So I've downloaded 307 first chapters free from Amazon to my Kindle. (There must be a way to automatically convert an Amazon Wish List to downloaded Kindle samples - I'm hoping that I'm just too clueless to figure it out.)
What I'm wondering is if having 307 free first chapters on my Kindle can tell us anything the future of higher ed in general, and the academic library in particular?
Here is What I Do Know:
- The ability to download free first chapters of books changes the book buying experience. I'll make my buying choices more on the quality of that first chapter, and less on reviews or blurbs.
- That the portable, mobile, and technology mediated experience that is buying books through the Kindle will change how I purchase books, as the easy availability to browse first chapters from anywhere is not superior to the bookstore experience.
- That authors and editors are going to work really hard to produce a killer first chapter.
- That in the near future, when storage is really limitless on mobile devices, that our Nooks, Kindle's and iPad's will come pre-loaded with millions of books, and that books will automatically download in the background. If we want to buy the rest of the book we will unlock rather than download.
Here is What I Don't Know:
- Will we figure out how to put our entire academic library, every volume we own, on the future mobile devices that our students and faculty will carry? They will be able to search and read everything we have, "checking the book out" from the iPad, Nook, Kindle, Android or whatever comes next.
- Once instant access to everything is the norm, the standard, what will happen to us in higher ed (and in the academic library) if we fall behind? Will there be a cost?
- Conversely, even if this future is true, should we spend our (already overstretched) resources and precious time working to plan for a mobile device / content future that is a ways off, and is a consumer future anyway? Do we really need to keep up with Amazon?
- Can we make a good educational case to have our entire libraries, and maybe all the content in all the academic libraries, always accessible on and available on mobile devices?
Infinite storage plus e-readers (and mobile computers) might be some sort of game changer. Then again, it might not.