April 20th, 2011

Library eBooks

I've been tracking ebook coverage for years now. It's been a lot of fun. For quite a long while, the coverage was dominated (as I have noted before) by "Book Huffing" rhetoric: a lot of loose talk about how wonderful books feel in the hand and how they smell. When you read this kind of rhetoric, you could easily be whisked away to an overstuffed armchair, perhaps by a crackling fire. Maybe with a glass of wine on the table beside you and your feet up on a hassock (a hassock! Not a lowly footstool, no). There might even be antimacassars on that armchair, if you're given to that sort of detail. In your hands, a wonderful, beloved volume from your carefully curated library (in a room dedicated to the purpose, two floors in height, with a rolling ladder and perhaps a balcony). If you're _really_ dedicated to this kind of pornography, you've had the whole collection rebound in uniform leather bindings.

Ah, bookhuffing. Given that my reading tastes swing in a short arc from the kind of trashy fiction which suffers from trendy cover design (occasionally including foils, multi-layer covers, etc. and, depending on the genre, spaceships or people whose clothing is in danger of falling off. Sometimes both.) to topical non-fiction, when my books smell it's usually of ink and/or glue and I do not view either as a good thing.

Anyway. The bookhuffing phase is pretty much over. While there are other issues involved, one of the major concerns right now is picking a format. The format choice revolves around several issues: availability of content, pricing of content, probability of future support. The first two are important to a whole lot more people than the last one, but the last one is a dealbreaker in terms of adoption for an important fraction of the heavy user, er, book buying public.

While the kindle has had a significant leg up on availability and pricing, eReaders which support the ePub format which most library e-books have been available in thus far have had a certain advantage. The Nook, in particular the color nook, has been doing a bit of business because it offers the option of working as an inexpensive tablet (assuming you're willing to void warranties and so forth) as well as letting you read library ebooks on it. Thus, no real commitment to any particular format, since you're not out any money for content anyway.

R. sent me this today.

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1552678&highlight

The short form: Overdrive (already supplying many, many, did I say many? libraries with audiobooks) and kindle have come to an agreement.

"Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps."

I was tempted to make the subject heading for this post, "Amazon to competitors: Suck It". But that seemed rude. Instead, I'm going to go see what the librarian bloggers have to say about all this.

OverDrive to Libraries: Calm Down, It's Just One More Format

http://overdriveblogs.com/library/2011/04/20/kindle-library-lending-and-overdrive-what-it-means-for-libraries-and-schools/

Works with your current website. You don't need to add units. Existing items will be available in kindle format. As you add more, they get added with kindle. All the publishers rules apply to kindle as well as everything else. All the existing rules stay the same.

I am amused to note that comments are closed; I have no idea if that's standard on that blog, but I suspect it is.

ETA: Wrong! Comments are often open on that blog (and conspicuously empty).

ETAYA: And I think I know why they closed comments. OverDrive must be inundated with this kind of questioning:

http://librarianbyday.net/2011/04/20/some-questions-for-overdrive-and-amazon-about-the-kindle-lending-library/

Wow. Guess _that_ will teach some people not to give content away for free.

ALA to Everyone: Yay! More Access for All!

http://www.equacc.ala.org/2011/04/20/new-amazonoverdrive-kindle-library-lending-program/

Interestingly, while they (along with other bloggers) are hoping this will pressure Macmillan and Simon & Schuster into offering ebooks to libraries, they do not bring the recent Harper limit into their discussion AND they offer up this happy sentence:

"Before we start worrying about the details, such as will this content be accessible through other ereaders such as Nook or Sony, etc., I say let’s just celebrate a program that will make more e-content available through libraries."

That's very sweet of them.

OverDrive, Kindle and Venn Diagrams!

Okay, I'm adding the Venn Diagrams part.

http://jasongriffey.net/wp/2011/04/20/kindle-library-lending/

"When asked about the potential catalog non-overlap (what happens when a book available via Overdrive isn’t available on Amazon), the answer from Overdrive was that they hadn’t looked fully at the catalog overlap yet. But it sounds like the Kindle compatibility is simply going to be there for your existing books as an additional option…well done!"

OverDrive isn't sure what's in their catalog as an ePub or .pdf or whatever vs. what publishers are willing to offer as a kindle ebook for lending purposes. The blogger is asking, what happens if there's an ePub or .pdf but not an .azw? I suppose that's interesting if it's a non-empty set, but I sort of suspect it's an empty set.

An alternative, probably NOT empty set: what about books that publishers have made available as a .azw but not in any other format. Will there be books you can get from overdrive only for kindle?

I think the blogger is a little confused about how the delivery of content will work, but we won't know until it rolls out, probably. Obviously, the number-of-copies thing is going to get thrashed out the hard way (on a per publisher, possibly a per title basis, and it will likely drive users absolutely nuts whenever they checkout a book that is only allowed on a single device at a time per checkout).

But really a quite good discussion of some of the issues.

ETA: Wondering about the number of titles out there?

http://www.ebookreaderguide.com/2011/03/13/kindle-nookcolor-ipad2-sony-overdrive-which-ebookstore-has-most-ebook-titles/

A _really_ interesting discussion. I went looking for something that would tell me how much of what was out where after I saw a CNN blog post saying OverDrive was offering over 400K titles.

Genealogy musings

I've mentioned before that one of my grandparents never lived in the US, one was born shortly after her parents arrived in the US, and a third came here as a teenager. The remaining grandparent (some of whose children, including my mother, were born in Canada thus suffering from the vagaries of dual-citizenship law) was a True American Mutt. I spent a bunch of time tracking the Veeders (Dutch) and Plantzs (German Palatines who came to Mohawk Valley), in part because hey, more Dutch! and partly because it was the mostly likely place to find shared ancestry with my husband (we found three: Anneke Jans and her husband Everardus Bogardus, and Marritje Thomas Badye, altho by different husbands).

There are really serious problems in following some of the lines back any distance at all, but there were Poages and Terrills and others to pursue, and recently I have been doing just that. Early on in this process, I found a Poage genealogy on HeritageQuest Online, and ordered the hardcopy from Higginson. Yesterday, I made a concerted effort to find out where the Brothers Poage came from before they were early settlers in Augusta County, Virginia.

Yeah, well, I should have seen this coming: they came from Ireland, but they weren't really Irish. They were part of the Scots who were in Ulster for a while and then left in a massive series of waves of emigration. This leaves me, then, with at least three distinct groups of early arrivals to what became the US: the Dutch Colony (a two part group including Dutch people and Germans from the Palatinate), Scots-Irish arriving in Philadelpha, Pennsylvania and then moving to points inland, and Virginia (I've got a bunch of arrivals elsewhere in Virginia in addition to the Scots-Irish -- including a Dutch guy).

In addition to the obvious effects (oh, look, a whole lot more genealogy reference works to order. Joy.), this has offered me another way to contemplate structuring a book about genealogy: The Story of X as told through Lineages A1..ZN. Anyone can do this -- everyone came from somewhere, and if they really did spend a thousand years in one village, that's a helluva story all by itself. For my grandmother, it's truly the story of American migration: _to_ the Americas and then _within_ the Americas.

I guess I'll just keep poking away at it and see what I think in a few weeks. When I know way more about the South than I ever intended to.

Oh, and judging by the Poages, I'm also going to be learning a ridiculous amount of military history as well.