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Almost every commodity or service that is sensitive to customer satisfaction and alive to consumer friendliness wins the approval within the modern system. EBooks are an ideal example of attempts of the literal world endeavors towards user friendliness. The form in which the EBooks are used gives the user an advantage over the print library users. The EBooks allow users to adjust text characteristic to suit his/her preference; such adjustments may include font size, background, and type among others to suit the user’s eyes. EBooks also allow other user-friendly aspects, such as bookmarking, highlighting and addition of notes. This has a clear advantage over print sources that rely on markings or ear makings. The advantage of such making advantage is also evident through not permanence, EBooks’ bookmarks or highlights are removable. The advantage of EBooks also arise from the advantage of hyper-linking, it allows jumping between chapters. The EBook library also responds to the security needs of both the user and the library. In instances of confidential products, EBooks allow encryption of documents or use of passwords to avoid copying (Miller & Ruth 2000).
It is also impertinent to note a prominent electronic book advantage to the users, which is its ability to allow multiple use or accessibility. The users can access the same document or file at the same time, the users may either download the information from the library server or view it whilst offline. The allowance of viewing material while not online is an advantage since web servers are in a structure that allows you to view information on an external link while online.
Despite their growing adaptability in the libraries, EBook continues to show inherent disadvantages affecting their spread or overall adoption at the expense of native print library. Some disadvantages emanate from the entrenchment of user’s culture. Readers may have an attachment to reading paper, there is a fond bond; deriving power from tradition that brings a lock in effect. Library users as such, continue to feel obligated to continue with the same old system. This sentimental aspect also comes with another lock-in effect referred to as the lending loss. Library users of print material have a craving for a form of material that still affords them an opportunity to lend without giving off their passwords, laptops or secrete information. It is more difficult to lend electronic books since they attract higher chances of copyright law violation. EBooks lack the lending aspect that inspires the charitable feeling inherent in traditional print material (Helfer 2000).
Prominent figures within the library discourse also blow the whistle on the usage of EBooks by users. Geoffrey Numberge of University of California (Bereley) and former president of the American Library Foundation Michael Gorman are vocal in pointing this out. Their professional opinion indicates that there may be a false sense that EBooks contain all the answers and replacement of the hard copy. Numberge argue that EBooks deny the users a sense of place; he contends that reading through a window does not allow a real ability to track progress, develop hands on mental consciousness of the story and make sense of the material. Gorman reiterates that EBooks rob of the users an opportunity to engage in reading fully, since ideas are pursuable to conclusion or new knowledge polished through completeness and consistency of reading. However, EBooks are characterized by interlinks, offers bits information in isolation through digital search results and more so by allowing page view results of the required information, an entire document may not be read. The user in the context through eBooks, as such, rarely understands information (Rothmam 2006).
Electronic material depends critically on the aspect known as format for accessibility. Format allows appropriate devices to be fitted with drives and software that can facilitate the access of such information. A major key challenge to EBooks is the lack of commonality in file format. EBooks have no specific format, which presents a bigger challenge to the library and the end user too. The traditional diffusion of mp3 format of songs may resemble the diffusion of EBooks, but unlike the electronic books, mp3 had a similar format. Still on formats, eBooks also offer a challenge that is less spoken of, involving usage and access. There is no requirement of teaching a user to use print material, but the same is not true for electronic books. It is a reality that the majority of users, especially the aging may not even uncompress zip files and in instances of unpopular or new formats, library users with less information will shy off or feel disadvantaged. The format also presents a disadvantage to the user on readability of the information; material with extensive drawings such as architecture may not be presented well to the viewer. Users in the fields of Economics or Business that show extensive usage of mathematics equations may not benefit from EBooks in comparison with hard copies (Dafron 2007).
The absence of a common file format introduces another key disadvantage, libraries must use diverse reading system and so must their users. The library user must have a particular combination of software and hardware especially because not many EBooks are packaged in the web versions apart from the Adobe Acrobat version. Most programs that compile EBooks can only be viewed through PCs or Windows platforms; this has the disadvantage to the library user who may be using an Apple Mac. The formats of electronic books available came to the library attached with some Digital Rights Management clause; this may affect the library and the user consequently. First, it is through the restriction of usage within a limited range of file formats, especially formats with ties to specific devices, although some offer compatibility across several devices. The absence of a common format also mean that libraries must employ more than one file platform, this platforms apart from requiring rigorous verification codes during navigation, they also create more confusion to the librarians and users (Noorhidawati & Gibb 2008).
Also, tied to the advantage of accessibility of a vast material is a disadvantage. Though not more prevalent within a library context, there is a chance of obtaining low value files through usage of electronic books. This risk is existent despite attempts of libraries to offer users quality and authentic materials because libraries are not the sources but recipients of already prepared materials. The disadvantage arises from the ease of posting a low quality work. It is more expensive to publish a book, and in most countries, books are subjected to rigorous professional stages before printing and distribution; this lowers the chance of low quality or authentic materials reaching a library and the user as a consequence (Hawkins 2000).
Electronic books are within the technology domain, which happens to an area reporting the highest rate of obsoleteness of material. The fear is that the technology supporting the e-library platform may require regular changing and updating in the future. This will be expensive to the users, and at the same time, the machines they use to open EBooks may go obsolete as EBooks requiring modern machines is released. They will have to purchase newer equipment, or previous library files lose meaning. Additionally, despite the acceptance of computers as a part of today’s man, EBooks are a confinement to a sit or a room; an organizational library would be better off encouraging usage and reading of users through print material such as magazines. This is because the majority of the readers are the organization’s employees who would use this material during lunch, expeditions or on outdoor activities. Generally, users cum employees of such a library may have a feeling of doing an extension of work if they have to sit down either in the library in order to access the library material (Dafron 2007).