Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thing #22 - eBooks and Audio eBooks

How timely a topic this is when we are discussing the possibility of eTextbooks for schools. California already has several free textbooks available online for schools to use. The real issue here however is access to computers and the Internet. Many of our students in Los Angeles do not have a computer for their own use. I believe one of our Calib colleagues stated that we are awaiting the unveiling of a low cost alternative to Kindle that can be made available to all students. So...what do I think about all these books being made available online and electronically? Mixed emotions. I am in the middle of adding my home library to LibraryThing right now, feeling and touching and reading each one. The idea that I might not have books to hold in my hands and flip through at my own pace is disturbing to me. However, I also see the tremendous value of sharing the notebooks of Jane Austen and the original Alice's Adventures Under Ground for all the world to see and enjoy! And to listen to someone reading them at the same time is positively delicious. Somehow I think that both the physical and electronic book will exist for some time to come. But eventually, we will be saving trees and eliminating the nooks and crannies for silverfish (this year I've been inundated with them!) and other bugs to hide. I suppose eventualy we will go to museums to see the last examples of Gutenberg's invention. Interesting to me is that I didn't consider that people can self publish their books online -- books that probably never would have made it in the publishing world otherwise. One site I visited was mostly self-published books, ones I admit I had little interest in reading but can see the overwhelmingly democratic nature of this process!!

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