Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive, who hosts the annual Books in Browsers conference, published a lovely reflection on the Bookserver project over at Publisher’s Weekly. He notes the ongoing debate about centralized aggregation (the global digital library model) vs. distribution of local silos of books (the traditional physical library model), noting the ways in which bookservers that support syndication and syncing have a foot in both worlds.
“The SheevaPlug Bookserver gets books closest to those who will use them. In areas with minimal networking, or where privacy matters, and the choice of reading materials may have immediate ramifications for liberty and survival, there are compelling reasons to get libraries down to the smallest, socially cohesive level. In many parts of the world that would be a village; in other societies, individualism makes the notion of walking around with all the books in the world in a single handheld device the ultimate distributed library.”
The whole article is worth reading.