Which e-reader would you get? And why? What about libraries?


 

Which e-reader would you get? And why? What about libraries?
 


9 May 2009 at 9:05:23 AM
salon

I continue to want to get an e-reader but I don't want anything associated with Amazon. Are these reviews still valid? The plastic logic reader sounds interesting but how sturdy might it be?

Here's what I really want to know before I buy an e-reader. How will any e-reader work with libraries? For the past 6 months or so I have completely changed how I read books and check them out almost exclusively from libraries, including using the wonderful Interlibrary Loan program. Although the Somervell County Library is closed right now due to some carpeting renovation, it's been simply wonderful when it's open. From a practical standpoint, if I did get an e-reader, how would it work for me to check out a book from the library (which right now includes brand new titles)? And beyond that, because most of the books I want to read aren't in the local library but available from interlibrary loan, how would THAT work? Any librarians reading? I want to know, from a step-by-step mechanical standpoint how I would be able to go to a library, put in a request for a book, and then be able to read it on my e-reader.

In looking around a little, I found this entry about the Wisconsin Library, which is loaning out Kindles, although there appears to be some question about wheher it it legal. Also, this doesn't really answer MY question, which is, suppose I get my own e-reader and I want to read a book that isn't already loaded on a Kindle?

There's another question which is, are the books that might be available for a library in electronic format anything that I would even WANT to read? In other words, let's say there's a new title that comes out in paper. I can go to my library and check it out (whether locally or through interlibrary loan) , although I might be on a waiting list. It's not clear to me that I would be able to do the same thing with a new title that is electronic, due to DRM. Would a library, for example, go out and buy (or get a discount) on a new title for an ereader? If that library did, seems like the library would have to be in the business of going up and changing the account and checking out the title FOR THEM to the person that was checking out the title (that is, transferring ownership on a temporary basis). But if it required that ownership be transferred, as I think maybe Kindle/Amazon have it, what would ensure that the person who got the title would have to return it if that person was not ethical?

And I don't think you can even do that, because apparently the issue is intellectual property versus physical ownership. When my father recently passed away, I was at my mom's clearing out some stuff and she gave me a number of books to read. Those books became MINE when they passed into my hands, even though she was the one who bought them. Some of those books I will be placing into a box and taking to the library to donate to them, with the intention that they can either add them to their collection or sell them to raise money. Easy transfer, right? I'm willing to bet that's what most people do with their books-pass them on if they're not keeping them to others or selling them. Either way the person who gets the book owns it.

That doesn't appear to be true with a Kindle and probably other ereaders. YOu are buying a crippled license, although the whole issue will need to be (and probably will be) tested in court. But the kicker is this.

If a court ruled with you on that front, you still can't sell reproductions of your copy, an illegal act tantamount to Xeroxing your Harry Potters. You'd have to sell the physical media where the "original" download is stored—a hard drive or the actual Kindle or Sony Reader. Our guess is that it only gets more complicated from here. What happens when the file itself resides only on some $20-per-month Google storage locker?

I don't think you can transfer books you own to the Kindle, although I suppose if you took the time to scan in a book to PDF format, you could transfer that format. But then, that would be violating copyright laws for the book. Sigh.

Seems to me, overall, that there is an inherent impasse between the egalitarian public nature of libraries with books, and the private, more exclusive pinkies up nature of an ereader. In other words, it becomes equivalent to a toll road versus a public road-something that those who have extra money who can afford to pay will go for, but the rest of us who might want to enter the electronic digital age will find excluding because of the very nature of how it operates.

P.S. as a side note, how the fool is that going to work with a whole raft of public education children who will be weaned off books and onto exclusive ereaders?


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