The E-(book/audio) Dilemma

E-book and E-audio books are fantastic! They are how I listen to the vast majority of my audio books and how I read most of the books on my honeymoon. However, they have some issues.

Where I live and work the majority of library systems work reciprocally. For example, you might live in the bounds of system A, but border system B, and work within system C. As long as you have a library card from system A, you can register your system A card with systems B and C and use their resources. EXEPT for e-resources (book, audio and zinio). This can be annoying because system C might have a bigger e-resource budget and can purchase more items, which you are unable to access. It all has to do with taxes and system budgets etc, which rationally makes sense, but we don’t usually think rationally at all times.

That’s issue number one.

Issue number two also makes rational sense, but in the world of Netflix and Spotify, patrons want immediate gratification. For my point to make sense, let me rewind… My husband finished A Game of Thrones on our last day of the honeymoon. Perfect timing, until our final connection got cancelled and our rescheduled flights the next day got delayed (seriously never fly with me). Anyway, I found A Clash of Kings in Overdrive and showed him how to download the book to his phone and I told him how in 3 weeks it would disappear, so he needed to read it fast. The first thing he said is “I can just download it again though, right?” Well, kind of… as long as nobody else has it on hold you can… This concept made no sense to him for a while, given my pop culture examples above. How many people do you think are watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix at any given time? Who knows, but it is a lot! Surly, if Netflix can make the resource available to everyone at any given time, the books should be available too. Since I haven’t done a whole lot of research on that particular subject, I decided to do some and find out why the systems work so differently (although, the main one is each subscriber pays for Netflix as opposed to taking advantage of a free system like the library).

Basically, it comes down to book publishers being a much more conservative breed than music and TV/movie producers, and the fact that publishers want you to buy their books. Therefore, they’re going to make it difficult to access in non-traditional ways and, according to K. T. Bradford, “publishers have decided to force libraries to treat e-books like paper books, so only one person can check them out at a time. The library can only check out as many copies of an e-book as they’ve purchased or licensed from publishers. Seems like an antiquated way of going about things, right? It gets worse. Publishers also decided that since e-books don’t wear out the way paper books do, they need to put limits on how many times a title can be lent before the library has to buy a new copy.” Finally, Jason Illian writes in Entrepreneur, “unlike music subscription services, like Spotify, where a user can consume hundreds of songs a day, the average ereader is lucky to get through one book a week or even a month…Conclusion? It’s hard to throw a game-changing party when people show up only sporadically and don’t want to pay a cover charge.”

Admittedly, the articles I referenced are not the most up to date, but I felt they explained the issues most clearly, and as far as I can tell, there aren’t any major changes, aside from Oyster going out of business.