Sarah’s recent post – Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle got me thinking – WHY is she a library traitor? I know I know, but hear me out.
I have a Kindle.
I love my Kindle.
You know what I do with my Kindle? I buy books, books I didn’t check out from the library (the horror!).
But here’s the thing, wait for it, I’ve always bought books! Books I didn’t check out from the library (gasp!) and I’ve also always used the library. Really I have been a heavy library user since I can remember. From an early age I read print books. Later I learned to love audiobooks on CD or cassette and when movies became available I checked those out too, later still I checked out and downloaded ebooks and eaudibooks. But during all this time nothing changed – I never stopped buying books (or going to the movie, or renting movies or buying movies). In fact I buy so many books that I pay the $25 a year for the Barnes & Noble membership card because I really do spend enough for it to be worth. Before I got my MLS I worked as a clerk in a larger library system during the day and on the nights and weekends at the local Barnes and Nobles, and guess what I saw many of the same people in both places. Buying books and borrowing from the library are not mutually exclusive. As I see it I bought and borrowed books before I had a Kindle I will continue to buy and borrow books after I have a Kindle. I am not borrowing from the library less.
I get Sararh’s point and concern. IF my library had ebooks and IF they had a wide selection with choices that appealed to me, nevermind the insanely high prices they would have to pay for a service that only a select group of patrons can use, those ebooks would not work on my Kindle thanks to choices by Amazon.com. But they don’t, so I bought a Kindle, guilt free, because even with the selection available from my library there aren’t enough choices to convince me that a Nook or Sony was a better option and well, lets face it, my library still has a huge number of choices avialable as print or book on CD or cassette or downloadable audio or ebook which I can read on my computer or Android phone thanks to the OverDrive app. I got a Kindle because it allows me to take notes and highlight in my books (something the library frowns upon and part of the reason I’ve always bought books) and access those notes online (something the library doesn’t offer).
Sure OverDrive and other vendors are doing their best to provide eBooks for libraries. But the process is cumbersome. If it goes well great! But if it doesn’t the pitfalls are plentifiul and woe to the techie attempting to troubleshoot them over the phone.
The truth is this the ebook readers that are out there were created to make a profit for the creator – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Borders etc. Sure some of them have allowed library ebooks to be loaded, but its not their primary purpuse and they sure as hell aren’t gonna help you figure it out. They are gonna sell you an ereader and put a boot in your butt on the way out the door. Need help with a book you bought from our store? No problem. Need help with a free book from the library or somewhere else? Too bad you’re on your own mate, nevermind that we lured you with that promise when we sold you the device. Unhappy? Angry? Gonna leave us for another ereader? Go for it! Just remember your books wont work on their devices.
This annoys me like crazy but is it really a problem? I mean I don’t expect my Play Station Games to play on an Xbox. So why should my Kindle books work on a Nook? Except that I can sell my PlayStation and the games if I decide to get an Xbox. And I can’t sell my ebooks. Except the truth is I seldom sell my books and never loan them. Bobbi doesn’t loan things, not books, not movies not games (judge all you like). So how big of an issue is that I can’t lend my Kindle books? And as for selling them I have a pile of hardback nonfiction I’ve been trying to sell for a reasonable price on Amazon.com for 6 months now and they aren’t moving, so apparently while I could sell them, they aren’t selling either.
I don’t know how the ebook/ereader wars will play out. I do know this – I am leery of anyone who claims to. I am leery of anyone who claims there will be only one winner (we all drive different cars, why can’t we have different ereaders?)
But there is a problem and this one I am certain of – the ebook market is still playing out. Will they replace books? Supplement them? Fail all together? No one knows. But what we do know is that libraries are being cut out of the equation. That is a problem. I believe libraries are the key to closing the widening digital divide and participation gap we see. Are ebooks are part of that solution? Maybe. And for that reason alone we need a voice.
Read More, Learn More, Get Involved:
- Library Renewal their goal is “to find new econtent solutions for libraries”
- 2010 Summary: Libraries are Still Screwed – very good read about ebooks and libraries including the comments.
- Library eBooks can be Frustrating!
- I am a frustrated eBook (non) user
- advocacy and econtent (i’m also a frustrated ebook user)
- eBooks and DRM: libraries advocating for what?
- A Close Shave
- There’s an App for That! Libraries and Mobile Technology: An Introduction to Public Policy Considerations (pdf)
- Libraries and ebooks: tough issues that it’s time to debate