E-book readers and the library's role
Online bookshops (Bol.com, Amazon.com) and other vendors promote the use of E-book readers. They make these investments presumably because they feel that the time is ripe and E-book readers may become a normal piece of consumer electronics. In the past the library has purchased a number of readers to make users aware of these upcoming developments. Now that electronic bookshops and others are investing in e-book readers we feel that they should support their general use. Wageningen UR Library will concentrate on tips and best practices how to use the electronic books and journal articles that we make accessible in de digital library on the most popular e-book readers.
Issues using library material on e-book readers
Electronic bookshops provide their books and journals in different technical formats and different readers support different formats. For an overview of formats and hardware / software that supports it see the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats . The bookshops have chosen other formats than the PDF format that is predominant for scientific journals and electronic books. So PDF support of different readers is an important feature for us.
Electronic bookshops organize to some extent on the e-book reader the content that was bought in their store. If one reads other material it is important that the e-book reader allows the user to give items meaningful names and possibly store them in different folders.
Readers that we have looked at
- Sony reader (PRS-600)
- Reading PDF's: There is full support including zooming and the use of the PDF Table of Content (press the "options" button) Good searching options, annotating PDF's is not possible
- Organizing documents: Upon import PDF's get a name generated by the e-book library program on the user's computer. This name can neither be changed on the reader nor on the computer. Documents can be stored in collections with user-assigned names, so a work-around could be to create a separate collection with a meaningful name for each item
- Amazon Kindle (Kindle 2 International)
- Reading PDF's: Before November 2009 there was no PDF support on the Kindle 2 (although there were third party programs available). There is a software update now that gives some support. The first version did not allow zooming, but versions from 2.5 onwards do. Users often resolve to reading in 'landscape' orientation if a document is not readable in 'portrait' . For embedded pictures there is a zooming option. Searching and annotating PDF's is not supported.
- Organizing documents: PDF's keep the name that they have on the user's computer; there is no way of renaming files on the reader. There is no way to organize documents in folders
- iRex iLiad
Note that the Dutch company iRex had to file for bankruptcy in June 2010. It has been announced that the company will be relaunched as "IRX". According to some reports the new company will quit the consumer segment and will concentrate on the business and enterprise segment.
- Reading PDF's: PDF is supported and zooming possible. The Table of Content of the PDF file can not be viewed (this feature has been announced for future software releases). Searching PDF's and making annotations (using the stylus) is possible
- Organizing documents: PDF files keep the same name as on the computer from which they have been copied. It is possible to create subfolders on the iLiad
- iPhone and iPad (tested: iPhone 3G and iPad wifi 64GB)
(Most things work the same for iPad and iPhone, so we deal with them under one heading)
- Reading PDF's: Different applications offer different levels of PDF support, for some applications (like Mail and Safari) the support is rather basic. For documents from the electronic library special reader apps (such as Goodreader or PDF Reader) are advisable. They usually come with a free 'lite' version, the full versions may cost around € 0,79. These readers support zooming and give access to the table of contents if the PDF contains one.
- Organizing documents: Users can assign meaningful names to items. Goodreader and PDF reader allow to tranfer documents to subfolders on the iPad / iPhone. Note that these subdirectories or not accessible from iTunes.
- Transferring files: The most straightforward way to transfer files to iPhone / iPad is downloading them and use iTunes for transfer. In iTunes select the 'Apps' tab. For applications that allow file sharing a folder structure appears (for the iPad to the right, for the iPhone underneath) where one can drag and drop files. Note that for the iPhone OS version 4 is required.
A couple of vendors have developed Apps for their products. They provide an alternative route to access library materials. Search in the Apps store or iTunes for example for "PubMed on Tap" (both iPad and iPhone), Scopus Alerts lite (iPhone) or ScienceDirect (iPhone). Pubmed on Tap can give access to the full text of journals that WUR library subscribes to. Specify in Settings > Library Proxy the following string: http://ezproxy.library.wur.nl/login?url=%@
An e-book reader is a personal reading device and therefore we do not see any legal contraints for the use of e-book readers with the licensed material that we give access to. The word 'reader' is sometimes used in an entirely different sense, i.e. a collection of printed articles that is used for teaching. There are certainly legal constraints for such a use of licensed materials; see http://library.wur.nl/copyright/ (in Dutch)
Do you have experiences? Please share
Analysts expect that e-book technology will evolve and new types of readers have already been announced. The library could buy them all for test purposes but we prefer to spend those funds on the collection instead. If you are using a type of e-book reader that we have not covered yet please contact us, and share your experiences.Post a comment
View all comments
|Wageningen Digital Library, 1 September 2010|