Reading books on the move ...

Lorcan 1 min read

I have just read M-Libraries: Information use on the move: a report from the Arcadia Programme [pdf] by Keren Mills.
It provides an overview of recent trends in ‘mobilized’ library services, library services which use mobile communications. It reports the results of a survey of library users about their preferences and makes some recommendations for library services.
I was interested to read the following:

These results suggest it is not worth libraries putting development resource into delivering content such as eBooks and e-journals to mobile devices at present. EBooks are already accessible via some mobile phones, such as iPhones and Windows Mobile devices, and audio files such as podcasts and audio books can easily be played on many mobile phones or portable media players. At present, however, most users are put off by the constraints of the technology, such as poor screen quality. iPhone users are already more inclined to read eBooks on their phones, according to comments from the respondents to this survey. [M-Libraries: Information use on the move: a report from the Arcadia Programme pdf]

In the time when this report was being prepared we have seen major developments in the consumer ebook space. There has been discussion of Google Editions, new releases of the Kindle, and a variety of reading applications (e.g. Stanza, Eucalyptus), and several companies are working to provide various reading options.
One reason for this is given in the note above: the iPhone, and now other smartphones which are trying to compete, has made reading more congenial.
In this context, I wonder what sort of response Keren would get if she were to repeat her survey in, say, 3 years time.
Incidentally, Mike Shatzkin has an interesting presentation about the future of books here, given recently at Book Expo 2009.

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