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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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    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    What other people have been saying...

    if:book, in ideal ulysses and ideal ulysses, part two, has been listing the possible advantages of a social or wiki version of great works such as those by Joyce or Dostoevsky. These might include a "thorough word and phrase glossary with a snappy and intuitive mechanism for getting to it directly from the text"; and "the explanation of references — literary, linguistical, historical, personal, social, political. ideally each of these categories would be represented in some unique way, so that readers can turn specific layers on or off at will" (both of these with a mechanism for people to 'question and challenge'). This is not necessarily what all books should look like (!) - but it would be a wonderful resource for those who want to read a difficult book with a degree of understanding.

    In the future of print?, if:book report on their experiences of a print-on-demand espresso machine - not great, if I read their comments correctly. It took about 20 minutes to produce a crudely-bound 160-page book, which looked, well, cheap:
    like a cheap paperback. My copy wasn't quite cut right and there's a little spur of excess paper rising from the top right corner, which gives it a modicum of uniqueness. Like the other Open Content-printed books that I've seen, the print isn't wonderful: they seem to be working from screen-resolution scans of the books, and they appear notably grainy when printed. It looks very much like a book that someone photocopied on a copier with the contrast set a bit too high. But like a photocopied book, it's certainly legible. It's worth pointing out that this grainy quality is a function of the scan rather than the machine.
    In Bourne Again: If an author can be dead, why can’t print?, Print is Dead noted that despite his death in 2001, Robert Ludlum continues to produce novels - 12 since 2001! The point they made is that
    if consumers don’t seem to care that an author is dead, which proves that they only want the content — the characters, the stories, the experience — then they also won’t care how that content is delivered. After all, if they don’t mind the missing presence of the actual Robert Ludlum (a living, breathing person) then they certainly won’t miss the presence of the book itself...
    ... which is an interesting thought, although perhaps not one yet bourne out (sorry) by experience.

    TeleRead has a review of the Nokia N800 as an e-book reader: A review and some FBReader tips, and also, in ‘Your Cheatin’ Listenin’ Ways’: Audio books vs. text, asks whether it is
    cheating to hear a book rather than read it? That’s grist for a New York Times article on audio books vs. the text variety.
    Finally, Panlibus looks at "The idea of allowing ordinary people to edit library catalogues". Richard Wallis notes that the BBC's Giles Turnbull has picked up on the launch of the Open Library, which has the
    goal to build the world's greatest library, then put it up on the Internet free for all to use and edit. Books are the place you go when you have something you want to share with the world -- our planet's cultural legacy. And never has there been a bigger attempt to bring them all together.
    However, Turnbull is not so sure:
    There are tons of books out there and tons of information about those books. There's no way even a large group of librarians is going to be able to collect it all.
    and Stephen Bury, Head of European and American Collections at the British Library, whom he interviewed, is not so sure about it either:
    "In the short term, I don't think we will send them a copy of our catalogue. We only have limited resources and we need them to concentrate their efforts on our own digitisation projects,"
    Faced with a BL head who is "not keen on the idea of allowing ordinary people to edit library catalogues themselves". Richard Wallis adds:
    The fear of ordinary people changing things - it is a good job Jimmy Wales, Tim Spalding and others didn't let that stop them.

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