Another blog about ebooks….

By Deb

E-books.  Everywhere I turn I’m hearing about them.  The library world is positively overwrought about the entire concept.  There are dire predictions that they will bring about the end of books and libraries.  Others say they are a passing fad.  Still others think they represent the passing of brick and mortar library buildings and will signal a new virtual library concept to replace what we know and love today.

Image: Maggie Smith /

Those who embrace the ebook concept are faced with a myriad of e-readers and a variety of formats.  Many of the formats work across most of the ereaders currently on the market, but there are some proprietary ones, like Kindle.  Kindle’s format initially only worked on a Kindle, though now you can get an “app” for multipurpose devices like phones, ipads, and computers.  But Kindle ebooks will still not work on other ereaders, like the Nook or Sony or the Kobo, or BeBook, or Google’s iRiver.   Some people have decided that the ereader itself is a passing fad and that in the near future they will go the way of the laser disc player and disappear completely, because ebooks will be viewed only on those multipurpose platforms.

Another issue that comes up is the terms of use for ebooks.  With a print book, you buy the book and you own your copy.  You can lend it to people, give it away, and it doesn’t change.   Once the words are on the page, they stay on the page.  It the book comes out in a second edition that is updated, edited, or more politically correct, the book you have in hand is still the original.  If you make notes in the margin they are yours.  With ebooks, you don’t own the book.  Most sellers reserve the right to change it, take it back, prevent you from lending it to anyone else, and even claim copyright ownership of any content you put on your ereader.  All of which amounts to: You pay for an expensive piece of hardware, and then you pay as much or more for an electronic file as you do for a paperback book, and then you don’t actually own the content and some corporation can swoop into your bedroom while you are asleep and delete the file and take your notes as well.  It makes a lot of people nervous. And in what is quite possibly the dumbest marketing move since the introduction of “new Coke”, Amazon actually did remove a version of the ebook 1984 from thousands of people’s Kindles after they had paid for it – thus proving to many people that what they feared about ebooks was a reality.

On the brighter side, there are many sites, such as Project Gutenberg, that have public domain ebooks available for free.  You still need a device of some kind, but just about any kind of ereader can use these.

Meanwhile, libraries are trying to figure out which way to go with this.  Do we embrace the ebook, or build virtual walls around our real books and prepare to man the fortifications?   If we welcome ebooks into our temples of the written word, how best do we share them?  How do we make them available to our patrons?  Do we expect those who come to us for ebooks to have their own devices to read them?  Do we lend ereaders with the ebooks?   Add to this that there are publishers who won’t allow libraries to lend their e-books at all, publishers that have arbitrary rules about how many times and in what manner an ebook can be lent, and publishers who make some books available only as ebooks so that a library can’t provide a physical copy of the book, and may not be able to provide the virtual one.  And, of course, none of this is free, and the budgets of libraries, like everyone else these days, are not exactly fat.  So it comes down to the question, if we buy ebooks what do we give up to pay for them?

So what is a library to do?  No really – we want to know, what do we do?  We are open to suggestions.  Feel free to comment on this blog.  Or our Facebook page.  Or twitter.  And “stay tuned” for future announcements, because our library has something in the works, and we’ll be telling you more about it in the upcoming weeks.  And while you are waiting, check out the ebooks currently available to library users through NCLIVE.

Oh – and as for me – I have a Nook.  I still buy print books that I want to add to my collection, and I download my “guilty pleasure” reading to my Nook.  I like reading on my ereader a lot better than I like reading on my phone or my PC.  It’s easier, more comfortable, big enough not to give me a headache or make me scroll the page after 4 words, and small enough to fit in my bigger purse.  But that’s just me.  I also like the way some of the ebooks, like cookbooks and such, have video demonstrations to go along with the instructions; although I haven’t actually worked myself up to taking my Nook into the kitchen.  Anyone who has seen the sauce stains, flour, and other stuff on my recipes knows that electronic readers do not belong anywhere near me when I cook.

6 thoughts on “Another blog about ebooks….

  1. You’ve obviously given this some thought, Deb, and I appreciate hearing your opinions on it. It helps me to better understand the pros and cons of it all. I think ebooks have their place and I can understand the attraction. They would allow you to keep your books with you anywhere you go. That would be a lovely thing. But, personally, I can’t see myself curling up in bed with a plastic/metal computer-like device with a light shining in my eyes. I guess I’m just a tree-hugging, book-lover and I probably won’t ever change. But this isn’t an either/or situation. We can have both!


  2. Thanks to both of you! Deb, thanks for an easy-to-read explanation of the pros and cons of e-books. And thanks for the tip on the website! Loretta, I have to agree–I still prefer real paper and ink, and curling up with an e-reader just doesn’t appeal to me. But it might under different circumstances, and obviously does to lots of people. It’s good to have choices, since different formats work for different people.


  3. Very interesting post, Deb. I can’t believe it, but I’ve come to really love my Kindle. It very easily wore down my resistance with its intuitive ease-of-function. Within three minutes I was hooked.

    I’m intrigued by your, “Build virtual walls around our real books and prepare to man the fortifications.” This sounds like a lot of fun. I’m not quite sure what “virtual walls” are, but since the former Mrs. Osteen left I’ve become adept at building forts with sofa cushions. Is this what you’re suggesting? I’d love to help!


  4. Though I am a techy type and love to read, I have not made the plunge into e-readers. The Nook could win me over. I have played with a few of them. I like the bright colorful touch screen. I did not enjoy the Sony “book like” experience at all. There is a lot of information here. I was hoping though, that you would have ALL the answers! I enjoyed the post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!


  5. give me a book a real book solid with pages and I’m content . no password no batteries.. no plugging in.. give me a book and I’m on an adventure ..
    Your blog was excellent.
    lots of info.


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