Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day 2012

As well as being Saint David’s Day today (come and buy your Marie Curie daffodil here at the Owen Library!) you may be interested to know that it is also World Book Day, when we celebrate all things related to books and reading. Last year the library staff shared some of their favourite reads with you here on the blog and you responded in your droves to let us know what books you loved too. This year we thought we’d go all hi-tech and focus on e-books!

Advances in technology mean that we can now have a portable library in our pocket; we can read our favourite books on virtually any mobile device, anytime, anywhere (I have many of the classics on my iPhone!). But perhaps the most exciting feature of e-book technology is its ability to add fantastic interactive dimensions to the reading experience. We can now see our favourite characters literally come alive on the page, sound effects and atmospheric music can be added, maps and diagrams can be manipulated by the reader, and children can ‘step into’ and actively participate in the fantasy world created by their bedtime stories.

We’d like to know what you think about e-books; whether you’ve used them, what devices you read them on (Kindle, iPad, iPhone), what you like and dislike about them etc. Imagine your favourite book...what interactive features would you like to see on an electronic version? I’m a big fan of gothic literature and I’ve found a great example of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as an e-book for iPad. Have a look at the video above to see some of the fantastic interactive features that are now possible and let us know what you think...

By the way, many of the core textbooks for SMU courses are also available as e-books. Have a look at your subject area on the library webpage to access them for free!

Happy World Book Day from all your SMU library staff.


  1. I love my Kindle – and I’m waiting for a smell-o-rama type app. Recipes smelling of freshly baked bread, spicey cakes, or chocolate brownies wherever I go ... :0)

  2. I've been a reader of eBooks for over a decade, starting first with a little Palm Pilot in the early noughties, before eventully progressing to a Sony, then the Kindle (which I love) and now my iPad.

    As well as the ease of carrying large numbers of books around with me, I was long ago impressed with the introduction of interactivity in eBooks. John Ringo's "A Hymn Before Battle" was the first interactive book I read, which provided hyperlinks to maps courtesy of the US Geological Survey - as the book is about an alien invasion of Earth it was great for those of us who didn't know anything about the layout of the ground in various parts of the US and had problems visualising the tactical situations.

    A more recent book that has impressed me is Richard Dawkins' "The Magic of Reality", a young adult book providing scientific explanations of things about which many peoples have developed myths. Not only is text beautifully illustrated on the iPad, but it also contains a number of science-based games to explain some of the points.

    Clearly eBooks are now beginning to expand from being simply texts that you read on a computer screen to immersive educational and entertainment software. I look forward to seeing what will change in my next decade as an eBook reader.

  3. I think this is the way forward for e-books. It makes sense to take advantage of the capabilities of the medium to add a new dimension to the text, rather than just trying to replicate a traditional book. These extra features can also be helpful in engaging young readers to improve literacy levels.
    In the library, our e-books have been really successful in allowing wider access to core texts, so I’m all for them in an academic setting!
    Ultimately, though, I'm afraid I'm devoted to the paper book. This is largely an emotional response on my part. Although I know that the technology has advanced enough to make the experience of reading on screen a much nicer one, I still can't help but feel that after a day in work reading screens, it's more relaxing to read from paper. I can see the advantage of Kindles and the like - 1000s of books carried about so easily! - but I like the fact that if I spill coffee on my paperback or drop it in the bath, it'll still work! Also, if I leave it on the train it won't cost too much to replace. I like browsing in bookshops. I like seeing those tangible items stacked up on tables and shelved ready for my perusal.
    However, that said, I fully expect to become a digital convert eventually! When eReaders become as cheap as chips, I shall probably buy one, and I will probably fall in love with it. Until then, I'll stick with the humble paperback!

  4. Having waxed lyrical about the joys of eBooks above, I must agree with Philippa that I am still devoted to the paper book for some things. I still find textbooks, especially large ones that have you flicking backwards and forwards between sections, are far easier to handle in paper versions. While I love the eBooks for light reading - things that are designed to be read in a serial manner - I much prefer my reference books in paper. While I appreciate that having electronic versions of my extensive library of embroidery books might be nice just to have video instructions for particularly complex stitches, there's nothing like picking one of them up and just flicking through it to look for inspiration.