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Old 12-22-2009, 06:03 AM   #1
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Libraries should buy ebook readers (from The Boston Globe)

Quote:
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.
from:
http://www.boston.com/ae/books/artic..._want_to_read/
********

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.
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Old 12-22-2009, 06:46 AM   #2
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I can't access the full article from work (thanks WebSense!), but from the blurb you provided and your comment I don't think it's a totally bad idea.
You are absolutely right in terms of cost-benefit analysis, but one benefit of this approach is to raise "awareness" in public about electronic book readers and availibility of e-books in general.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:01 AM   #3
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I disagree to your analysis. You can still have an infinite amount of people accessing the thousands of ebooks that the library offers. The limit could apply to the ebook devices being lent out.
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:18 AM   #4
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Swedish libraries has ebooks that you could borrow, and has had that for quite some time. Last I checked alot of them was in epub. There is not a huge amount of books available yet but e-readers havent really started to sell here in sweden so it might be better later on. You can borrow them for a month and then you will have to re-borrow them again if you havent finished the book. Pretty nice. But I see a problem here for the libraries, with a physical book there is a certain desire to have it in the bookshelf, with ebooks the reader has already overcome that desire and if he can borrow most books there will be a very little need for him to buy any. It is perhaps more of a problem for the publishers but if the publishers dont want their books to be available at the libraries then it is the libraries problem also.

Just some toughts on the subject
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Old 12-22-2009, 07:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wefrem View Post
I disagree to your analysis. You can still have an infinite amount of people accessing the thousands of ebooks that the library offers. The limit could apply to the ebook devices being lent out.
Except that he's only talking about checking out the device, not the ebooks. While you are correct in that one could check out the ebooks as well as the devices, he is only talking about the latter and thus his argument is flawed.
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:33 AM   #6
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ebook readers are pretty fragile. i see that as being an issue since most people aren't really that careful, and many couldn't afford to pay for a reader they broke.
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Old 12-22-2009, 09:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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.
That is incorrect. The idea would be that people that borrow an e-reader will get the taste of it and buy one themselves. So the lending of the e-books isn't limited to those 10 people who have borrowed the e-readers. In other words, the e-reader should become viral.
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Old 12-22-2009, 09:59 AM   #8
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Doubt this will happen. An analogy will be stores lent VHS/DVD players instead of the tapes/discs.

And even if one doesn't have an ebook reader, he/she can borrow an epub and use a reader on a computer.
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bminata View Post
Doubt this will happen. An analogy will be stores lent VHS/DVD players instead of the tapes/discs.

And even if one doesn't have an ebook reader, he/she can borrow an epub and use a reader on a computer.
This did happen, back when VCRs were quite expensive. You could rent a player along with the tapes. Once the price point came down to where most people owned the players, stores stopped renting them out and only rented the tapes.

Of course this way back in the day when video stores where all mom and pop operations, before Blockbuster and the like. Perhaps you're not old enough to remember this?

-Marcy
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:16 PM   #10
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I'm pretty sure his logic is based on the idea of getting eBook Readers into libraries to get people used to eBooks, and introduce both libraries and readers to the new technology-that way the libraries can "stock" more eBooks, readers will buy their own eBooks, etc.

edit: similar to the VCR analogy that Marcy above just mentioned
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:18 PM   #11
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you could even rent the nintendo etc to play games
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:19 PM   #12
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you could even rent the nintendo etc to play games
We did that with the new consoles at the time (Genesis! SNES!), just to try them out before choosing which one to get!

(Ok, we ended up buying all of them, but still...)
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Old 12-22-2009, 04:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
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.
Who needs a library to access public domain ebooks? The whole point of a library is to allow people to share resources that wouldn't be available to any single person because of their cost. That means libraries should focus on making available copyrighted non-free ebooks to their subscribers. There is a need for a new legal framework to allow libraries to lend out ebooks in the same way as they do paper books, without all the restrictions publishers would like to impose.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:01 AM   #14
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Who needs a library to access public domain ebooks? The whole point of a library is to allow people to share resources that wouldn't be available to any single person because of their cost. That means libraries should focus on making available copyrighted non-free ebooks to their subscribers. There is a need for a new legal framework to allow libraries to lend out ebooks in the same way as they do paper books, without all the restrictions publishers would like to impose.
There's aready the Adobe Content Server used by a fair few libraries. I am sure there are other products out there that serve the same purpose.

I think this is definitely the way forward for libraries into the digital age - as an added service to the normal library business.

I have read somewhere (I think it's in the UK) about libraries having a fair deal of success with this especially with the older population and people who aren't very mobile. This is where libraries lending out e-readers would help with people getting familiar with the technology.

Also, something tells me there is a thread or 10 on this forum discussing this issue already
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:57 AM   #15
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In Denmark you can get a Sony PSR-505 from a library, at least here in Copenhagen. They don't have a whole lot though, so the waiting period is a couple of months. Too bad, since I'd really like to borrow one - and often.

You can also get ePub ebooks, but I don't think the selection is very big yet.
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