We all knew it would happen eventually. But I, for one, am a little surprised it’s happening this soon.
The venerable New York Times bestseller list is getting an update. Specifically, a separate listing of bestsellers in electronic format. Here’s the paper’s announcement:
Also, if you haven’t seen it, check out TPL’s holiday guide to e-book readers. It covers the major brands and how they operate in a library environment. Grab it here!
The library world gets very excited at any mention of e-readers. While we loves us some print books, many librarians are also tech fetishists, especially when it comes to the literary world. When Amazon launched the Kindle, there was talk of a near-immediate switch to digital collections. Unfortunately, the licensing doesn’t really allow for library lending. There are also financial and legal concerns on the publishers’ end causing delays in the adoption of e-books, outlined in this great overview by the New Yorker.
When Barnes and Noble released the Nook last year, the library world again got its hopes up. The press releases went out of their way to tout the lending feature. The library buzz very quickly died down, however, when it was revealed that the feature didn’t mean “lending” the way libraries think of it. Specifically, it was limited to a handful of eligible titles, could only be shared with “friends,” and could only be done once. Ever.
Then there’s the iPad. It’s another device with a proprietary file format that prevents sharing. You want a title? You gotta buy it. The thing is, Apple is a juggernaut these days. If Steve Jobs introduces a product, people buy it. Lots of people. On the one hand, this could be good. It could push the publishing industry to use one file format for the darned things, speeding adoption (remember when nobody bought hi-def movies because neither Blu-Ray nor HD could take hold?). Moreover, the iPad is a device that can run numerous “apps.” In other words, it’s not necessarily a one-trick pony like the Kindle.
So Barnes and Noble’s announcement today that it’s releasing an app for the iPad, including — again — the ability to lend books, means that we can pretty much count on the literary world working itself into a frenzy over the prospect of e-books in the library. What the early reports aren’t highlighting, though, is that the lending feature, trademarked as LendMe, is the same as that used in the Nook. So, once again, no library lending.
That’s not to say e-books aren’t in the library’s future. Many librarians are as eager as anyone to see that happen. But until the publishing world, book vendors, hardware manufacturers and lawyers can all reach an agreement, the big change isn’t going to happen.
In the meantime, we are doing what we can to get electronic materials to people. The Twinsburg library maintains a page of electronic resources. There are free, out-of-copyright materials in any number of file formats. For newer materials, the Overdrive service via the CLEVNET digital collection has a growing selection of e-reader titles in older formats (like pdf, e-pub and more). Check it out!