Trends in e-books at SLS event

Joe Lam, Managing Director of Elsevier Health Sciences South East Asia, gave a talk on the e-book trends at the Special Libraries Section inaugural networking event on 11 November 2010 at the Maxwell Chambers. The event was sponsored by LexisNexis.

Joe Lam on e-book trends at SLS event

Electronic books started in 1970. There are many formats for e-books with the major ones using PDB, Adobe and ePub. The devices used to read e-books have also grown and advanced. He mentioned e-Ink which with LED display. Then came Kindle and iPad. iPad sales have soared with even higher sales forecast for the coming year as it was a multi-function device. Galaxy from Samsung is the next device on the market which is smaller and lighter.

The business models for e-books has also been changing. Currently, e-books must be purchased or subscribed. A new rental model is gaining popularity. For example, Amazon allows a 14-day loan for its Kindle e-books and e-magazines.

With the e-book format, the usage and functionality is also changing. The search capability of e-books allows users to find the right information to fit their needs. If the content of the book can now be made dynamics and contextual, with tagging and intelligent classification that allows the content to be integrated with work flow of the user. For example, doctors need fast access to relevant information to make a good diagnosis. If a doctor was in the emergency room, his e-book device could filter the relevant reference titles to the top. It could also allow him to upload patient information and images like an MRI scan.

In the future, the content from e-books would be integrated in the organization and libraries. Books would no longer be fixed in one format and in one sequence. Instead, content would be re-packaged and integrated with existing content. This would require good tagging and indexing to make it possible. Applications to make use of e-books would also become important. There could be apps for e-books on iPhone and Facebook. All this will deliver the content in the right context for users and will become the knowledge of the user.

The talk was enlightening and I look forward to seeing the new ways that users will find to use the e-books. We need to keep an eye on these trends and consider the impact on libraries.

Contributed by Yeo Pin Pin