walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

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.


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.

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