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Some of you may have heard about the new debacle between Harper Collins (one of the larger publishing houses) and Libraries this week, with Overdrive standing like a child between two fighting parents (#hcod). First there was news that OD sent out a memo to employees that HC would be putting a cap on check outs of ebooks for libraries. Now, this might make sense if you model ebooks after physical books, where they eventually wear out, get damaged or just disappear over time. However, you’ll notice that neither HC or OD were discussing this with libraries, their clients whom the new policy would affect. Also, they set the magic number to 26 check outs, which is a little arbitrary.
There was a second part of the policy, which would be that HC wanted closer oversight over who was allowed to borrow library materials. That’s just not going to happen. Libraries are already pretty strict about lending policies and who qualifies for a card. Those policies are almost always available on the libraries website. If HC wants to go take a look at each and every one and see if they agree with them, they should go ahead and do so. It might take a while.
So librarians found out about this new policy coming down the pipes in a FEW DAYS, and they put up a fuss (as you can see from the linked twitter feed above). Here are a couple of examples. Then HC replied and OD replied. The first was what you would expect–our current policies are old and we need to update them and stay relevant. Well, publishers do need to stay relevant if they want to survive the digital age, More restrictions are not the way to go. Libraries are already trying to figure out how to have enough electronic copies of a book to satisfy their patrons.
You may ask–but they are electronic, can’t more than one person download it at a time? No no, can’t work that way. How would the authors and publishers make any money if we only had to buy one copy for many people? We buy, essentially, licenses for the book and one person can use one license at a time. Like software can only be put on a limited number of computers. This is copyright (and DRM) and protects the author from giving their book away. Some authors, like Cory Doctorow, give their books away on their own, and that works for them (with rules, of course). Others don’t use a publisher or agent, they publish electronically on Amazon, and have the potential to sell plenty.
The digital age is going through growing pains. We have seen the same problem happening with CDs, MP3s, DVDs and torrents. The question I think it comes down to is will the publishers and producers adapt? We can’t apply print media rules to digital materials. It is a different kettle of fish.
To press my point, here is a message from a Harper Collins author, Marilyn Johnson. At the bottom she gives information on how to give feedback to HC on this issue. Full disclosure, Marilyn Johnson is a library advocate and wrote This Book is Overdue.
Does anyone find the text on here hard to read? I realize that it might be a challenge, the small gray print. Let me know–I don’t see it as often as you do.
My New Year weekend was very nice. The Mister came into town to surprise me–at the library with flowers! I had to restrain myself from throwing my arms around him right there. We had a very laid back weekend. He drove out with me to la-la-land to gather The Boy, I made us a couple of hearty dinners and breakfasts (they were on their own for lunch…) then sent him on his way Sunday afternoon. The Boy spent most of the time doing geometry.
Libraryland is bustling right now after a week long slow down because of the holidays. We are seeing a lot of people who got ereaders for xmas or Chanukah and are turning to libraries to fill their reading needs. That means more competition for our digital materials and more frustration trying to use the service for the first time. Usually once they get it to work once, they are golden, but the initial set up can be confusing. Occasionally there is some kind of glitch where Adobe Digital Editions gets hung up over the ID and even if you put it in correctly and Adobe accepts it, permissions won’t transfer.
It is a bit depressing around here today. Many of my coworkers in teen services are those who are affected by the budget cuts and today is their last day in their librarian positions. Some of them are becoming assistant managers–a scheduling and circulation sort of management position–others are becoming Library Assistants–this particular position has some elements of librarianism, but is not professional and they have to try to stop themselves from doing the amount of reference they were doing up until today (it is hard to do less when you are helping the public, but they won’t be paid for that level of professionalism and if they do continue, they might be eliminating the need for more librarian positions).
What am I reading? I have started two books and I like them both. Dreadnought, the third steampunk novel by Cherie Priest, is scratching my adult fiction itch. The main character is nicely developed and the story is fun, somewhat suspenseful and action packed.
The other is a children’s book, along the lines of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch is about 5 inventor-type children who’s parents are missing. The children are at a strange school with a nice teacher, but where the Mysterious Men in Black visit. I have really just started this one so I can’t tell you any more…except that it doesn’t come out until March 15th.
But it seems like everything I want to read is in pdf now. What happened to my EPUB? Are they trying to force me to buy an iPad? That is not happening on my budget. Anyhow, I like having my ebooks very portable–as in fit in my purse or pocket. Most readers are just too big for my tastes.
It’s supposed to snow today and everyone is hopeful that it will. Probably because it is only supposed to be a couple of inches and not terribly cold like our last one. Our forecast is very changeable here, though. It has already snowed in some areas, but not at my house. We may not see any at all at my house.
Libraryland is in a waiting period right now. Our busy times are out of wack because of school break and a lot of people taking vacation. No story times right now to bring in the families at certain times. Sometimes it is quiet and half deserted and others it is hopping and 10 things are happening at once. Kids are starting to realize they have to have books for projects when they go back to school on Monday, so they are coming in with reference questions. Parents want to see if they can get that fun picture book they saw over xmas. I got all my weeding done before the holiday and the advisory group is on hiatus until February, so I have been concentrating on scheduling software and not really feeling like I am getting anywhere. Everyone is on vacation either literally or figuratively right now, and everyone is waiting to see if what happens when this round of changes are implemented on January 5th.
What am I reading? I am just finishing up The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, which was just as I was hoping. Jason wakes up on a bus holding a girl’s hand (Piper) and being regaled with lame jokes by a guy named Leo that claims to be his friend, but he can’t remember anything except that he knows he doesn’t belong there. Soon the three are attacked by wind spirits and are saved by a gym coach, who turns out to be a satyr. Next they are whisked off to Camp Half Blood and begin a quest to save the world from giants and ancient goddesses.
I have some exciting books in the hopper (iPod–unfortunately in pdf format); My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek and The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch. Oh, and Dreadnought by Cherie Priest in traditional book form. Which to start first?
My library offers e-books, both audio and text versions. As you can imagine, the learning curve for this is very steep. We have handouts to help people get started, but depending on what they want to do, I could give them up to 5 handouts and that is just seriously overwhelming.
I happen to use this service quite a bit. At first I was only downloading audio books for my long drives to get the Boy or visits to Spokane. I like listening to books and find that I remember much more of the story when I listen, rather than read. The reader can make all the difference and I have my favorites for sure. More recently, I have gotten into the text version, when I started using netgalley to read and review newer books. I don’t like reading on the computer screen though, so it was only when the Bluefire app made it possible to read them on my iPod Touch that I really started using the service. Shortly before my trip to Nevada, Bluefire added an update so that you could use their reader with library books, so I loaded up a couple of titles to take with me. It turns out I have preference for format.
The first book I read on my iPod was The Lying Game by Sara Shepard, the beginning of a new series (she did Pretty Little Liars). That book was a dream to read on the iPod–which as you know has a tiny screen. It put a few sentences on each “page” and the text was just as big, if not bigger, than it would have been in a physical book. The second book I read was Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. This one I almost didn’t continue, but it was really good, so I kept going back. The print was small and they crammed the whole page onto the screen. I soon figured out that you could turn the screen sideways and the print got bigger and you just tapped the lower portion of the screen to scroll to the next part. It was still a strain on the eyes, though. What was the difference? The first was an EPUB file and the second was a pdf. The EPUB is much more adaptable, probably much better for those with low vision. I am guessing this is why when Overdrive finally caught up with Bluefire (2 weeks later ;) and allowed direct download of text based ebooks to an iPhone or iPod Touch, they only allowed books with the EPUB format. There might be more to it–there always is where DRM is involved, but I am sure the flexibility of EPUB was a factor. While I have read several more books in the pdf format, it is only because Netgalley doesn’t tell you what format the books they offer are available in, so if you get a pdf, you just have to deal (or offend the publisher by not reviewing the book they gave you for free). I have made the suggestion that they include format information on the item record and got one of those “we’re thinking about it” answers.
So, if you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch and are thinking about downloading library books, DO IT! They’re great! I would just stick to the EPUB for now and read the other titles in book form. I am sure that pdf looks just great on an iPad or other reader, but if you have low vision, it is probably still a pain trying to make the text bigger–you can do it temporarily, but text will go off the side of the screen and the whole thing will go back to the original when you turn the page.
What am I reading? I started Pirates! by Celia Rees in digital format through Overdrive, but I think they must have used the galley version. There are so many typos I just couldn’t handle it and stopped reading (most galleys aren’t that bad). It seems like a less cheeky, more affluent Bloody Jack so far. I’ll get back to it later, maybe on audio book.
So now I am reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (physical book). It is the first book in a sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and is written in the same mien, but seems more mature somehow. I think that Riordan’s writing and style have improved through his last 5 books (imagine that) and while his books have always been interesting and exciting, now they have a bit more refinement. I am thoroughly enjoying this one, and not just because there is a gorgon around the corner.