Yesterday, Dan D’Agostino published The strange case of academic libraries and e-books nobody reads. He questions the investment by academic libraries in eBook packages from publishers that can be read only on computer screens. This is unwise, he says, because studies show that people much prefer to read eBooks on eReaders and smart mobile devices (especially iPhones). I’m including a sizable excerpt because it’s so well-written and because it’s close to the bottom of the lengthy article, and might be missed by many readers:

Just as studies were beginning to show that readers will not read extended pieces of text on computer screens and would use these e-book collections simply for searching, not reading, the Kindle and the iPhone arrived. These devices have shown that dedicated e-readers and smart phones are e-book platforms par excellence; they make e-books work. But unfortunately for academic libraries they don’t work with the huge e-book collections they’ve amassed in HTML and PDF (at least not very well). The result being that as the ownership of e-readers and mobiles begins to increase across campuses, the library’s e-book collection is in danger of becoming a very expensive white elephant, underused at best and perhaps already obsolete.

Dan’s article especially caught my attention because two days ago in my article One iPod Touch per Librarian (OITPL), I suggest that libraries would do well to become more involved in the exploding world of reading on mobile devices. I see Dan’s article as a good example of this — In order for us to put pressure on publishers to provide eBooks on mobile platforms, as Dan suggests, we need to be experienced in using those platforms. And the iPhone/iPod Touch is clearly the reader’s choice now.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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  4. Such a valid point! I hadn’t even thought of it, although I don’t know how many students at my library have eReaders or even iPhones (Blackberrys seem to be the phone of choice). Regardless, eBooks should be readable on a number of different platforms.

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