On ebooks (of course)

Am I the only one who doesn’t like the idea of all the “value added” content? Everyone seems so excited about “this will link seamlessly to there! And show you this when you read that!” Not that I’m against new formats, but one thing that I like about print is that it’s linear. I don’t even like sidebars or footnotes! I like being able to go from beginning to end and know that I haven’t missed anything. I found the 601 modules infuriating because each one linked to so much more content. I hear people getting all excited about how much more content can be packed in, and I shudder.

On the one hand, sure, it’s cool that you’re breaking down the barriers between “this is what this book says” and “here’s the community of knowledge that exists on the topic”, but at the same time it makes the reading experience harder to ever “finish”. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe I just fall at a weird point in this debate, and as kids start growing up with hyperlinked text they’ll adapt more seamlessly. I figure it’ll be especially important for me as a school librarian to embrace anything that promotes an integration of literacies. I’ve only recently started reading graphic novels, and even that is a challenge for me, but I can see how kids benefit from being able to interpret that format.

Maybe a better way of looking at this is, forgetting about books and cds and photographs, what is the best way to integrate and present human knowledge in a useable package? I don’t think the result will look like e-books, but it’s something to contemplate. And honestly, who better to compile such a thing – an authoritative package of “what you need to know” on any given topic? Why not librarians? Actually, why anyone else? Well, profit, I guess. But I’d feel much better knowing that the way we receive information in the future could be shaped by librarians rather than corporations.

Anyway, now I’m late for work.


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