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BookNext: The Future of Reading

As SLA Europe President I was invited to speak at BookNext, the 4th Spring Event hosted by the American Embassy and the American University in Rome at the end of March. The theme for the event was the rise and rise of the ebook and we had a number of presentations from users and vendors discussing their impact and adoption.There’s some great video and photographs giving a real flavour of the event on the event’s website.

Mine was¬†possibly a¬†mildly dissenting voice; talking about how ebooks restrictions (licence and format) and vendors’ options mean their use in London law libraries is minimal. Key legal textbooks are either in print or used via vendors’ databases, not as standalone downloadable products.

Christopher Platt told an engaging story about the New York Public Library and its ebook issuing service – reflecting the libraries’ ability to reach its audience when the library is closed; issues around the way that ebooks are accessed. We don’t ask patrons to find physical books based on their publisher, but that’s the way that ebooks are arranged if every vendor has their own platform. Antonella De Robbio discussed the way that publisher and author rights have not changed despite the changes in printing and distribution and wondered if it wasn’t time for an update in the expectations around intellectual property.

Across the board it was interesting to see the same issues are being addressed – are publishers talking to libraries, or making assumptions about what will work? How do we influence the way ebooks can be borrowed to ensure our users get the best options?

Personally, I found the experience of speaking at a bilingual conference intriguing; each time a speaker changed language there was a flurry of activity as folk removed or used their headsets. Meeting Italian and American participants was also fun. Gimena Campos-Severa and Fransiska Wallner worked hard to produce a well attended, thought provoking and exhausting day. Thank you for the invitation and for the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Rome.


Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe,

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