Ebooks, again

Every blog post should have a good image. I don't have a good image for ebooks, so this sloth will have to do. They're really neat animals. Carol Schaffer took this picture, and you can find the original picture here: http://goo.gl/eQX0A

Now that Penguin has pulled out of lending ebooks to libraries, that leaves 2 of the 5 big publishers left in the library lending ebook game.

I don’t know about you, but the whole situation depresses me.  It’s not because there are less and less ebooks and not many way other ways to get ebooks into libraries, but because it feels like every time something happens in regards to ebooks and libraries, the same thing happens over and over again.  People involved with libraries recommend that you:

  • Cancel your subscription to Overdrive
  • Quit buying physical books from these publishers
  • Write the publishers and voice your concern
  • Talk to your patrons about what the publishers are doing
  • BoycottTweet/Blog/+1/Facebook a lot about it

And I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong.  I’m a firm believer in people doing whatever they feel is best for them to do at that moment in time.  But it all just feels like we’ve had these discussions before and it’s led to…the same thing happening.

I don’t have a clear answer of what libraries should be doing, but what I keep coming back to is this: The ebook wars have given us an excellent opportunity to forever change the idea of what a library means.  Long before ebooks came along, we were doing so much more for our patrons (reference, the library as a space, programming) but we were still known as the “place where all of the books are”.  Now that we can’t have ebooks, we can work towards getting rid of that stereotype.  We can change our image to include everything we do: we provide space, we make stuff, we inspire people, and we lend out a lot of neat things.

To me, this is a beautiful way forward.




  1. While I understand where you are coming from and I adore the idea of libraries as meeting/creative spaces, I can’t get behind a full boycott of publishers who do not make digital content available to libraries. Who does it really hurt? The publishers? Maybe a little. But the real impact is going t be on the patrons who either come into a brick-and-mortar library or a virtual branch looking for something (say a Penguin classic). If libraries don’t have the title – especially if it is a new, popular one from an author they have carried in the past – how can we expect patrons to understand why? Some may, sure, but I’m more willing to believe the general takeaway will be that “libraries don’t have what I want” and circulation and door-count numbers will drop.

    Like so many things in our field, there’s no easy answer.

  2. Still (luckily): a lot is available in the public domain and creative commonse.

    htp://www.freeliterature.org links to more than 600 sites worldwide and in many languages – and also supports Project Gutenberg by producing e-books.

    Enjoy! and consider helping out with the digitizing?

  3. Libraries should never have allowed Overdrive to become the provider of this service. We should have set up our own nationwide service long ago, rather than tying ourselves to a for-profit vendor.

Leave a Reply to Andromeda Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s