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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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E-Books are Dead Durable Link to this BLOG
E-Books are Dead. Admit it!

A recent issue of Newsweek has a feature (linkrot detected) on Questia (a company that provides electronic books and reference contents) about how well its business model is, and how good it is doing. The story is misguiding, lacks the depth required for business reporting, and is full of bullshit.

My common sense tells me that no university student is going to cough up $20.00 a month for library access. Especially for a library that is way smaller than the free one that the university provides. Would you? would anyone?

Why Newsweek decided to provide publicity to this dying dot-com is beyond me, but e-books IMHO are a solution in search of a problem. There's definite value in electronic books, but only if being electronic is of significant value to the reader. Have you noticed that most e-books actually are dumb pages not even utilizing elementary technologies such as hyperlinking, reference linking, and even color ?!

It would have made much more sense for Newsweek to cover the thriving electronic journals business (called e-journals) that has revolutionized the way researchers and scholars access and use electronic content. It is only in the area of e-journals that the dream of a wall-less library has come true.

Links to Electronic Journals Systems
(Libraries Without Walls)

• EBSCO Online
• Science Direct
• Ideal Library
• CatchWord

They are not free, not even affordable. ha ha. Now tell me who has a better business model.

But this model works agaist the spreading of content.

I remain upbeat about the role of libraries to bridge the educational and social gaps of the world. It is the Publisher-Library nexus that needs re-engineering.

I think libraries are doing a great job of distributing knowledge despite the restrictions of the publishers, who by definition are in the business of charging for that knowledge -- so the restrictions are understandable. But when a company like Questia comes along, whose interests are they representing? Questia is not a publisher, but they want to charge you money for access to content. IMHO that is an inherently flawed business model.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
Tags: library

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