Pages in peril: what we may lose as ebooks go mainstream

Duntemann, Jeff
December 2008
Indexer;Dec2008, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p148
Academic Journal
The ebook industry is growing asymmetrically: Far more novels are being read than nonfiction texts, and those are generally read as reflowable text on small devices. Uniform pagination is seen as unnecessary, raising the risk that ebook technology will mature without a standard mechanism for citing pages in research footnotes and discussion, making traditional source attribution of older works impossible. The author suggests a publisher-side 'master view' of books including both print-image pagination and matching page markers embedded in reflowable ebooks. Appropriate ebook rendering software would allow human readers to jump to ebook page locations identical to those in print editions of the same work. 'Decimal' page references (such as p. 206.339) could allow precise citation of sentences or even individual words in an ebook without sacrificing human comprehension of pagination in printed works. Such a system would preserve page-based footnoting in both directions between existing print books and ebooks.


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