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E-books


FEATURE


Mike Sweet is CEO of Credo Reference


but are not fundamentally changing the concept of books. Others like us are completely deconstructing them. We take reference books, deconstruct the content, and repackage and repurpose it to take advantage of new technology. We think of our platform in terms of having nearly four million entries rather than the 700 to 750 books that these entries come from. This is how people use reference, rather than exploring concepts alphabetically. You’d never read a reference book cover to cover, so electronic is far superior to the print world for reference. There is connectivity through mark-up and semantic-type searching to see patterns and inter-related content. It mirrors what users see on the rest of the web. We see ourselves as a lot of different


F


things, not really an aggregator but an online reference service. Our platform has small pieces of information that are easy to fi nd and use. It started with a core general reference product. Since then we have launched collections to go deeper into topics. Each collection has content from 30 to 60 titles,


www.researchinformation.info


rom our standpoint there are many different models for e-books and a lot of fragmentation. Some people are basically turning print books into PDFs. They allow keyword searching


although this will not be apparent to the user. Publishers also sell this content as e-books and different publishers have their own approaches. Some use online aggregators, some sell through their own platforms. There are so many choices to consider. Over the last 10 years


there has been a big decrease in the cost of converting reference book content to XML. This is because the partners who do the conversion work have become more skilled, and because the publishers themselves have been moving to XML workfl ows.


We believe in the role of the intermediary


We also see changes in the way that publishers are putting their books together. They are bringing in more video, audio and linking, recognising the potential for use online. Publishers are also breaking up content themselves. There are experiments across the board.


We now have Topic


Pages, which are searchable in Google and assemble resources from the rest of a user’s collection. These are designed to be discoverable on the open web and can be customised by local librarians. We are looking into semantic searching and ontology building, and how to incorporate this into Credo Reference. We


are also partnering with discovery tools. One of the things we believe in is the role of the intermediary to help shape the environment for users. We are working with most leading reference publishers and it is an ongoing conversation. We spend a lot of time acquiring good content. We’ve taken the approach to not remove content from our collections. We do replace titles with newer editions if they are not substantially different as part of our subscription service. We don’t take a competitive view with publishers. We think of it very much like partnerships. We don’t believe that any good can come out of squeezing our publisher partners.


APR/MAY 2011 Research Information 23


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