i work at an academic library and a co-worker forwarded a blog posting from “librarian in black.” librarian in black is really sarah houghton, director for the san rafael public library (california) and the posting is titled “i’m breaking up with e-books (and so can you)“(subtitled e-book suckitude). i like it!
[WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! it contains salty language! yes, the S-word and the F-word are used, sparingly, but used). still worth the read.
now, i’ll admit that at first glance, i took offense because i…love…e-books! love, love, love them! and paper books, tooooooo!
but upon further investigation, it turns out that sarah (i’ll assume it’s okay to call her sarah) isn’t breaking up with e-books but is breaking up with overdrive, the major e-book provider for libraries in the country. and she’s not planning on picking up with another suitor (sorry, 3m).
okay, this bandwagon i can jump on. it just so happens that i met last week with one of our local community college librarians who wanted to talk about…you guessed it, e-books and e-book providers.
but, back to sarah and her upcoming bad breakup with overdrive. in her looooong blog post, she compares her library’s relationship with overdrive (through a consortium) with a relationship with a bad boyfriend. nice and shiny and full of promise in the beginning, but eventually all that wears off and you’re left with crap and you settle until one day…
basically, she sees overdrive as a promise unfulfilled. not only that, but almost as though overdrive was fraudulent in their intent to begin with.
i tried to highlight the basics in the article, but even the highlights (lowlights) stacked up, but here goes (by the way, this doesn’t mean i don’t want you to read the article!!):
- the whole situation sucks: “the copyright nightmares, the publishers, the fragmented formats, the ridiculous terms of service, the device incompatibility, the third-party aggregation companies libraries do business with.”
- we have ourselves to blame: “libraries have not been included at the table for negotiations on digital copyright, terms of service, licensing conditions, technology integration, none of it. And yes, that stinks. And yes, we’ve complained about it enough. We haven’t been heard largely because we’ve been too polite and too quiet for too long. It’s our fault. “
- we didn’t get our fair share: “eBooks never gave us as libraries–full selection, right-quick downloads, and sharing rights. We got no love at all, but our prettier sister, the consumer, got a better deal. Still not everything, as she also has to put up with restrictive DRM, licensing and not owning, and privacy violations.”
- the promise of collaboration remains just that: “publishers continually feed libraries the line that they’re “experimenting with different models” and “hope to continue to work positively with libraries in the digital space. Uh huh. Libraries and eBooks aren’t shacking up anytime soon, not for real…not as long as publishers continue to falsely view us as a threat instead of a partner. “
- maybe it’s just not ready: “eBooks in libraries are a non-starter, their path has been set for the foreseeable future, and their future is determined by people who are not us. …those who produce them for profit…the publishers…the, until recently, necessary middlemen in the process between creators and consumers. Now that they’re not necessary to the process anymore, largely due to their inflexibility and inability to change in the face of rapidly shifting market conditions, they have attempted to salvage their failing business model with high prices, limited licensing policies, and technology so locked down that it remains impenetrable to many people.”
side note: here is a great (and up to date!) chart provided by the colorado library consortium: Comparison of Library eBook Choices
and two other librarian bloggers seem to be on the same bandwagon: andromeda yelton and annoyed librarian.