Top Tech Trends – Ebook Readers and the iPad

I was a panelist at PLA 2010’s Top Tech Trends session, and talked about ebook readers and the ipad as a top tech trend to watch in 2010. Here’s my outline for the session:

Ebook Readers and the iPad:

  • ebooks have been around wince 1971! that’s when the gutenberg project started!
  • 1998 – first ebook readers appeared

how many different models are there?

  • at least 20 different manufacturers

over 2 million free ebooks

  • 15 different file formats!
  • kindle, txt, epub, html, pdf, etc
  • epub
    • open free format – not proprietary
    • css, xml styling
    • default standard, not everyone (ie., kindle) uses it

Operating Systems on ebook readers:

  • linux
  • android
  • windows mobile/win ce
  • iphone OS

size

  • most are 6-8 inches or so
  • mobile version – iphone is an ebook reader, other phones

e-ink or LCD

  • e-ink – imitates the look and ease of readability of print while consuming little power

memory

  • most are in gigabytes
  • holds hundreds of books

connectivity

  • wifi
  • cellular networks
  • price – 150 to 750
still sorta like the 90s with cell phone or PDAs

why did I pick this for a top tech trend when they’ve been around for so long?
Apple likes to change things
  • Mac – changed the computer industry – mouse and GUI were pretty obscure untilt hat first mac came along in 1984
  • ipod – changed the music industry – pricing, formats, size, etc., mp3 players
  • iphone – changed the cell phone industry
    • touch screen
    • more than just a cell phone – games, internet, browsers, ipod, movies, calendar, email, twitter, facebook, etc, etc, etc
    • many copycats

iPad will do the same thingĀ  – but to what industry?

  • gaming and movies
  • will probably change the ebook industry
    • better ebook reader
    • more like a book – flip the pages by touch
    • color
    • great screen
    • turn the thing to flip the screen
    • accessibility built in
    • and 5 of the 6 largest publishers are already on-board.

why?

  • money – they’ve seen itunes and the app store and want in

What might we have by end of 2010?

  • The iPad ships on April 3
  • iPad will be on version 2-3 by the end of 2010
  • will have made millions of publishers millions of dollars, Apple even more
  • price will have probably dropped
  • more publishers will be using the epub format (and wanting into itunes store)
  • copycats will start to appear

Issues for libraries to consider:

our patrons will start buying iPads soon.

  • does it work with Overdrive?
  • does it work with our catalogs?
  • can patrons plug them into your PCs?

staff issues

  • can your staff use them to help patrons who own one?

library stuff

  • can patrons check them out?
  • can your library buy them for patrons to use/check out?
  • battery life -do you charge the battery before handing them out to patrons? Do you have a place for multiple devices to be charged behind the circ desk (or wherever you might keep them)?

bigger issues

  • content licensing and DRM

Expressing your Organizational Personality Online

Shmear - is your copy fun & informal?I love how some companies do that “informal language” thing – like Einstein Bros Bagels. Have you seen what they call their cream cheese? They call it “shmear.” Because you “shmear” it onto your bagel, right?

When businesses do that type of thing – use informal slang, or informal visuals in signage, or even when they always do certain things the same way – they are expressing their organizational personality.

What do I mean by organizational personality? Well – have you ever walked into a store, a business, even a restaurant … and felt the “vibe” of the place? Suddenly felt like you needed to whisper, for example? Or the atmosphere of the place felt light and lively, and immediately put a smile on your face?

Those businesses are most likely aware of that vibe … and have even planned for it. When they focus on creating certain types of consistent experiences, and on consistent touch points, they are expressing their organizational personality.

And once that personality is created, an organization can consistently express it everywhere – in a storefront, online, out of the office, even in print material.

Does your organization have a personality? You bet. Do you know what it is, and how to express it in different venues? Probably not, I’m guessing. Libraries are a great example of this. For many of us, the in-the-library personality is expressed as a fun, casual, maybe even sometimes inspirational one – smiles, helpful staff, colorful books, etc. That adds up to a light, informal, casual-but-hip organizational personality.

But when you visit the library’s website, you get a different personality entirely. Frequently, the website isn’t fun at all – instead, it’s all columns, formality, staid colors, and no friendly chatter at all. Very different personality from the in-the-library experience, isn’t it?

Give it some thought – figur out what your organization’s personality is, and how it’s being expressed. Then work on making that organizational personality consistent everywhere. It’ll add up to a better, more consistent experience for your customers.

Please Ask for Assistance

don't touchI took this photo at a guitar store in a small town in Wisconsin. I get what they’re doing – lots of guitar/music stores do the very same thing. They really don’t mind you touching the guitar – as long as a staff member is standing beside you. Why?

Well … you might break the thing … you might scratch the back of the guitar … your playing style might be too rough for their floor model … it might be out of tune, and the floor rep could help you … the sales dude might need to “persuade” you that it sounds good …

And of course, the floor rep would need to remove that sign for you before you tested it out.

What’s going on here? This music store (like many others) is not focusing on customers. They are focusing on their stuff – their guitars, their drums, their merchandise. They want to make sure that merchandise isn’t damaged … maybe something bad happened once, and someone tripped while holding a guitar, and cracked it. But that’s certainly NOT the majority, is it? For the most part, they are actually damaging their business. Who wants to ask for assistance?

Guitar Center gets this. That has to be the noisiest music store I’ve ever visited. Why? Because they let you touch the merchandise. Grab a guitar off the wall, plug it into the largest amp you can find, and wail away. Go to the drum room, find some sticks, and try out that new Disturbed (yes, this is a rock bad) lick you just learned.

In the process, you get to test out the merchandise. And Guitar Center does a good job of pushing that merchandise (judging by the many large stores they have all over the US). It’s working for them.

Which leads me to my point – do we do this in libraries? Do we have processes in place that force customers to “ask for assistance” before they “test out the merchandise?” Some possibilities:

  • study rooms that you have to ask to use (or bathrooms, for that matter)
  • computers that are “locked down” so even simple things like USB drives don’t work on them
  • The reference section that can’t be checked out (even though those books aren’t used much)
  • A subscription service, like Overdrive, that’s there … but difficult enough to use that it turns customers away.
  • Or even good, useful services in your library that simply aren’t advertised (my library’s guilty of that – and we’re fixing it)?

How to fix this? Maybe start here – figure out the original reasoning behind the rule/policy. If it’s one of those “5 people did it so we’re punishing/protecting 100″ types of rules … simply stop it. Right now. You should have other policies in place to fix those things (like a behavior policy, a check out policy, a computer use policy, etc).

My guess is that if you get rid of those types of policies and procedures, you will be well on your way to fixing your own “please ask for assistance” signs in your library.

pic by carpaccio

Personal Accounts, Work Accounts – What To Do?

Sometimes, I get these types of questions:

“I’m learning about social media tools, and a patron saw I was online and asked me a question … but I wasn’t at work! What should I do?”

“I was at work, and a friend saw I was online in Facebook and started asking me about the party last night. What should I do?”

    Here’s my take. I’d love for you to add to the discussion!

    First, for the patron/after-hours question. There are a few different ways to deal with this:

    • Answer the question. Really, this isn’t much different than getting stopped in the store and asked a question (yep – I think I have an “I’m a librarian! Ask me” sticker stuck to my forehead – don’t you?).
    • Alternatively, simply say “I’m off-duty. Email me the question, and I’ll answer it tomorrow.”

    How about the friend-contacting-you-at-work thing? For starters, I’d say chatting with a friend while at work is perfectly fine (as long as you’re getting your work done). You’re learning the tool with someone you trust. That’s a great way to gain new skills.

    What if that staff member is spending too much time in Facebook? Think about your work phone for a sec. In most jobs, it’s fine to get an occasional call from a friend. But if you’re spending 5 hours a day on the phone with that friend, then it’s a problem. And it’s not a problem with the phone – it’s a behavioral issue that the employer needs to deal with. Same thing with Facebook. Deal with the problem (spending too much time talking to friends while at work) – not the symptom (phone/Facebook).

    While I’m on the topic, a related question that I’m also asked is this: “Should I set up separate work and personal accounts in social networks, or set up one for everything?”

    I’m not convinced the question is completely warranted anymore. Some social networks have made this issue pretty easy to figure out without worrying too much about personal/work-related stuff. For example, Facebook has two types of accounts – personal profiles nad organizational Pages. If you set up an organizational library Page, and you set up a personal profile that’s you, the two don’t really cross over.

    There is one kinda tricky part to Facebook Pages. To set up a Facebook Page, you use your personal profile. That organizational Page is connected to, or owned by, whoever originally sets up the Page. This is important to think through! Do you create a “library david” profile, then create the Page (which sorta goes against Facebook’s policy – one profile per person)? Or do you use your real personal profile to set up the page? I know more than one librarian who has gotten another job, moved out of state … and still technically “owns” the Facebook Page from the old job. That can get weird fast!

    There’s also one slightly tricky part with Twitter, too. My library has a library Twitter account. And I have my personal Twitter account. Easy enough. I also do a lot of “listening” via Twitter searches for my library. So, when someone asks a question or says something about the library – even if they don’t use the proper @topekalibrary to do it – I see that comment. I usually reply to them using my @davidleeking account. What do you think – is that ok, or should I use the @topekalibrary account? Not sure.

    S0 – what do you do? Do you find it easy or hard to separate your work life from your personal life online? Let me know – and share what you do!

    photo by anomalily