Contributor Cindy Orr provides a recap of the LJ/SLJ virtual eBook summit in her monthly blog post.
A couple of weeks ago I took a day off from my regular work and joined 2,500 others at the Library Journal/School Library Journal virtual eBook summit called “Ebooks: Libraries@ the Tipping Point.” The online conference provided some fascinating insights and information. (Disclosure: I do freelance editorial work for LJ, but I had nothing to do with putting on the summit.)
The first observation I would make is that the technology worked surprisingly well, and it was fascinating to listen to lectures while viewing slides and following live comments via Twitter at the same time. (Okay, I added Twitter on my own, but so did a whole bunch of other people.) I’m pretty far over the median age for this kind of multitasking, but it really worked. The summit was packed with so much that I’ll definitely go back and listen to some of the sessions again…and I know that many other attendees felt the same way.
Here are just a very few highlights:
- Keynote Speaker Ray Kurzweil predicts that we will make not 100 years of progress in the 21st century, but more like 20,000 years of progress, because change is exponential. He believes that we will use machines inside our bodies to make ourselves smarter and healthier. This kind of change is hard for us to foresee because we are hardwired to think linearly. That’s because it worked for us to think that way back when we were living on the savannnah. For those who doubt Kurzweil’s outlandish predictions, he reminded us that he predicted in 1992 that downloadable eBooks would be a mainstream library service in the first decade of this century.
- Keynote Speaker Kevin Kelly pointed out that just as the Internet was not TV, but better, eBooks won’t be books but better…they’ll become something else. He suggested we think of books as tagged streams in real time. We will eventually have full body interaction with books, and books may be aware of us…where exactly our eyes are…they’ll be watching us back.
- Keynote Speaker R. David Lankes believes that eBooks are not a threat to libraries, and that libraries need to be careful not to end up with books that are treated as artifacts. He said that eBooks make him cranky because they’re boring right now. He wants to be able to have a simple embed that allows readers to build their own app that they can take with them, so that when they’re reading Percy Jackson, as they look things up, they can save them to their own app, then take it with them to the next Greek mythology book…or send it to friends.
- Panel Discussion: “Should Your Next Read Be an eRead?: the New Readers’ Advisory in the eBook Age.” In this program, Neal Wyatt discussed how appeal factors are different for eBooks, audiobooks, and print books. Factors such as page length and not being able to see “where you are” in the book changes the pace, but readers’ advisory service itself will remain the same. Duncan Smith emphasized the importance of getting RA information into the library catalog.
These are just a very few highlights from a very few programs. Some of the other sessions included “Ebooks and Academic Libraries: Toward a New Best Practice,” “The Google Books Project: Watershed Benefit or Dangerous Precedent?,” “Reality Check: Putting Ebook Reading Devices Into Kids’ Hands, and “Ebook What-Ifs: Issues That Impact Scenario Planning.” If you missed this conference, it’s still available (until December 31, 2010) for $19.95. I highly recommend it. What a bargain.