Friday, January 14, 2011

EBooks in the Blogosphere

For those of you who attended this Monday’s Librarian’s Committee meeting, you may remember me mentioning that libraries across North America have also seen a dramatic increase in their eBook usage since Christmas. In the days following December 25, OverDrive experienced some outages as they grappled with the flood of users to their sites. Earlier this month, Stephen Abram posted twice on his blog – Stephen’s Lighthouse – about this phenomenon sweeping libraries and the publishing world (eBooks: Change Happening Faster and 200% Increase in eBook Checkouts at Libraries).

Beyond this, some very interesting discussions have come out regarding the purchasing of the Kindle. In a post entitled Why I am a library traitor and love the Kindle, Librarian in Black confessed to loving her Kindle for the fact that it is an incredibly user-friendly device and synonymously hating it for being unable to access library eBooks with it. Librarian by Day responded to this announcement with her take on the issue: eBooks and eReaders: There Can Be Only One. She makes a number of excellent points in her post (definitely worth a read), one of which I would like to dissect here.

While LBD is quick to point out that companies that make eReaders have a vested interest in making it easy to buy their own books and hard as nails to access free content, I feel like she leaves out the other half of the equation. Companies that provide libraries with eBooks have a stake in this too and even if they are offering cumbersome interfaces and limited selection now, they are going to have to step up their game if they want to continue playing.

This is not to say that we should sit idly by but we, as advocators of our service, should take heart that it will get better. In the interim, we must persevere by fumbling with devices that we have never seen, reading instructions, forums, and the like to better understand how to do things, and producing our own guides to help our patrons. Because after all, we are not alone.

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