Yesterdays news that Amazon made a deal with OverDrive for Kindle owners to borrow library books came as a surprise to me, since as a Nook owner, I’ve been borrowing ebooks from the library since I first bought the device. However, library ebook titles are so few, both in available titles and number of copies, that it may not be the big boost Amazon is hoping for. Big publishers like Macmillan and Simon & Schuster still aren’t selling ebook titles to libraries and because more people are buying tablets and ereaders, demand far outstrips supply. For the ebook library patron this only adds up to frustration which brings me to my first wish:
Get more books!
Publishers need to get on the ebook loan ball. This will only be a boost to their authors, and advance their sales, because libraries do BUY those copies that they loan out, and they will need a lot of them to meet the demand.
Once, I waited three months for an ebook loan, only to have it slip away because I didn’t download it within the 2 day window before it moved on to the next patron on the list. (I was sick, dammit!) And since then, I haven’t ordered another title because the library doesn’t have anything I’m interested in. Or they might, only I can’t find it because their interface is clunky, non-intuitive, and frankly, a giant bore, which brings me to my next wish:
Libraries need a better web presence.
Granted, they don’t have the cash that bookstores do (especially with recent cuts to education and libraries), but they need to have a better system of getting books into the hands of patrons. A more intuitive and more visual (as opposed to text-heavy) web interface would increase circulation because patrons would be able to find the books they’re interested in, and books could be “shelved” by interest, author, genre, and topic, and even give recommendations based on a patron’s previous borrows. And though there are a lot of patrons who will be clamoring for these ereader titles, not everyone will be, or needs to be, which brings me to my final wish:
With all the publisher-convincing, title-stocking and web-improving that will be happening, libraries have enough to think about. I’m all for making sure all books are available to all patrons, but I disagree with those who think it’s the library’s job to make ereaders available. Unless the library plans to make some books available only in ebook form, I don’t see any reason to loan out expensive equipment. Ever borrow a DVD that wasn’t scratched up beyond recognition? So how long do you think an ereader would last? The money’s better spent on getting publishers on board and improving web presence.
[Image of book and computer from: http://www.blogtrepreneur.com/2009/03/17/write-your-own-ebook-for-profit-or-traffic/, image of kid’s ebook from Wikimedia Commons.]