No ebook takeover
As director of a small, stand-alone library that is not part of a cooperative, I have experienced great difficulty in my quest to obtain ebook access for our patrons (Michael Kelley, Francine Fialkoff, Rebecca Miller, and David Rapp, “The Ebook Opportunity,” LJ 11/15/11, p. 36–37). OverDrive is out of the question, financially, and we cannot piggyback with any of the local co-ops or consortia. We have reciprocal privileges with our county co-op, but that does not include ebook access. Our only possibility, and this is still not settled, is joining with a library in another part of the state for a financially acceptable inroad to OverDrive.
Having said this, I noted with interest two very recent articles. The one entitled “E-book Readers Face Sticker Shock” was in the Wall Street Journal (12/15/11). It states that even with the lower ebook reader prices, the rise in ebook prices is enough to give pause to readers as to whether they want to purchase. For some best sellers, the price of ebooks and the price of the print book are within a few dollars of each other. The other article, “E-books, Shmee Books: Readers return to the stores,” in the New York Times (12/12/11), gives current data from Barnes & Noble that holiday sales of print books are up 10.9 percent over last year. Several smaller bookstores showed an increase as well.
I will continue to pursue a way for our patrons to access ebooks, but I do not foresee a massive takeover in which digital format materials become more important than print books. For many decades there have been recurrent predictions of the death of the novel and even public libraries, now that the Internet is here. Neither has happened. Rumors of the death of print books have been highly exaggerated.
—Jane Mitchell, Libn., Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Thoughts for 2012
Three thoughts to usher in 2012:
1) In the New York Times Book Review this morning (12/24/11), an article by Randall Stross entitled “Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War” describes the refusal of many major publishers to sell ebooks to libraries for reasons of which we are already aware. Simon & Schuster is supposedly concerned that its authors are losing out on potential revenue earned by print editions. Hachette stopped making ebooks available to libraries in 2009, while HarperCollins licenses its most popular titles for only 26 loan transactions.
2) A couple of weeks ago, Amazon’s “showrooming” policy was revealed in the media, offering discounts to customers willing to scan products in retail stores with their cell phones—and go on to buy the same things automatically from Amazon instead, often at a lower price and free of sales tax.
3) James Patterson published nine books in 2011, is reportedly worth $84 million, and has a 17-book deal with Hachette worth $150 million.
What can we draw from this? That libraries and consumers have ended up as commoditized linchpins in the age of production and reproduction? Or that intellectual property is now subject to the vagaries of corporate manipulation and variable interest rates? Or, as comedian Mort Sahl once said, “Darwin was wrong.”
—Eddie Paul, Head, Bibliographic &
Info Svcs., Jewish P.L., Montreal
Still a librarian
Jane Greenstein (“Library Science Without the Library,” BackTalk, LJ 1/12, p. 52) is spot on in her observations, certainly reflecting my experience at San José as we built the global e-campus in the LIS. In one critical area, however, I differ. For me, the discipline is LIS, the profession is librarianship, the environment where one practices is irrelevant. Sorry, Jane, with your MLIS degree I would always consider you a professional librarian although it may never be your job title (and indeed it has never been mine through a great 40-year career).
—Ken Haycock, Ctr. for Information Research & Innovation, San José State Univ., CA
Tell more people
Another great editorial (Francine Fialkoff, “Beyond the Stars,” LJ 11/1/11, p. 8) and issue! You and the authors of the LJ Index (Keith Curry Lance and Ray Lyons, “America’s Star Libraries,” LJ 11/1/11, p. 26–35) are hitting on all cylinders. Please find a way to inform more people…. We need more outlets, speakers who believe that it will be the public library that will get us through this recession with information, entertainment, children’s programs, jobs, etc., for less money than a movie ticket.
—Name withheld upon request
I liked John Berry’s “An Excess of Ethics” (Blatant Berry, LJ 11/15/11, p. 9). I participated in that PUBLIB exchange and was amazed at some of the “uptight” attitudes expressed.
—Jim Casey, Dir., Oak Lawn P.L., IL