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ERIC Number: ED516203
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-18
Pages: 34
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-5974-0799-1
Handheld E-Book Readers and Scholarship Report and Reader Survey: ACLS Humanities E-Book. White Paper No. 3
Gielen, Nina
American Council of Learned Societies
This report describes a conversion experiment and subsequent reader survey conducted by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Humanities E-Book (HEB) in late 2009 and early 2010 to assess the viability of using scholarly monographs with handheld e-readers. As sample content, HEB selected six titles from its own online collection, three in a page-image format with existing OCR (optical character recognition)-derived text and three encoded as XML files, and had these converted by an outside vendor with minimal editorial intervention into both MOBI (prc) and ePub files. During its in-house assessment phase, HEB experienced some navigational difficulty with both formats and found that annotation and other interaction with the text was difficult using a number of popular e-readers. HEB also found the XML titles to be of limited functionality in the MOBI format and therefore opted not to further poll readers on this subset. About 88% of the 142 survey participants expressed overall satisfaction with the appearance and functionality of the three remaining handheld samples, although roughly half reported some level of frustration with the search function using either format, and only 26% felt they would have an easy time citing and referencing these editions. Satisfaction with other interactive features, such as adding notes, bookmarking and highlighting, was noticeably higher; however, the "n/a" option was also selected frequently for these categories, and it appears that a large number of participants were unable to perform the tasks in question due to confusing or insufficient instructions from the device manufacturer. As formats evolve, future satisfaction with these features may increase. Irrespective of specific limitations, 75% of participants were interested in potentially downloading additional similar titles for free or if priced below $10. HEB's initial findings in this study indicate that titles formatted for existing handheld devices are not yet adequate for scholarly use in terms of replicating either the benefits of online collections--cross-searchability, archiving, multifarious interactive components--nor certain aspects of print editions that users reported missing, such as being able to mark up and rapidly skim text. A turnaround is underway once a common and more robust format optimized for handheld readers is determined and devices themselves evolve, adding improved display options and better and more intuitive web-access, searching and other interactive use of content. Survey Results is appended. (Contains 30 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Council of Learned Societies