Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Feel Myself Being Pulled To The Dark Side...

In my continuing effort to bring you all sorts of e-book news, there is an interesting story in the NY Times about e-books and public libraries.
"Eager to attract digitally savvy patrons and capitalize on the growing popularity of electronic readers, public libraries across the country are expanding collections of books that reside on servers rather than shelves.

The idea is to capture borrowers who might not otherwise use the library, as well as to give existing customers the opportunity to try new formats."
Now there are a number of issues to be settled it seems. One is that these books can not, in the vast majority of cases, be downloaded to Kindles, because of Amazon propriety software. So let me see...if I choose an Evil Kindle, rather than the growing number of other e-readers, I cut myself off from major source of free books. Seems like more of an issue for the Kindle than the library or e-readers as a whole.
Then there is the issue that most libraries treat e-book loans like print copies, each 'copy' loaned out to one person at a time. So for a popular new book, there may be a 'line' just as there is for print books now. So the reader has a choice, as they do now, to buy it immediately or wait for a bit to get it free from a library.
And also there is the matter of now publishers feel about this issue of libraries and e-books.
"Publishers, inevitably, are nervous about allowing too much of their intellectual property to be offered free."
I am not really sure how that is any different from the issue of libraries and print books now. Can someone explain the difference to me? But regardless, if this format become more popular, which seems inevitable, I am sure in time it will all be settled.

I must say, I found this article quite thought provoking. Now, you know about my many concerns about e-books. No secret there. But if you combine the convenience of being able to instantly download a book, read it anywhere, anytime on a wide variety of devices from a PC to an e-book device to a cell phone for a 'loan' period of several weeks and then you make it FREE...ok, I must admit it, now you have my attention!

But I can't get that image of that prep school with the empty shelves from my mind... ;-)


  1. I don't know much about this, but I guess publishers are worried about the fact that you don't have to physically return the copy of the book you've borrowed - it is open to piracy.

    I would also be very tempted to get an ereader if I was able to download any book for free from the library. That would worry publishers, as it would reduce their sales. A very interesting development. I wonder how it is going to develop....

  2. You're right that the Kindle cannot take advantage of this feature. But the Sony Readers can, as can most of the other "smaller" eReaders. Unfortunately, in almost all eReader articles, nobody ever talks about Sony, the Cool-er, the iLiad, etc. It's always about Amazon. Hmm... is it any wonder Amazon is the "frontrunner" in the eReader race?

  3. an interesting move. I do check e-books out of the library. But I don't like the thought of empty library shelves either.

  4. I imagine piracy is the issue, as was said above. A library would have to buy the Ebook just as it would the print, but unless they've come up with some way to absolutely prevent copying and sharing the Ebook, that is a concern. However, it's also a concern with Ebooks that are sold by publishers.

    In general, there will be those who will download and those who will borrow the print copy. Two audiences that broaden the reader range. Just like some borrow and some buy. Giving away free Ebooks has actually increased print sales for many authors. It gets their name out farther. That's a good thing.

  5. Interesting post since I am trying to figure out whether I want (or have the money for) a Kindle!

  6. Somewhere in my living room I am laughing an evil laugh...

  7. I read an article recently about various universities attempting to use ebooks as a way to cut costs and save paper. The jist of the article was that it backfired- students were printing articles and books off anyway- because an ebook just isn't as conducive to note-taking, margin-scribbling, or highlighting, all key aspects of many people's study habits.

    I'm not sure about ebooks. The seem like an oddity now, and I feel like I should scoff; after all, I love physical books and a computer screen just isn't the same. But who knows what will happen?

  8. farmlane, it seems that after the borrow period, your library e-book would no longer be accessible. at least that is the idea.

    anon. child...just another reason I have MAJOR issues with the Evil Kindle and it propriety software.

    kaye, I don't think my library has gotten to e-books yet.

    LK, no matter what the technology, someone will find a way around it.

    Louise, I might suggest a reader other than the Kindle. I know it gets all the press, but I really think it is very limiting in your choices.

    Jenners..oh, is that what that noise is. I thought it was a sick cat or

    Maggie, I have read the same thing. I think Amazon gave a bunch of Kindles to Harvard..and the student were not too happy, had a lot of serious issues with the Kindles.
    perhaps for the convenience it gives the recreational reader, but for more 'serious' uses, I think e-readers still have too many problems.

  9. was Princeton, not Harvard.


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