E-Books From LexisNexis Canada

Two weeks ago in my post on indexes in law-related e-books I made mention of the 3 new e-book offerings from LexisNexis Canada that are included for free for purchasers of the hard copy.

I have now tested those e-books on my iPad and thought I would pass on my comments.

The three titles are:

The Practitioner’s Criminal Code, 2011 Edition
Ontario Superior Court Practice, 2011 Edition
LegisPratique – Code de procédure civile annoté, édition 2010

The books are in EPUB format and were easy to download and transfer on to my PDA by adding them to the Book portion of iTunes and synching my iPad, where they show up on my iBook bookshelf, as per the following screenshot (realize I purchase most of my books using Amazon Kindle so my iBook bookshelf is otherwise quite sparse):

Screenshot of iBook bookshelf showing the 3 new e-books from LexisNexis Canada

LexisNexis provides a detailed FAQ on their website that explains about how to load and use the e-books and confirms that the e-book version does not “time bomb” or expire, which is a nice feature for those people wanting to maintain an archival copy. Of course, e-book reader software is usually freely available for a wide variety of devices, including desktop and laptop computers in addition to most PDAs.

Although I did most of my testing using the Ontario Superior Court Practice, since that title was most closely related to my practice, it appears that all three books work in a similar fashion.

There is a scrollable table of contents that is hyperlinked to take you deeper into the book. Depending on what section of the book you click on, there may be further hyperlinks within in the deeper content. For example, in the main table of contents there was a link to the Class Proceedings Act, 2002. When you click on that link, you are taken to the section of the book containing that Act where there is then a table of contents to the Act that is clickable by section, as shown by the “blue” links in the following screenshot:

Screenshot of LexisNexis Canada's Ontario Superior Court Practice showing clickable Table of Contents

Depending on the content in the print version, there is often commentary or case annotations provided. In the e-book version, footnotes in the text are hyperlinked but references to cases generally are not hyperlinked (although I noticed where there was mention of the Ontario Court Forms website in the text, a URL to the public site was provided).

The ability to change font size was useful since I found a smaller font size necessary to get more text on a single screen.

Navigating was fairly easy but for some sections of the text where there are not hyperlinked sections there would be a lot of “flipping” of pages to find the passage of interest. Copying and highlighting of text comes standard, as does the ability to choose from several fonts, font size, and screen brightness.

Also, search seemed extremely slow, although I assume that has nothing to do with LexisNexis and perhaps more with the format or other technological reasons. Searching on the word Internet took the unit close to 80 seconds to start showing results (as seen in the screenshot below), and repeating this exercise several times after opening and closing the book did not improve performance (i.e., it did not necessarily seem to be a search-indexing issue):

Screenshot of search results in LexisNexis's Ontario Superior Court Practice

The index that is in the hard copy is in the e-book version, although the page numbers in the e-book version are not hyperlinked.

All in all, the experience was better than I anticipated and to the extent that the e-book versions were free (with purchase of the hard copy), I guess one can’t complain. I imagine the market for print copies of these titles and other “desk copy” titles will remain strong in the short term. As such, I wonder to what extent publishers will continue to invest on improvements to the e-book versions. LexisNexis Canada is to be applauded for the effort. Enahncements for future e-book versions would include more extensive or robust internal navigations, hyperlinking of cases (presumably to the publisher’s proprietary databases, one would think), and improved search functions.

To the extent I am otherwise usually carrying my iPad with me most times, having these e-books available to provide easy access to the applicable court rules or legislation (along with some commentary) is useful and would be useful for lawyers in court or otherwise on the go.

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Comments

  1. First of all, congratulations to LNC for getting on the ebook train. I remember when the newsletter/journals were first in PDF and a former colleague referred to it as an evolution; once again, LNC’s print has evolved.

    However, to do justice to LNC’s ebook offerings, how does their ebook experience compare to that offered by other publishers/info providers? I’m aware that a comparative post has been done focusing on indexes but is there a post comparing the overall ebook experience from other legal info providers? If there is, it would be very helpful if I could be pointed to such. Thanks in advance.

  2. Thanks Verna. I would hope to undertake a broader comparison. My narrow interest was e-books on the iPad when the reality is that many e-books are available when using a desktop or laptop when logged into Westlaw Canada, LexisNexis Canada, CCH Online, Carswell eReference Library, Irwin Law and other databases.

    I find a fair degree of variability in the user experience between the different e-books, depending on publisher.

    At one point I was going to create lists of which law-related e-book titles are available in Canada but I think it would be almost too much work. Internally at my firm, our research guides by topics provide links to any available e-books.

    I will consider a more comprehensive post on this topic.

    Past posts by me on e-books include:

    http://www.slaw.ca/2009/01/07/update-re-law-related-e-books/

    http://www.slaw.ca/2008/04/21/digital-law-books-redux/

    http://www.slaw.ca/2007/09/19/digital-law-books-in-canada/