Monday, August 10, 2009

E-Books and PDFs

As a researcher I don't have an either-or attitude to books and e-books. I love the feel and smell of tangible books, and the fact that I can read them on the bus, in the bath, in the garden. They are (in McLuhan's terms) read with Light On (bouncing off a surface) rather than Light Through.

The Virtual McLuhan on 'Light Through'
Digital McLuhan on 'Light Through'

At the same time, searching through text with even a reasonable Index and a list of Contents seem inadequate at times - when with a PDF you can search for any phrase, keyword or 'character name' you remember. Unbeatable. Just as the electronic OED lets you do complicated things like 'find all English words with Arabic origins' which you can do in mere moments...

e-book readers reviewed
Anyway - for discussion of e-readers (not something I have invested in yet) you could (for example) look at this page, from Lybrary - a site which sells e-books - comparing the different e-book readers currently available.

Adobe Digital Editions
For those of you not yet intending to invest a couple of hundred pounds in a portable reader you might find this FREE offering from Adobe interesting and useful. Digital Editions offers a way to organise your PDF e-books into libraries, shelves and annotate pages, etc.
Read about it, and Download here.

Here are a couple of quotes from that website, to give you an idea:

Interface designed for digital reading

Take advantage of a clean, well-organized interface, expressly designed for reading digital publications. Use the Reading View to view bookmarks, annotations, and a table of contents. Display your PDF files in a double-page, single page, or fit-to-width view — or specify your own custom fit. You can also increase and decrease text size with EPUB content.

File organization

Organize your digital publications and manage devices in the convenient Library View. Sort by title, author, and publisher, and view the covers of your favorite eBooks. You can also create custom bookshelves to further organize and manage your content.

And here's an interesting detail (not one our library has got involved in yet...

Borrowing eBooks

Borrow eBooks from many public libraries for use with Digital Editions. Downloading digital publications from libraries is very similar to buying eBooks online except for the payment process.

I'd love to hear from any librarians with experience of this process for information delivery.

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