Friday, 20 July 2012

The Great eBook Debate

http://greylands.theslipstream.com.au/

The site was set up to relaunch Isobelle Carmody’s popular but out of print novel Greylands as an eBook. The site hosts events and a wealth of content, but is only live for a month. One section is ‘The Great eBook Debate’, where each day in the month a guest librarian, writer or scholar is invited to post about an issue or topic related to ebooks and libraries. Conversations through the comments streams are encouraged, and lively. There are some great summaries of the issues libraries face from the candid perspective of librarians and scholars, using layperson language.

NLA’s Academic Librarian Rebecca Kemble (‘Ebooks and Libraries’ posted 19 July 2012) describes the ‘popular certainty’ that the internet would lead to the death of the physical library as a fallacy similar to the idea of the ‘paperless office’.  She also explains the requirements of Legal Deposit – basically publishers and self publishing authors have to deposit a copy of any print work published in Australia with the NLA, and they are currently campaigning to have the terms of Legal Deposit altered to include electronic materials.

Of the launch site itself, this is an interesting paratext that is designed to draw readers in to the primary text (the eBook itself) through a range of discussion and extra material. Like a literary Happy Meal. Carmody says:
“It was always one of my personal favourites among the books I have written, for reasons you will discover here, as the days pass, but it was out of print. Now books have always gone out of print and authors have always accepted they must, unless they rose into the heavens as classics. But in this brave new world of eBooks, there is no longer any need for any book to g out of print. Cyberspace is the library of the infinite.”

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