I have to admit that my passion, ire and wrath about publishers and eBook pricing has been more about how it affects me as a consumer. But now that things seem to be turning around I have lost some of my tunnel vision and realize that our libraries have been through the wringer as much as we have(if not more, quite frankly), and they still don’t have a viable resolution yet.
Oh, I have talked about it before in this blog but it is not something that I followed religiously. One reason is that as a Kindle owner, library lending wasn’t an available feature for a long while since Amazon didn’t have any type of agreement with libraries. And finally when they did add this feature, I found a very limited collection of books available. Almost all major publishers such as Macmillan Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, Brilliance Audio, and Hachette Book Group blocked libraries’ access to eBooks. HarperCollins limited the access to 26 times before the book expired. Random House reaffirmed its commitment to the library eBook market but tripled their prices. Continue reading
Last week, I mentioned that certain publishers won’t let libraries lend their eBooks. To bring it home more, if you are looking for romance eBooks by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, Keiran Kramer published by Macmillan Publishing at your local library or Simon & Schuster’s authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz or Sabrina Jeffries, don’t waste your time looking because their eBooks are not available for lending. If that is not enough, Penguin, which only offered backlist eBook titles for library lending, announced that it is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its eBooks to libraries.
In mid-August, I joined my fourth library system after I moved to Mobile, AL. Libraries are very important to me – not just on principle, or because I have many family members that work for libraries, but because I rely on them heavily for my reading. Until very recently I was a poor college student; now, I’m a full-time volunteer. Expendable income is not in my vocabulary. I buy very few books new, because I simply can’t afford it.
I used to think that other library systems had decent romance sections. Not great, but they had the big name authors, and every once in a while they had a favorite of mine (usually in downloadable e-book format). The library in my hometown was where I was first introduced to romance, but their Romance section trends towards Women’s Fiction and drugstore aisle books (like Luanne Rice, Debbie Macomber, Danielle Steel, Fern Michaels — none of whom are my cup of tea). But at least they had a Romance section; in London and Washington, DC, my local branches didn’t even have that. In Washington, all the mass-market paperbacks were shoved together on a single bookshelf.
Here in Mobile, I feel like I’m in heaven. My local library is the main branch, and once I found the romance novel section, I have barely ventured past it. It is far more extensive than any I’ve seen outside of a Borders or Barnes and Noble. One of the greatest pleasures I’ve had there is that of browsing.
I don’t particularly enjoy browsing at bookstores, because I know I can’t buy everything I want; I limit myself to the book I’ve been eagerly awaiting that wasn’t available at my library, and that’s it. There is very little experimentation with authors outside of my job as a reviewer – and then once I find a new author I like as a reviewer, they are rarely available at my libraries.
I don’t have an eBook reader, mainly because I don’t buy enough new books to justify the cost. But when I checked back to the Toronto Public Library recently, lo and behold they’ve instituted an eLibrary.
Which makes me absolutely chuffed. I live exactly 14,242 kilometres away from Toronto, and yet my resident status allows me to borrow books from the library as if I were still there. This makes up for all the deficiencies, of which, I’m sorry to say, there are quite a few.
Most of the problems involve the nuts and bolts of e-borrowing. The formats. The lending periods. The hold notification system. And the fact that you can’t return anything unless it’s in Adobe EPUB or PUB format, which is bloomin’ annoying. Yeah, I know it’s a copyright issue. But it’s still a pain in the ass. There’s also the fact that since I don’t have an eReader, my reading is limited to my computer screen, and it is hell on the eyes. And I mean hell.
This confession will probably give some of you a heart attack, but I haven’t read any of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I know, I know. It’s like I’ve been living under a rock buried 3 miles below the surface of the Earth. But lately I’ve been thinking about giving the first book a try. So I sent out a half-joking tweet on the subject. To my surprise, I received a personal response from my local library letting me know that Outlander is available for checkout, should I so desire. Now granted, I’m kind of a dork, but I thought this was really cool. So cool, in fact, that I decided to explore more of the digital/virtual features my local library offers, and get the perspective of the Sacramento Public Library’s Digital Services Librarian Megan Wong on the subject of libraries in the digital age.