Saturday, February 26, 2011

Borrowing library e-books

You would think that book publishers would have the library thing figured out by now, after all, I've belonged to a library since I was 5 or 6. You get a card, borrow books, return them on time or pay a fine. Libraries purchase books (through special licence I assume) and lend them out until they are tattered then sell them to raise funds to buy more books. Online, I've used the Baen Free Library for years now, sometimes buying and sometimes just borrowing. Now, through chatting with a member of the cairn list I am on, I've found out about borrowing e-books through the library. This is fantastic and is done through Library2go. I used my library card to register then installed the Overdrive media app on my Galaxy Tab. Software is available for PCs, Android devices and, of course, the iPad. The person I got the info from has it direct to her Nook e-reader and Kobo e- reader is supported as well.

How slick is it? Well pretty slick. I can look at the catalogue on my computer or my GTab then select books for check out. I can get up to 5 at a time for either 7 or 14 days. There is a range of stuff available. Check out, down load and poof - new books to read. The reader software is good; has night and day settings, font size adjustments, automatic bookmarking and smooth, responsive page turning. On the splash page,there is a list of books you have out and the amount of time left to read. At the end of the borrowing time, the permission to read is removed from your device - I'm not sure how that works since I haven't gotten there yet. Really the best part is no more late fees - I had to pay $8 in overdue fees to get my library card updated (and I hadn't been to the library for a couple years!). If you're not going to pursue people minimize late fees.

The catalogue is pretty good. I read mainly SciFi and YA. As I get older I find I enjoy stuff I've read in the past (I think people call them classics) so recent publication isn't that essential. I've never read an entire library although I have gotten to the point where I'm waiting for new books a lot. I love the idea of reading different authors through the library. That's how I found Sharon Lee and Steve Miller One library read and I've bought e versions and paper versions of many of their books.

So why do I question if the publishers are "getting it"? Random House is apparently having a problem coming to an agreement with Overdrive. They want e-copies to expire after 26 lends. Why? It's not as if the download files degrade. You are getting libraries to purchase several licenses so they can lend the same book several people at a time when everyone could download from the same file almost at the same time. I get the part about editing etc but people do still buy books that they've borrowed from the library, just like they did with the hard copies.

I hope e-borrowing through your local library really takes off. It may help preserve library access for communities with reduced funding and brings relevance to those of us who don't *need* the library to access the internet or have a quite place to study. It's part of my muni-taxes but I could see this being a value added fee service if it would provide more in house services.

Now I must continue to read The City The City.