Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

BookWorm Electronic Book Reader

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

BookWorm Electronic Book Reader

Article excerpt

Because of its capacity to store and quickly search huge amounts of data, compact disc has found a niche in trade catalogs, bibliographic databases, and, more recently, encyclopedias. With its ability to link disparate information and multimedia capacity, CD producers now hope to revolutionize traditional book publishing. But this segment of the industry is still in its infancy and the "electronic book" has yet to be proven. Nonetheless, several companies, including the Voyager Company, Sony, Harper & Row, and Communications and Information Technologies (CIT), are releasing books on CD.

CIT has released two new electronic books on CD for its BookWorm Reader software. Both titles are annotated anthologies of 19th century literature targeting high school and introductory college freshman English classes. After the Fire collects excerpts of the fiction of such American authors as Stephen Crane, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, and Henry James. Making the Modern selects poems of nearly a dozen English romantics such as John Clare, John Keats, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

CIT's product consists of two separately purchased components: the Bookworm Reader software and the electronic book on CD. With the BookWorm Reader and CD, the user can read text from the screen, display annotations, view video and sound clips, and search unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Currently, CIT's catalog lists about a dozen CDs comprising copyright-free English and American literature titles.

The Reader displays text as a page in a book. Colorful graphics support that metaphor and pages are turned by clicking on page corners similar to those on Apple's Note Pad. With only about 175 words displayed per page, text is pleasantly easy to read from the screen. Text can be printed or copied to the Macintosh clipboard, but only one page at time. This is further aggravated because standard commands such as cut and copy deviate from the familiar Macintosh routines.

Where BookWorm differs from other CD book products, however, is that it allows users to create their own annotations, margin notes, and video or sound files. These files are saved on the user's hard drive, but are displayed as annotations when text on the CD is selected. Educators can use this feature to add annotations, notes, or tests specific to their students' needs to either of the CDs. …

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