Earlier this week I saw this recent announcement stating Safari Books are now available on mobile devices and mobile devices users can now share content using the “Share This” feature, take notes, tag, and save content in custom folders too.
I was excited about this. I know there are some people who don’t like or understand the idea of reading an article let alone a book on a 2.5×3 inch screen, but there are more and more people doing it these days. It is a growing usage trend. So I figured if Safari is offering it then it would be nice to offer it to people in my library who don’t mind reading on a small screen.
What a disaster. First I went to Safari through our library page (on my iPhone) and got the same old Safari screen that is not optimized for a mobile device. So I decided to try the URL that is mentioned on Safari’s website http://m.safaribooksonline.com. That didn’t work, it wanted me to login and is primarily for non-library users. However that made me sit back and think and I realized we get our Safari books through Proquest. So I tried adding the mobile part to the Proquest URL. No dice. Since I am on an iPhone and my hospital blocks access to the Intranet to iPhones, iPads, and other “non approved” wireless devices, I thought my institutional access was the culprit. Nope.
It was only after I started looking around on the Internet to see if others had similar problems did I discover two things. First, the announcement about mobile devices is kind of old (despite BusinessWire’s September 27, 2010 date) because O’Reilly announced the beta version of Safari’s mobile site back in February 2009. Second, and more importantly, Proquest does not have a mobile version of Safari Online for institutions. According to The Distant Librarian who contacted ProQuest Technical Support, he was told, “The Mobile version of Safari Online is not available with an institutional account. I can send this on to the Product Manager as an enhancement but would not be able to give a time frame for when or even if it would be implemented.” He sent a request to Proquest for mobile access to the Safari books for institutions and as of June 27, 2010, Proquest has not responded.
I have done several Google searches to try and figure out if Proquest has decided to offer mobile access to Safari books to institutional subscribers and I haven’t found anything to indicate that they are even looking into it. I would love to hear from somebody at Proquest or from any other librarians who can either tell me that yes, Proquest is working on mobile friendly access or no, Proquest is not interested in providing mobile friendly access…and why. Just looking at the comments on Paul’s site (The Distant Librarian) and based on the growing number of mobile users this is a feature that is wanted by users.