The e-Future

I am revisiting the Horn Book Magazine’s March/April issue and I’m gleefully making a list of apps we’re going to download, review and add to the app collection. There are such great sound bites in here to support the whys and wherefores of why we’re playing with apps in libraries anyway.  Here are some of the good quotes from The e-Future by Stephen Roxburgh.

My favourite quote from this article:

(it gets to be first and purple because it’s REALLY important)


Let me quickly say that I’m not worried about librarians. Librarians have always understood that their job is to provide content. For a long time content was stored in codex-form books, so librarians became inextricably associated with them. But whatever emotional attachment librarians have to the codex format, delivering content is their job. They are in the vanguard of people who are figuring out how to accommodate the digital transformation. We may not need buildings full of books, but we’ll always need librarians to organize, track, and deliver content.


For five hundred years ink-on-paper has defined the business of publishing. It no longer does. We are witnessing and participating in a radical transformation of publishing.


What we really love about books is the content, which is unique and eternal, not the format, which is mass-produced and perishable.


The kids learning to read on screens now will be the first generation to slough off the emotional attachment to printed books. I don’t see this as a good thing. But in and of itself, it is not bad. It is what it is. It’s change. It’s different.


If cell phones were guns, and e-books were bullets, we’d be appalled. Cell phones are more powerful than guns, and books are more powerful than bullets. We should be ecstatic. But most of the publishing industry isn’t. Why is that? The issue is distribution. Distribution is the game changer. Because of digital technology, books are available to virtually anyone, anywhere, at any time. And the incremental cost of distribution is approaching zero. Universal access at low cost matters… Simply and crudely stated, publishers are screwed, and libraries are screwed.


You go to a library to get a book. If they have a copy, you go away happy; if not, you go away sad. In cyberspace, everywhere is local… When transmission effectively becomes duplication—a copy—the need to store local copies goes away. Hence, libraries are screwed.


What writers and artists do hasn’t changed. They create art with words and pictures. The tools don’t matter: charcoal on the wall of a cave, pixels on a screen. The format or platform doesn’t matter. If it’s done well, the reader or viewer will quickly lose any awareness of the medium as they immerse themselves in the content.

The Future:

So, folks, it is, indeed, a brave new world. The future? Well, strap yourself down. We are in for a ride and it may get bumpy! … Opportunities are accessible and endless. The old order is changing, making way for the new. When the new world was discovered, most people stayed put, enjoying the security and comfort of their established order. But a lot of people got on boats and ventured out of their comfort zone. For those of you whose comfort zone isn’t all that comfortable, be adventurers. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Posted on June 21, 2012, in Libraries, Publishing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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