Wednesday, March 9, 2011

eBooks are eVeRYWHeRe

Tip of the Day: See if your local library has a subscription to an ebook/audiobook lending site like Overdrive.

Here's some more thoughts on the pros and cons of ebooks from a public library perspective:

1. libraries have limited shelf space; ebook collections don't take up shelf space so more titles can be ordered

2. ebooks don't fall apart/get stolen/get lost

3. ebooks automatically "check back in" on their due dates so the next person on the holds list doesn't have to wait longer than expected from patrons who keep books past their due dates and therefore....

3a. ebooks don't accrue overdue fines

4. putting an ebook on hold is free, while in my library system putting a paper book on hold is 50 cents to a dollar

1. ebooks depend on technology to be accessible; if a library's network system goes down (like my library's did yesterday for over two hours), the books are not available for example

2. book publishers are still figuring out their terms for selling ebooks to libraries -- some times in ways that aren't beneficial to libraries (see the HarperCollins article that Kate linked to last week; my library system is now boycotting the purchase of HC ebooks because other publishers are NOT changing to terms such as this)

3. lending materials budgets will be stretched thinner; less titles might be purchased because now paper AND electronic versions of popular titles need to be purchased

Anything else obvious I'm missing about ebooks being held in library collections?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Jennie said...

Pro: E-books allow users who can't come to the library to still use it's services. You can check an e-book out from home and it'll check itself back in!

Pro: On many e-readers, you can adjust the font-size, effectively increasing your large-print collection for people with vision impairments.

Con: Library e-books are NOT Kindle compatible, and the Kindle is one of the most popular readers. I'm hoping that now Amazon has a way for Kindle users to share books, that it's just a matter of time before they reach a deal with OverDrive!

I think the transitional period where we're all trying to figure things out will be the hardest, but books are moving more and more towards e-platforms and I thin it's good that libraries are jumping on this NOW and not when people have started seeing them as completely irrelevant institutions.

DeenaML said...

Jennie - Thanks for your additional pros and cons - we agree with all of them. The Kindle issue has been a big deal here, especially right after the holiday season when so many people recieved them as gifts and then couldn't download from OverDrive.

We have heard from some patrons that when shopping for the Nook the B&N employees have used OverDrive compatability as a big selling point for their device. Hopefully Amazon will catch on.

The transitional period reminds me of VHS vs. DVD or DVD vs. Blueray -how many formats of each title do we buy and can we afford? Will one company dominate the eReader market or will we continue to see healthy competition?

Yes, librarians should show the public that we are hip to eReader technology, but we're also eReader savvy. It's important to stay current and informed of emerging technologies and not just jump on the eBandWagon. -Deena & her Intern

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

"ebooks don't accrue overdue fines"

Hmm--is this a pro or a con? I just realized I have no idea if fines bring any significant money in to libraries, or if it's just small potatoes, mostly valuable for the incentive to get people to return things.

Kristina Springer said...

Two things:
Whoa. You charge for putting stuff on hold? No one would ever put stuff on hold then around here! That could get pricey.

And ugh on budgets stretching thinner. I just had a vision of no newer authors books getting purchased so that libraries could purchase more and more copies of Twilight.

And finally a question-- so they check out an ebook onto their device. How does it come back off? Or do they just keep a copy on their device?

DeenaML said...

Jen H -- for patrons, no fines is a good thing obviously. :) For my library, no fines WOULD result in lowered revenue, and that revenue generally helps us "earn our keep" with the town. BUT compared to the overall library budget at my town, the amount taken in with fines is small potatoes, so not a huge deal.

We actually were one of the last libs in my system to switch from $1/day to .25/day fines for DVDs, and the perceived reduction in revenue was not enough to make us keep the $1 fine since patron goodwill is worth more in many ways.

Another thing with fines is that paying the staff to deal with DISPUTED fines is time consuming, as is sending the collection agency after patrons with high fines. Many of the patrons who reach the collection agency threshold never pay off their account, so the lib system loses $ in paying the collection agency with no payoff.

DeenaML said...

Tina, yup, my system has charged for the transportation, processing, and handling of holds for years. Most people were understanding when it started up. NYS is not in a good place with funding for public libs right now.

As for a book coming off your account, yes, there is an expiration period for when the file you "borrowed" is no longer accessible.