Monday, March 12, 2012

The E-Book Story, Part 1: What are e-books and where can I find some?

E-books:  do you know that we have them?  Do you know the options you have for using them?  Do you know what we're planning to do with e-books in our collection?  If any of these questions interest you, please read on through this series of short posts on e-books.  

E-books are books that are fully available in digital form.  They generally offer the ability to search their texts by keyword, which can make it easy to find concepts throughout the book and jump among them.  They can be read straight through, consulted for key facts, or some combination of the two.  Our expectation with them, as with full-text journal articles, is that they will contain the same illustrations, images, and other content included in the print versions of the books (and this is often true).  They can be read off-campus as well as on, possibly by multiple people at one time.  As we'll see in the series, they appear and are experienced in a variety of ways.

Let's start with the e-books we have.  Miami University and OhioLINK have been buying e-books for several years, both in pre-set collections where we do not choose individual titles and in other arrangements where we do pick the titles.  In some cases, this involves the outright purchase of e-books (such as the reference titles in the Gale Virtual Reference Library).  In other cases, this involves subscribing to services that give us access to e-books (such as Safari Books Online).

There are two primary ways to find our e-books:

  1. Browse a collection of the books, like the two mentioned above, or the largest combined collection that we have, the OhioLINK E-Book Center (which searches several collections along with its own e-books).
  2. Use the Miami University Catalog to search for items on a topic, and then limiting your search using the categories on the left to the Format "Electronic Resource" and the Material Type "Books."  You will also just come across e-books as you search for your topic in the catalog.
How many e-books do we have?  This is an interesting question, and one that will be expanded on as the series continues.  But of the e-book sources mentioned so far, here are some numbers:
  • The OhioLINK E-Book Center has more than 62,000 e-books (on a wide variety of topics, but mainly of a scholarly and reference nature, including works from the publishers ABC-CLIO, Gale, Oxford University Press, Sage, and Springer)
  • Safari Books Online includes 16,020 e-books (mainly on technology, digital media, and business from publishers including O'Reilly, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Sams, and Que)
  • EBSCOhost E-Books contains more than 15,000 e-books (on a pretty wide variety of topics from many different publishers)
Adding in a number of the smaller collections (like Gale Virtual Reference Library) gives us right around 100,000 e-books.  You may seek them intentionally by looking in their collections, or they may just appear in catalog searches as you come across them.  

But, do you have to read them on your computer?  And what if you want to add more e-books to our collections?  Aren't there any more e-books out than this?  

All of these questions will be answered as the series continues.

The image above was provided by Safari Books Online.

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