Alongside my more standard geek credentials (web, gadgets, comic books, tv, movies..yadda, yadda, yadda..) I am also a bit of a library geek from way back and all those years at JISC didn’t exactly cure me of that!
So not surprisingly I’ve been following the Amazon Kindle – waiting for both news of a version 2 and some kind of UK release and last week Techcruch had an interesting bit of gossip/speculation regarding Kindle 2.0 and Amazons desire to focus on the text book market for schools/universities. This actually makes real sense to me and I can see a time when uni students will be clutching cloud enabled ebook readers in much the same way as they currently all have laptops.
JISC and JISC Collections have had an interest in this stuff for a while and hosted a debate prior to the JISC Conference around the topic of e-textbooks and also funded the National eBook Observatory project.
I’m not sure ebooks are ever really going to take off for casual readers but for students and researchers and for the higher education institutions themselves (if only in terms of physical space!) I think ebooks have a real future – especially if other publishers take a lead from a recent announcement from O’Reilly.
O’Reilly are now selling ebooks with no DRM and in a bundle of 3 formats (EPUB, PDF, and Kindle-compatible Mobipocket) so that the purchaser can use multiple devices to store and view the ebooks (particularly useful for the student market I would guess?). I think this demonstrates a publisher looking at the mistakes of the music industry and Hollywood in dealing with the digital world and learning from their mistakes and skipping ahead a few iterations to find a workable model even if it is something of a radical move.
Anyway all-in-all I think this is an interesting space to watch and if I get a bit of time one I’d like to learn a bit more about I think as a combination of digital content, cool gadgets, books, higher education and libraries pretty much ticks all my professional interests!