Once again New Zealand libraries are fighting to remain relevant, this time in the provision of ebooks.
Paul Sutherland from Christchurch City Libraries provided a succinct overview of the dilemma on the PUBSIG listserv last week.
Hi all Overlooking the issue of the good and evil of DRM and the relative merits of vendors such as Overdrive, Wheelers etc many New Zealand libraries have invested in E-books from Overdrive, and three Public Library consortia are about to enter into that investment with Overdrive. And many more will with Wheelers new platform. Currently these two platforms and others such as the less Public Library orientated players such as NetLibrary all have common file formats. They all offer PDF of ePub - with or with out DRM. You may know that the Amazon Kindle does not play PDF - or ePub. There may be ways to get these onto a Kindle - a quck google will reveal some tips - but we as Libraries cannot recommend such measures that may circumvent the DRM layers etc. Earlier this year Overdrive announced a partnership with Amazon that would see Overdrive titles usable on Kindle http://goo.gl/wwp9Q And the rumour is that this will happen in September - and possibly coincide with the release of the Harry Potter franchise into the eBook world http://goo.gl/AeokO But only in the US - for now! (for probably a long while...) So why does this matter to us? Well Dick Smith and Woolworths (in Australia) and Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand, had announced that as from the end of August they will be selling Kindle ereaders in their stores. And now they are here. http://goo.gl/dxUaE So my question is how do we tell our customers - something like - "Don't buy a Kindle if you want to use the library - buy a Kobo, or Sony or an Ipad or an Android." "Or sorry that you bought a Kindle without asking us first... It just won't work with the library." We have some info on our website, directing people to the Overdrive compatible list. http://goo.gl/JWdyN What have others done - or will do? Or do we just not worry? /paul
In my view, it’s time to stop being so polite and apologetic. If libraries are to remain relevant and a part of society, we need to aggressively promote our ebook collections. (We need to do lots of other things too, but that’s for another post. )
There are enough alternatives in the NZ ereader market to satisfy our reading public. You don’t even need a dedicated ereader to read ebooks. We must help our customers make a decision.
This is a perfect opportunity to tell our customers that you can’t use your Kindle ereader to borrow ebooks from the library because Amazon won’t let it. It’s not the fault of libraries. But if libraries don’t let customers know, then who will? Some Dick Smith salespeople may for the first week, but not all. And after that who will?
Now is not the time to rely on customers finding the ereader guides we have on our websites. We must be visible and we must have a simple message. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Because it may be too late by then.
So here’s a suggestion:
3 things your Kindle can’t do….but other ereaders can
- Borrow ebooks from the library
Your library has a wide selection of ebooks that you can borrow – bestsellers, business, languages, and more. Amazon doesn’t allow your Kindle ereader to download these books, but all other ereaders will work.
- Share ebooks with friends and family
Ebooks from your library can easily be borrowed by friends and family, just like any other book. Amazon doesn’t allow your Kindle ereader to borrow these books, but all other ereaders will work.
- Buy and read ebooks from other stores
Your library doesn’t play favourites. It purchases ebooks from many publishers and checks that they can be read using a variety of ereaders. Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t play so nicely. Amazon won’t let New Zealand libraries buy their ebooks, and they also won’t allow your Kindle ereader to purchase ebooks from other stores.
Use your Kindle ereader for buying new books, and another ereader to borrow books from the library.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below or via email and please feel free to use the bits that you find useful.
Other articles that may interest you:
- Ebook providers in New Zealand: OverDrive and Wheelers
- A librarian and his ebook
- Disruption is in the air