saying that with all these new e-reader devices the biggest loser is paper.  I understand this journalist needed a punchy, clever, conclusive statement to end his piece but I think even if a device does emerge from all this infighting to dominate for a generation or two in the long run all these devices will end up in the Pacific trash island and all their device-dependent content with them and back on the mainland someone will walk into their public library and pull a paper book from the shelf just like their grandparents before them and their grandparents before them.

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How long can the Kindle remain relevant? January 11, 2010

Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized.
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With all the rumours surrounding the imminent release of an Apple-branded tablet computer, how long will the Amazon Kindle remain relevant?  I recently did some group research into ebook readers and we found that a large number of users don’t think that e-ink is worth the inconvenience of dragging around another device; a one-purpose device at that.  We found that many ebook readers instead chose to use the Stanza app for the iPhone (citation forthcoming).  Since users do not seem to mind reading on an LCD display, the only issue with the iPhone is its size.  This rumoured tablet computer seems to fix that problem and it doesn’t seem like the Kindle will be able to compete against the Apple tablet if it is even half as amazing as everyone is expecting it to be.

I really feel sorry for all the libraries that divided head first into the Kindle market especially the school that converted its entire collection over to Kindles.  It reminds me of last week, I was at my library and I was looking through the collection of VHS and cassette tapes and all I could think was these are already not being used and soon they won’t even be able to be used.  By contrast, we pulled out this book from the 1600’s and we could still open it and read it.  We have to really think about these barriers we put to materials when we make them device-dependent.  I think libraries do need to stay ahead of the curve but they also need to be able to analyse a market in order to differentiate between technologies that will shape the future and those that are just a passing fad.