Sunday, November 25, 2007

Future technology for libraries

Take Amazon's Kindle reader, or the XO (One laptop per child), and add the International Children's Digital Library and you would have a very low variable cost library for children. But the fixed cost is enormous... At $400 per electronic reader (maybe $200 if you got a bulk discount) and 20 readers per library, the "book collection" would have a fixed cost of $8000-$4000... this is well more than our present cost for providing traditional paper books. The electronics have the disadvantage of requiring electricity to recharge, personnel to manage, internet connections to download more books (the nearest connection for most FAVL libraries is several hours and $20 roundtrip away). The readers also may be tempting to thieves. So far we have found that children's books are pretty immune to theft. But someday the cost will be low enough, and the collections big enough, that electronic readers will be the books of village libraries in rural Africa.

Addition to post: My colleague at SCU Center for Science Technology and Society visited Brewster Kahle of Internet Archive for a demo of XO.... it looks amazing but my early position still stands!

No comments: