Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 20, 2009

A library in your pocket

Douglas MacMillan, Sony: Take That, Amazon! Business Week, March 20, 2009.  Excerpt:

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos won't tell you how many Kindles he's sold, but he's happy to share the number of e-book titles available on the device: 250,000, at last count.

With one fell swoop, a rival has made that library look small. On Mar. 19, Sony announced the addition of 500,000 titles to the collection of 100,000 e-books currently available to Sony Reader devices. Sony is giving away the books through a partnership with Google, which has already scanned and stored some 7 million books for its Google Book Search project. Neither partner disclosed details of the arrangement, but Google says that more of the public domain titles it has scanned will be available to Sony Readers in the future....


  • I was an adult before I could carry one recorded song in my pocket.  Today my daughters carry their favorite 10,000.  I could carry one book in my pocket, barely.  But --with an internet connection-- we can now carry hundreds of thousands, and we're speeding toward the day when --without an internet connection-- we could carry our favorite research library.  In a pocket.  I'm still digesting what that will mean.  Free online access to just about all you need will coexist, for those who want it, with free offline access to just about all you need.  I'm still stuck on the unexpectedness of that.  In January 2007, I got this far, but I'm still no further:
    Think about the difference between free online access to all the content you'll ever need and free offline access to all the content you'll ever need.  Online access has its advantages because the content will always be current and we'll be in real-time contact with other users who have the same access to the same content.  Offline access has its advantages because we won't always have connectivity, we won't always want connectivity, and lots of copies keeps stuff safe.  Because all our work for free online access will also help the cause of free offline access, we don't have to choose between the two.  We just have to start thinking about them.
  • Last December I noted that "there are many more gratis OA books online than print books in the average academic library."  Now your gateway to that literature can fit in your pocket.  Soon after, the literature itself can fit in your pocket, offline.  How will that change research?