Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Kindle Revolution...and Thoughts on E-Book Lending/Borrowing

Despite all of my previous aversions to e-books, I have finally given into the times and now have a Kindle...and I must admit that I dearly love it. Now don't get me wrong - I will still always love holding a book in my hands, feeling the paper, getting ink smudges on my fingers and turning real live pages, but I'm learning to be more open minded about how I get my literary fixes.

One of the biggest issues I have had, and still have, with e-readers is the concept of lending and borrowing, which coincidentally is what finally pushed me over the edge to getting one since there is finally some progress being made. That progress, however, is slow, cloudy and outright messy. The last time I checked, there was nothing illegal about lending an item that I OWNED and PAID FOR (may it be a book, DVD, or a casserole dish) to a friend to their temporary use. When I buy a book in it's physical form, I am not only getting a tangible object, but I also own that item and am free to lend, beg or borrow with it as I choose. Yet when I buy an e-book, not only do I get a digital copy of the content and not physical item, I also miss out on the opportunity to share that book with others (and most of my sharing is initiative by my love for a book that I am eager to introduce to others), though in many cases the e-book edition is only slightly less in price than the physical copy would be. Yes, I understand that I am also paying for the convenience of skipping a drive to the book store, but what else am I getting to make up for what I am losing? To me the opportunity to share a beloved book with someone who may otherwise have never heard of it, or had the chance to read, is priceless. And to be honest, the fact that my closest bookstore of any consequential size is a 150 mile round trip is the only reason that this convenience is of a significant value to me, as many friends who have moved to larger areas in the past couple of years have commented that their Kindle/Nook use has dropped dramatically now that the bookstore and library are not a full day trip.

The fact that some lending and borrowing is now possible was a driving force behind my conversion, primarily because my most local library (55 miles away) has recently joined the Montana Library2Go networks via Overdrive, finally making it feasible cor me borrow library books. Now that I am more in tune to the e- book world, I have been getting caught up on the lending/borrowing scenarios and am quite frankly outright annoyed. Publishers who can't agree on how to offer e- books, others who won't offer them at all, and those who do using completely different models, rates and methods would make you think that the concept of a library was a new and foreign concept to them. I have heard countless news stories lately about their fears of lost revenue, not being able to control who ultimately gets their content and whether it was paid for. The most choice of all though was one I read the other day in a blog post about a recent library association conference that include representatives from the 6 big publisher representative actually stated that one of their concerns is that whether increased access to e-books would actually benefit the less fortunate, who cannot always afford to purchase the books and who the libraries are meant to serve, or whether it would just be an outlet for those who could afford to purchase the books to sidestep that option and get them for free. Really?! He has certainly never been to a library, or at least any library that I have been to, and that is a lot of them. First of all sir, since when are libraries there just for the less fortunate? Last time I checked, a publicly funded library was there due to the tax dollars and donations of EVERYONE, and therefore in place to serve EVERYONE in their area. Of course I use the library to get books for free...isn't that the point? And yes, I do in fact also spend money on books, but am not able to afford every book I would ever like to read, as is probably the case with a good portion of the American library frequenting public. Why should a digital version of a book be any different than a physical copy, if the borrowing is handled in the same way - x number of copies, one person can borrow one copy at a time, for a predetermined period of time, and when they are done someone else can use it. Sure, they may find a way to share it with their friends. But I might also take a physical book out from the library and lend it to 3 different friends before returning it.

To sum it up - get over it Big 6. Sit down, make some decisions, get on the same page, and accept the digital revolution. If us die-hard lovers of the real thing can open our minds, so can you.

No comments:

Post a Comment