Books beyond paper

The technological developments in the field of computers and internet have brought in far reaching changes in both at home and the office. Communication through letters has changed over to exchange of e-mails. The vast storage space available in the computer is being utilized for storing text, music, pictures and video in electronic format. Once inside the computer hard disk, they are all digital files consisting of bits of ‘ones’ and ‘zeroes’. Office automation has improved efficiency and has provided cost reduction to survive in a competitive environment. Modern technology is known to have had its impact on every part of our life.

It can’t leave the world of books untouched. e-book We are living in the age of information and the internet. This is the period of the knowledge economy. There are several changes that have taken place in the work area. Most of the work is being done using the computer, intranet and the internet. Modern offices have become paperless offices. Faster microprocessors and higher disk space available in the computer has made storage and retrieval of data faster and convenient and this has helped Project Gutenberg to convert texts of classical literature into the digital format (History and philosophy of Project Gutenberg, 1992).

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The idea was to make books and other information to be made available to the general public. The World Wide Web can be considered as a vast library where all sorts of information is stored and is accessible to anybody from any corner of the world. The websites which form the World Wide Web can be considered as the books or magazines of the virtual library. The websites have different applications such as games, on line shopping, networking, music and video sharing. But there are many websites such as online dictionaries and encyclopedias which have been organized similar to books or printed matter.
Some of these websites and the databases can be considered as electronic books (Bradley F. James). HTML coding is the standard followed by all websites to accommodate text as well as pictures. A server is a host where the WebPages are uploaded. Hundreds of such WebPages are put together in a common server with a domain name so that they can be accessed easily. The WebPages are interconnected using hypertext links. This has resulted in a network consisting of WebPages full of information on all sorts of topics.
Massive work is in progress in adding content to the websites and they are being periodically updated. There are any number of online libraries which host books that can be read on the net. The HTML coded text can be read using the web browsers. In addition there are books that can be downloaded which are generally in pdf format. Adobe Acrobat Reader is the software that is required for reading text in pdf format. Reading a book from a computer screen is not same as reading from the printed book. It is basically the comfort level of the reader.
To make the concept of the e-book more acceptable and also to provide the reader the flexibility of reading the book as per his requirement, several manufacturers have come up with paperback size portable electronic gadgets that work on batteries. The e-books come in two broad categories; the personal digital assistant (PDA) and electronic reading device (ERD). While PDA is for multi-function use and it is considered as a hand held computer, ERD is specially designed and marketed for reading pleasure. ERD has the provision to download and store the e-book files from a computer hard disk and display text on a screen.
For music files mp3 compression became a standard but there is no such standard for e-books. There are as many as 25 different formats which are being promoted by different manufacturers. In addition, the e-books that are commercially made available are with digital rights management (DRM), a form of security to prevent people from sharing without authorization (Rosso Sara, 2009). The dedicated e-book readers use E Ink technology to simulate text printed on paper and ink particles are displayed electronically. There is no need of backlighting of the display. It can be read even in broad day light.
Amazon kindle is a product developed by Amazon. com and the second generation model became available in March 2009. There is provision to deliver content directly to the e-book within a wireless coverage area hence a computer is not required to download content. It has features such as choosing text size; the text can be read out either through speakers or headphones while the screen continues to show the text being read; choice of voice can be male or female; dictionary look up for a particular word without disturbing the content; notes made are saved and backed up on Amazon servers.
It has capacity to hold thousand digital books, and other text from magazines and blogs. Whatever books purchased from Amazon. com are in a store for the customer and he can download them as and when he wants through the wireless access provided. All other text files belonging to the user which are in different formats can be uploaded to Amazon where they get converted to kindle format and are available for downloading and reading on the device (Kindle User’s Guide).
PRS-700 is the third generation Reader available from Sony and has additional features such as touch screen, on screen key board, and side lighting for reading in poor light. The addition of touch screen is supposed to have affected the display contrast. A portable mp3 player is integrated within the Reader to listen to music in the background. The internal storage capacity may be limited to 350 books but it has memory stick and SDHC SD card slot to store thousands of books and tunes (Gade Lisa, 2008). It uses Sony software to synchronize with desk top computer to transfer books to the Reader.
It supports different text formats such as text, RTF, MS Word, PDF and ePub. The iLiad book from iRex Technologies is an e-book with 8. 1 inch touchscreen display and has memory that can be expanded to 8 GB to accommodate up to 10,000 books in digital format. This needs to be connected to a PC using a USB cable to search and browse the net to download books or get it from mobipocket. com an online ebook-store. Mobipocket Reader is the software that works with this device. The handwritten notes can be converted to digital text. This device supports several formats (Stunningly paper-like).
Cybook Gen3 is an e-book from the French manufacturer Bookeen, slightly smaller in size with a six inch screen and easily fits in the hand. There is no provision for taking notes and Wi-Fi connectivity for downloading data. It needs to be connected to the PC with a USB cable to transfer data. 64MB built in memory is provided and SD card can be used for additional storage. It supports several text formats including PDF. It has an mp3 player for listening to music and also for playing audio books. It is energy efficient and the battery provides 8000 screen refreshes (Vogel Sandra, 2008).
The present generation of student population is technology friendly and would love the text books in a digital format which provides a clear advantage of easy portability in a laptop. It is easier for the libraries to store them and many people can access them using the intranet or the internet. The content can be updated as required. The library can transform itself from a place of storing books to an information portal. There is a need to distinguish the reading content from the e-book as a medium for storage and reading.
It is just like the difference between the music and the storage medium such as cassettes, CDs and mp3 digital files. The technological changes that were accepted in the music industry have helped in distributing music in different formats and now iPods and iTunes are the most popular form of the medium and the distribution channel for music. We are hopeful of a similar transformation to take place in text content and its medium and distribution provided the problem of DRM is settled and text content file is made available at a fractional price of its printed counterpart.
A standard open file format will be helpful in expanding the market Conclusion The text in digital format has several advantages of small size, easy portability, searching capability, font type and size, and ready access to dictionary. In theses days where people are losing reading interest, the rigid attitude of publishers on DRM and high cost of text in digital format is coming in the way of generating customer interest in e-book as a useful reading of tool. Works cited Bradley F.
James “The Electronic Book and PDA” retrieved on 2009-05-14 http://www. scinet. cc/articles/ebook/electronicbook. html Gade Lisa “Sony Reader PRS-700” Nov 11, 2008 Mobile Tech Review retrieved on 2009-05-15 http://www. mobiletechreview. com/gadgets/Sony-Reader-PRS-700. htm “History and philosophy of Project Gutenberg” Aug 92 retrieved on 2009-05-14 http://www. promo. net/pg/history. html “Kindle User’s Guide” 3rd edition retrieved on 2009-05-15 https://kindle. s3. amazonaws. com/Kindle_Users_Guide_v3. pdf
Rosso Sara “How to Read an ebook: Formats, Devices, Dedicated Readers and iPhone Applications” Mar 10, 2009 retrieved on 2009-05-14 http://www. whenihavetime. com/how-to-read-an-ebook-formats-devices-dedicated-readers-and-iphone-applications/? PHPSESSID=bb4854fd629733b5375a6a83a7f0d70d “Stunningly, Paper-like” The iLiad Book Edition retrieved on 2009-05-16 http://www. irextechnologies. com/products/bookedition/features Vogel Sandra “Bookeen Cybook Gen3 Review” Nov 9, 2008 Trusted Reviews retrieved on 2009-05-16 http://www. trustedreviews. com/mobile-devices/review/2008/01/09/Bookeen-Cybook-Gen3/p1


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