A guide to the accessibility benefits and obstacles of major electronic book formats, including technical formats, e-book readers and reader software, has been published by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
E-book readers covered by the document (
www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/readingwriting/ebooks ) include dedicated e-book readers; e-book reading software; and e-book readers for mobile phones.
Dedicated readers include the Amazon Kindle (benefits include text-to-speech; obstacles are that text-to-speech currently applies to book content only, though Amazon have announced it will have audible menus by mid-2010); plus the Bookeen Cybook Gen 3, Sony Pocket and Sony Touch (benefits of all three include various text size options; obstacles include no text-to-speech feature)
The guide also provides a list of retailers and websites from which e-books and readers can be purchased or downloaded.
E-books are becoming more widespread in public libraries around the UK, with many branches embracing the lending of digital books, a model already widely adopted in the US. According to a report in a recent issue of E-Access Bulletin’s sister publication, E-Government Bulletin, the new breed of library will not only make an ever-wider range of research and searchable reference information available over the web to their users, but promote the temporary lending of electronic books of all kinds: www.headstar.com/egblive/?p=433 .