First of all, Nicole’s incredible dialog blog write-up is phenomenal, in regards to the Cushing Academy’s issue of eliminating ALL books from their collection.   Great points.

Hidden Factor of Why Cushing Story Loses Some of its Juice:

I think one of the interesting aspects of this issue can be found in one of the responses to the article  – the fact that there is a well-used public library right down the street that students often use.  It’s always important to what… do proper environmental scanning, and realize that there is another library helping to supply the 20,000 book void that Cushing Academy created:

The posting comment by Shoshanna Silverstein:

What they don’t mention here is that the public library is literally right down the street.  Students at Cushing can walk to Ashburnham Public Library in less than 5 minutes from the center of their campus.  Cushing having a library is almost unnecessary if you take that into consideration.”

Very powerful and illuminating point and fact.  So important to take the whole environment into context, which sort of strips this story of some of its potency.

Frankenstein says “Books Bad, Fire Good:”

What I find slightly horrifying is the statement by the academy headmaster James Tracy: “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.”

He also thinks it is wiser to spend $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.  You know, coffee is a far more important investment than those out-of-date books… oh, also “gotta” have some $42,000 on three large flat screen TVs…  Personally, it would be better to spend that $100,000 and give 200 students iPads.  That would be creative marketing and applications to the academy would flood in.

Liz Vezina, a librarian at Cushing commented, “It makes me sad.  I’m going to miss them. I love books. I’ve grown up with them, and there’s something lost when they’re virtual. There’s a sensual side to them — the smell, the feel, the physicality of a book is something really special.”

Why is it that so often that those who want to be hip and up on the new wave or the latest technology, don’t realize that you don’t throw everything out like the old was all bad and that technology is all good.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there can be a blend of offerings within the library space, complementary even.  In fact, if books are going the way of manuscripts and scrolls, then they might want to hold onto them as investment if books go the way of rarity.

Where’s the ebook waiting list?

Some of our other articles written on ebooks in academia seem to demonstrate the lack of interest by students.  Some of this is because of proprietary issues, cost issues, lack of exposure issues, and the list goes on.  In the Princeton report, students actually were given Kindles (that sure makes a difference) with course/textbook material – most thought that it lacked proper annotation facility that occurs with paper models.  I mean if a school was going to hand out a Kindle, or better yet, an iPad, I’d take it.  Of course, with Google Edition, we can now download Google Books collections on our computers.  I still believe the market for ebooks in academia will be in textbook and course material.  That would one of the best offerings for electronic books.  In particular, ebooks based in certain areas, such as the sciences would benefit from updated electronic books as well as technology-based areas.

Give me a format, give me a standard!

Ok, I just had to throw in this Afghanistan PowerPoint diagram – it’s too good. Please substitute verbage above for ebook formats…

Part of the problem in building ebook collections is the dizzying array of choices of readers, and formats.  I mean at least the International Digital Publishing Forum is trying to push for one standard – ePub, yet the reality is that there exits over 50 different ebook formats.  This is also likely why libraries haven’t taken a huge plunge into this area nor why users are not going “ga-ga” for ebooks.

iPad and Google Edition:

I do think that the iPad will being to make a dent into interest in eBooks.  I mean, there were more iPads sold in 1 month than Kindles for an entire year.  I mean, witness the English lit major and 100-year-old woman, having glaucoma, who already has read two books in one week on iPad, Of course, Kindles are better for your eyes and interestingly for your sleep than iPads.  Yet, I can’t help but think that Apple and Google will be playing big-time in the ebook arena with iPad and Google Edition.  It will be interesting how ebooks eventually play out in academic and public collections, or will we be seeing ebook rentals on the horizon?  Now that’s a whole other can of worms…