E-book Workshop Examines What's in Store
A workshop examining the potential of e-books was recently held in Bangalore, India, to identify the issues and complexities involved in e-book projects, and determine the role of e-books in education, research and libraries.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hosted the invitation-only workshop, which brought together publishers, distributors and users from Asia and Europe. Over 70 participants examined how the projected $400 billion industry will affect authors, publishers, distributors and consumers, and the challenges e-books face—short-lived technologies, and incompatible and non-interoperable formats and standards.
"The e-book industry and marketplace is a nebulous one with each of [its] players continuing to test waters and gingerly transiting into the arena," says workshop coordinator Shalini Urs, head of a UNESCO e-Book Project Strategy Group at Mysore University, in Mysore City, India. "While most of the stakeholders believe in the potential of e-books, none is ready to take the plunge—not yet. The e-book revolution, foretold in the year 2000, is yet to happen."
Each session of the four-session workshop featured a moderator and a panel of speakers that discussed a set of issues. During the first session, Urs provided a snapshot of the industry, its definitions and milestones, and the consequences of the merger and closure of key players.
Session two examined different facets and phases of the e-book publishing cycle from the user and technology perspective, and sparked a debate on the pros and cons of technology, and proprietary vs. open source software.
The third session looked at e-books from the perspective of the author and publisher. The session addressed copyrights and technology support—which the organization says is a concern to authors—and case studies that examine the role publishers play.
The final session addressed e-book publishing from the distributor and library perspective, and examined the differences in the business and access models of several e-book distributors such as netLibrary, Ebrary, Questia, books@Ovid and Safari Techbooks.