By Peter C. Herman"For the past few years, both the California State University and the University of California libraries have been experimenting with packages that replace paper books with e-books. The advantages are obvious. With e-books, you no longer have to schlep to a library to take out a book. You just log on from whatever device connects you to the web, at whatever time and in whatever state of dress, and voila! the book appears on your screen.
But the real attraction is price. Library budgets, along with university budgets, have been slashed, and such companies as Pearson and Elsevier offer e-book packages that make it possible to gain access (I’ll explain the awkward syntax in a moment) to lots of books at what seems like a minimal cost. The savings are multiplied when the package serves the entire system. So instead of each campus buying a paper book, all 23 CSU’s, for instance, share a single e-book. That’s the theory, at least. The reality is very different."
"Instead, a library pays to access a data file by one of two routes: “PDA,” or “Patron-Driven Acquisition,” in which a vendor makes available a variety of e-books, and a certain number of “uses” (the definition varies) triggers a purchase, or a subscription to an e-library that does not involve any mechanism for buying the e-book. Both avenues come loaded with all sorts of problems.
First, reading an e-book is a different, and lesser, experience that reading a paper book, just aswatching a movie at home differs from watching one in a theatre.
There’s a huge difference between casual and college reading, and recent studies prove beyond doubt that while e-books are perfectly fine for the latest John Grisham or Fifty Shades of Grey, they actively discourage intense reading and deep learning."