If you’ve ever heard me give a presentation about eBooks, then you’ve probably heard my soap box rant about the plethora of eBook platforms. I can’t stand it. I look forward to the day when all of my e-content – reference, monographs, textbooks, whatever – will be on one consistent platform, fully searchable by keyword and every other possible facet. With ALA Annual coming up in June, I am asking all of you who feel the same to please remind the publishers that we want one platform for our electronic content. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve just heard some rumors from a publisher that librarians in Japan asked for the exact same thing – one central platform!
Here’s an excerpt from my Nov. 1, 2008 article in Reference Books Bulletin about eBook platforms:
Make access a priority. The best way to drive business to e-reference is through the online catalog. Make sure all MARC records are in the catalog with persistent links to the e-books. Strive to use as few interfaces as possible. Our comparison chart lists 6 vendors, each with a unique interface and special features; how can we make things simpler? Purchase titles to own, and get the licensing agreement to provide a copy of the e-book in either the HTML, XML, or PDF version. With this data, libraries can mount all e-book content on 1 platform, like Ebrary, or an open-source product, like XTF. Or purchase from vendors that support multiple publishers in one platform—Gale Virtual Reference Library is a good example. Another good option for access is through Paratext’s Reference Universe, which indexes the table of contents, entries, and thousands of print and electronic titles. It’s a deeper search than the catalog, uses one interface, and has persistent links to the article level of e-books and to the catalog record of print titles. When shopping around, talk to publishers about access, and remind them that fewer interfaces make for simple searching by users and librarians.