Are Sony Readers Checking Out Your Library?
Last week in Denver the American Library Association's held their Mid-Winter meeting. One interesting thing to come out of it is a new cooperative initiative between Sony and the OCLC's (Online Computing Library
Many here will already be familiar with NetLibrary, but the nutshell version is that they focus on making more material available electronically to more people. You can find the long version here
Now NetLibrary has worked out an arrangement with Sony to use Sony Digital Readers in that effort. They're going to be offering their users access to what they are calling "Sony Reader Mobile Collections" (five of them to start with), which are basically small collections of books that are readable on the Sony Reader -- all properly licensed, of course.
But there is a bit more to it than just the content. They have evidently worked out arrangements to use Readers in the mix, both on-site in the libraries, and for patron check-out as the individual library chooses to arrange, details of that apparent arrangement are not currently available.
“OCLC member libraries have indicated a strong interest in providing a mobile device that library patrons can use to read eBooks on the go,” said Chip Nilges, OCLC Vice President, Business Development. “The NetLibrary collections available with Sony’s Reader Digital Book offer great variety for readers with different interests, and make it possible for library patrons to enjoy many eBooks on one portable device that offers state-of-the-art readability.”
Library staff will handle the transfer of the content to the devices themselves, which relieves nervous users of that particular techno-hurdle.
This is part of libraries' efforts to keep up with changing times and habits amongst their patrons.
“In an era of diminishing time and resources, libraries can provide valuable convenience and flexibility for their patrons with downloadable books and the opportunity to read them electronically,” said Susan Hildreth, State Librarian of California. “Twenty-first century libraries are successful when they offer content in the widest variety of formats.
This whole arrangement goes to support Sony's repeated claim that they are less concerned with locking their customers into buying content from Sony for their Readers, and more concerned with providing a good overall experience with the devices themselves:
“From the beginning, we have emphasized the importance of choice when it comes to content for the Reader,” Haber said. “In addition to our Sony eBook store with its strong selection of premium titles, libraries offer another option for those who prefer to borrow books at no cost without having to leave home.”
I see this as a hopeful sign that e-reading will continue to penetrate more and more deeply into the general public's awareness. Though I do see some rather obvious concerns about lending out hardware to folks which is, after all, both rather pricey and rather delicate. What do you think? Brilliant, forward-thinking move, or hair-brained scheme, destined for failure from the outset?
Sony's press release is here, the OCLC and NetLibrary don't seem to have anything on it yet on their sites.