Tolkien, artist

TGIF and E-Books

I really need a Friday, and here we are, back to Friday again! Call me happy about that (visualize me running through a field of daisies, happily cavorting with the little animals and avoiding all bugs and mud). Friday is a wonderful invention. It's really too bad that I have to work on Saturdays so that my true Friday is really Saturday - LOL. Confused yet?

So, deciding to return to basics in my quest to improve my writing, I am reading two different books that basically are classes and exercises in creative writing. I'm actually quite happy with the books, and I would like to read some of the supplementary materials and novels recommended so that I can get a clearer idea of what is being discussed in the various chapters. I was hoping to get the source materials through my local library's E-book lending program because it seemed reasonable to just borrow a book temporarily, read it and then return it. And because I wanted to keep carrying a bunch of books to a minimum, I wanted an E-format to just load onto my NookColor. Badda bing, badda bang.

A beautiful picture by Estelar on Deviant Art

But no. No such luck. The amount of E-books available for checkout is mega limited. And the library only has a single copy and it is "checked out" (although how you can check out something that is digital and limit the copies is a bit mind-boggling in itself). Now, I can see in the future that there will be a national library consisting of E-books, because that only makes sense. But why the heck can't I have one now! So, I gritted my teeth and put paper copies on hold. *sigh* I would really have preferred the E-version.

The new Denver Public Library building is so kewl.

And Sharon - I really need a DPL card. How can we make this happen? Can you claim me as your daughter or something? Or give me your number so that I can check out E-books on your card? Talk with me, GF.
And the library only has a single copy and it is "checked out" (although how you can check out something that is digital and limit the copies is a bit mind-boggling in itself).

That has to do with licensing and digital rights management. The library doesn't purchase the right to distribute that e-Book to an unlimited number of persons for an unspecified amount of time - similarly to paper books, they purchase a certain number of 'copies' (the right to check the book out to som many people at a time).

If they check that book out to more people than they have licenses for, that ends up being the digital equivalent of stealing books from the publisher's warehouse. Not legal.
I understand that rationale, and it basically comes down to royalty payments, licensing and production costs. But e-books are much less expensive to produce and should cost correspondingly less and be available for public services such as libraries for a very low per-copy or per-checkout cost. I would gladly pay a small fee to the library for the purposes of "checking out" a digital copy of a book. I think that someday e-books will become user-driven, not publisher-driven and access to electronic materials will be much more reasonable and wide-spread.

I understand the legality and the licensing, etc., my BFF is a librarian and many of my customers also are. But the basic premise of a library has changed over the centuries and will continue to change, and e-books will effect another wave of change, hopefully that will benefit everyone.

- Erulisse (one L)
See, the cost to convert a paper book to an eBook may be less, but I'm not convinced that the overall costs are that much different. The data contained in those books has to be stored somewhere - on a server. A relatively small server can end up setting you back around $1000 - the ones necessary for a large library if all their books were digitized would be massively expensive. You need power to run those servers. They're really finicky on temperature conditions - they generate a large amount of heat and absolutely must be kept below a certain temperature or the circuitry fries and all your data's lost. Then there's the cost of registering and maintaining a domain name for your library website - the cost of software to run your server (not cheap) - the cost of both physical (making sure someone doesn't break in in the middle of the night and steal or sabotage your software) and digital security - the cost of internet service at an enterprise level, the cost of maintaining kiosks at the library if people want to digitally read their books that way - it all adds up. It's overly simplistic to say 'oh it's cheap to produce digital books.'
Vis a Vis pricing, there is a DOJ vs Apple and the remaining Big Five publishers for price fixing. No doubt when collusion and other felonies are finally dealt with the prices will go down, and libraries should be able to get more "copies'. Of course there's still the Overdrive issue to deal with.

I'm to the point I don't want to read my RSS feeds in the morning for the amount of bad news for us lowly consumers of electronic books. *sigh*
Overdrive is a pain. I can hardly wait until there is a central collection in the 'cloud' of all e-books which the libraries will pay either an 'estimated usage licence fee' or a 'per download' fee to the central repository. I can see each individual user paying a small fee for borrowing an e-book and don't think it should be a lot. If there are millions of library users who would want e-books and each one paid $1 for one e-book, the dollars would mount up quickly. Just a thought...and one that I suspect will eventually begin coming into reality. It's just that I want it now :-)

- Erulisse (one L)
Yes I know that whole 'now' thing.
I also have friends over at Ravelry who use Philly's public library; they pay a fee per year (nominally $35 I think) and get much more access to ebooks.

I'm still trying to replace all my medieval books with ebooks and the "translations" are gawd-awfull. So I suppose it's a matter of taste and desire for both of us. LOL I won't be selling my Chretien any time soon I suppose.
No, well worth keeping your Chretien, for sure. I love hardcopy books, but for reading on the go I love my NookColor.

- Erulisse (one L)
I want to download a lot of my favourite books onto my kindle - but so few of them are available electronically. Eventually, I suppose... but I want them now!
I agree...I want them now too. What I REALLY want is for the Library of Congress to act as a digital library and allow people to check out anything in their collection for a small fee electronically. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

- Erulisse (one L)