Today I presented at the Argentine Library Association Conference about ebooks in US Libraries, thanks to an invitation from the American Embassy (in Buenos Aires) Information Resource Center. I offered information about purchasing and accessing eBooks and about lending eReaders in libraries. But, I learned quite a bit in return! For example, no one who attended my presentation (about 80 librarians) offered ebooks in their library. Also, only 2 of the attendees owned an eReader (one Kindle and one iPad if you are counting). Why? There just are not many Spanish language eBooks available for libraries and the format has not become as popular yet. I expect this will change soon, as more publishers offer eBooks and US publishers move into the South American market.
The US Embassy Information Resource Centers are offering a variety of databases and eBooks through their eLibrary program however. Furthermore, the IRC’s provide the most interesting services to the communities they serve. The one here in Buenos Aires does significant outreach to students, particularly those who work with the Model UN project. They offer instruction, do class visits, and provide informational materials about the US so that Argentine students can represent the US at local Model UN competitions. Because they work so closely with students, the IRC leaped into Facebook and have over 42,000 friends, many of whom are the Model UN students. Their most recent post today was about the Buenos Aires book fair. Hugo, a IRC staff member mentioned that the book fair is attended by many school children as one of their cultural field trips.
I also discovered a new eBook reader today – Papyre by Grammata. There are four varieties of eReaders from Grammata, which are produced by a Spanish company and distributed in Argentina (and probably beyond). The smallest device was 5″ and the largest one offered a 6″ screen for reading and a larger color screen at the bottom for navigation (similar to a nook). They said there were over 600 free ebooks available for the devices and over 25,000 available for purchase, from major Spanish language publishers (via li branda).
I mentioned this in my previous post, but the book fair is packed with print books! All of these are for sale to visitors of the fair. Additionally, the streets of Buenos Aires are full of independent book stores. I just love the book culture in Argentina!
Here’s a link to an interview I did with a media company called Infobae.
Photos from the US Embassy of my visit.