Public Libraries and E-Books

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Public Libraries and E-Books

Librarian Patience Has Run out on E-Book Lending Issues, Library Association Says

Patience has run out for librarians around the unsolved issue of e-book lending at libraries, according to American Library Association president Maureen Sullivan.

Speaking at a private gathering of publishers organized by the Association of American Publishers, Sullivan was explaining why earlier this week the ALA sent a strongly worded open letter to publishers about the need to figure out way for publishers to sell libraries e-books for “equitable use at a reasonable price.”

Later in the week, the AAP sent its own letter in response to the ALA letter, citing anti-trust concerns and other reasons for a lack of collective publisher action and criticizing the ALA’s letter in light of the private audience the association would have the AAP’s New York offices on 5th Avenue later that week....

While there has been progress in the eyes of the ALA, it hasn’t been without setbacks. It recently came to light that Hachette, which makes its back-list of books available to libraries for purchase as e-books, raised the prices on its digital offerings to libraries by an average of 104%.

David Climenhaga Blog Entry from last year: Electronic book price increase a low blow to public libraries

Great Britain announces a public review of electronic publishing, lending and public libraries

Previous babble threads:

Are books dead? An interesting debate
Amazon's Kindle


Issues Pages: 
Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Last weekend I went to the National Book Fest held over two days in DC (which was incredibly busy) and they were plugging the new digital book mobile and library e-book system. It garnered a lot of exposure, and I overheard a women ask where she could get the card, and then was exposed to the library system. (as a side note, the DC public education system and educational outreach has A LOT of problems and is even worse than the Ontario public education system, so it was not at all shocking to hear that someone did not know where their local library was or how they could use it).

I've gone back and forth over the e-book thing, but have recently started to use it because I have very limited access to Canadian literature here, and have started to use both the DC library and attempted to you the VPL network of digital lending.

That being said I still competely use books (have yet to find my e-book sources) and sometimes find this polarized debate of 'are books dead' to be fruitless.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

I will not buy e-books that impose Digital Restrictions Management on readers.   That's also why I won't buy any of the e-readers that are on the market...because they are all electronic tools that aid in imposing DRM on the end user.

The reader should have the same rights with electronic books that they have with "dead tree" books.    I can lend a dead tree book to anyone I want to lend it to and as many times as I want to lend it.   I can give it away or I can sell it in a yard sale.    Also, some folks are able to make a living selling used books.

One of my heroes, science fiction writer and digital freedom activist Cory Doctorow sells "dead tree" copies of his books.   But on the digital side of things he encourages readers to make digital copies of his books and he makes them available for download on his site.    His only rules are one file per digital format and that readers are not to use a format that imposes DRM on the reader.

Here's an example

Doctorow has said that in the 21st century, if you assume that people aren't making copies of your art then you are not making contemporary art.

Here's one of his articles from The Guardian last spring "Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers"

One of the other "back door" ways to impose DRM on readers is by only releasing an e-book that is readable on a single device and only downloadable from a single vendor using a single proprietary software programme.   A certain progressive website did something like this recently.

Since I don't own one of the $400-800 devices required to get this file there's no way that I could convert it into something that everyone could read.

Until the digital world changes, I think I'll stick to dead tree books.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I don't have an e-reader, but I use e-books all the time which I access on a laptop or desktop computer. These books are primarily books of criticism, but also older works of fiction -- they are books I want as references, but they are either too expensive too own or not worth the price for how much i use them, and probably popular enough that they are frequently out of the library (academics tend to take books out indefinitely until someone recalls it). So quite apart from the DRM on the device, the propreitary restrictions on the books themselves--and the horrible desktop delivery methods, are a large concern for me.

It would be way easier to just download the book in pdf format--but usually, if I can download it at all, I can only download 100-page-max increments, or use a special kind of Adobe reader that is not standard with most lab computers. Plus it's only there for 14-days (even though if I took the same book out of the library, I could renew it virtually forever). It's a giant pain, and clearly just a needless barrier erected because they believe with enough headache more people will just buy the book.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

PDF and EPUB are the web standards for the distribution of electronic documents.     One can read electronic documents in these formats on vitually any computing device manufactured in the last 10-15 years with whatever software one chooses to use.

Progressive organizations should aim to alleviate the digital divide and not contribute to it.    This particular progressive website is contributing to the digital divide by requiring the use of a $400-800 elite device.    It's just plain wrong.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture