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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, April 07, 2006

    e-books in libraries ARE libraries

    e-Book readers - not the readers of e-books, but the handheld devices on which e-books can be read - offer huge potential for libraries. I have been looking at the iRex Technologies iLiad, which can hold up to 200 books - academic and school libraries could lend their students entire reading lists to take home, for example.
    But of course the licensing and the digital rights management (DRM) have to be worked out. Books downloaded onto readers have to be encrypted or users could simply pass them on. From what I can tell iRex seem to have this worked out quite well - and their iLiad is reportedly not going to be limited to a single format (like PDF). According to a post on panlibus, the Sony reader has issues in its DRM system - the post quotes Berlind's comments:
    “But, chances are, just as with music sales, book publishers will want their content locked down before it can be digitized and released on the Net. So, if Sony's e-book reader is to Apple's iPod. And Sony's ebook C.R.A.P. [Content, Restriction, Annulment, and Protection, Berlind's pejorative term for DRM] is to Apple's music and video C.R.A.P. And Sony opens an online bookstore that's akin to Apple's [iTunes Music Store], well, you can see where this is heading (in addition to 'away' from brick and mortar bookstores like Borders not to mention how proprietary C.R.A.P. will wreak havoc on the library system). Is this a deal with the devil?”
    Publishers DO need to protect their rights - and developers of hand-held e-book readers need to work with publishers or they will simply not get any content. Having said that, let me also say that publishers have to work with the developers to ensure that we don't end up with readers that are limited to only one publisher or only one format. That would be a very singular interpretation of Clifford lynch's e-libraries.

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