I have a modest proposal. Every large library in the state - heck, in the country - should buy 10 electronic book readers and allow patrons to check them out for two weeks, just like real books.
I know that money is tight in Libraryworld, and that acquisition budgets are slim. It would be nice if Amazon and Sony donated their respective e-books, Kindles and Readers, to libraries as a good-will gesture, but there is no evidence they plan to do so.
Why do this? Because this is where libraries need to be. I worry that libraries, even the newest ones, risk becoming fortresses buttressed by books, protecting Gutenberg’s technology for reasons of principle rather than pragmatism. Librarians need to educate themselves, and us, about the possibilities and limitations of digital books.
There is a significant flaw in his argument, and a simple cost-benefit analysis will demonstrate it.
If a library focuses on 10 ebook readers and has 1k ebooks, only 10 people at a time can use those thousand ebooks. That's a significant capital investment which will boost the user base by 10 people. On the other hand, if a library focuses on the ebook itself and has a 1k collection of public domain ebooks, an infinite number of people can use them.
There is a vast storehouse of free ebooks out there. And that's why libraries should get into ebooks, not hardware.