E-readers and Libraries
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E-readers and Libraries E-readers and Libraries Document Transcript

  • Running Head: E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 1 E-readers and libraries 17:610:550 Beth Bouwman Professor Joe Sanchez 12/17/09 ebouwman@eden.rutgers.edu
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 2 Abstract.......................................................................................................................................3 Overview of topic.......................................................................................................................4 Description of e-readers............................................................................................................4 E-readers in libraries today......................................................................................................6 • What types of libraries use e-readers..............................................................7 • What kind of e-readers are used......................................................................7 • How and why libraries acquire e-readers.......................................................8 • How libraries chose titles..................................................................................9 • Guidelines for borrowing.................................................................................10 • Reaction to e-reader borrowing programs.....................................................12 • Legal issues........................................................................................................12 Conclusions.................................................................................................................................13 References...................................................................................................................................14
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 3 Abstract This paper discusses e-readers and the differences and similarities between the most popular three types: the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. As these devices gain popularity, many public, academic, and school libraries have added them to their collections. As recent additions to the catalog, these devices also pose both new problems and new opportunities. Beyond deciding whether or not to carry them, libraries must consider whether or not the price is a deterrent, what titles to download, and who should be allowed to borrow the devices and for how long. There are also possible legal issues in lending out these new commercial gadgets. This paper explores all of these issues and discusses how different libraries have created different strategies for dealing with them. Finally, this paper also considers the future of e-readers and whether or not libraries should or will continue to offer them to their patrons. View slide
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 4 Overview of topic E-readers are devices that allow users to read digitized books without a computer. Because they store books in their memory, not paper, they can hold hundreds (or thousands, depending on the model) of books while still being lightweight and portable. E-readers have recently gained popularity, putting libraries on notice. How does an institution accustomed to lending physical books deal with a public that is beginning to gravitate away from physical books and towards e-readers? As e-readers show no sign of fading away, this is a pressing issue that should be dealt with. I chose this topic specifically because of the topicality of the issue and the potential libraries have to increase their relevancy by embracing these devices. Description of e-readers View slide
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 5 Although e-readers are not a new technology, they have only recently become popular. Today, there are three major e-readers available: the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the recently- released Nook. Currently, the Kindle is the most popular. Visually, all of the flagship models of these readers seem fairly similar (particularly as their marketing departments all tend to favor the same “e-reader being held by disembodied hands” photograph style). All three e- readers are of a similar size and have a main screen of e-paper surrounded by a plastic bezel. Page turn buttons are on the sides (both sides for the Kindle and Nook; right only for the Sony Reader Pocket Edition). The Kindle has a small physical keyboard, and the Nook has a small color LCD touch screen under the e-paper, but it is still difficult to distinguish these devices from each other if you squint. Pricing is also similar. The newest versions of the Kindle are $259 for the 6’’ screen and $489 for a larger 9.7” DX version (Amazon Kindle). Sony’s mainstream Pocket Edition sells for $199, its Touch Edition costs $299, and its 7’’ Reader Daily Edition (meant to compete with the Kindle DX) is $499 (All Reader Digital Books). The Barnes and Noble Nook has only one version currently, which it is selling for $259, exactly the price of the 6’’ Kindle (Nook, eBook reader, eReader).
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 6 version currently, which it is selling for $259, exactly the price of the 6’’ Kindle (Nook, eBook reader, eReader). Though these e-readers do not differ substantially in looks, they do have varying features. The Nook stands out from the other e-readers with its replaceable battery, SD slot (allowing users to store myriad more books), and novel feature allowing users to share books with other users for short periods of time (Griffey). Though the Kindle offers none of these features, it has its own perks. For example, its new text- to-speech program allows users to hear any publication (that the publisher has allowed) to be read aloud in a passable robotic voice (Amazon Kindle). Both the Kindle and the Nook have the advantages of large book, newspaper, and magazine selections through the Amazon and Barnes & Noble online stores, respectively. Sony Readers may not be backed by a bookselling giant, but they, too, have their benefits. Sony has a partnership with Google Books, giving users “access to over a million free public domain titles” (All reader digital books). They also accept many more file formats than other e-readers, including Word files, Adobe digital editions, and the ePub/ACS4 format (All reader digital books). This allows the Sony Reader to download e-books from libraries, thus greatly extending its usability and affordability. Libraries that
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 7 already provide e-book downloads can provide Sony Readers without worrying about paying extra for e-reader content. Unlike the Nook and the Kindle, however, most Sony Readers cannot wirelessly download books. Only the expensive, recently released Sony Reader Daily Edition has this option. Other versions must rely on computer downloads. Sony Readers also have SD slots, like the Nook (All reader digital books). E-readers in libraries today Though unheard of a few years ago, libraries are capitalizing on this new technology to offer more services to their users. “The Sparta Library likes to be on the technological cutting edge, and our patrons like us to be there too,” says the assistant director of a library offering e- readers (Diane Lapsley, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Offering e-readers for checkout, however, creates new problems for libraries. Issues such as whether or not it is appropriate to offer an e-reader, what type(s) of e-readers to acquire, how to pay for these e- readers, how to pick titles, what borrowing procedures should be, and possible legal problems are all pressing concerns. Despite these setbacks, many libraries have met these issues and formed their own methods to solve them. What types of libraries use e-readers Although lending e-readers is still uncommon, the libraries that are doing so represent many types of libraries. Public libraries such as the Sparta Public Library in New Jersey, school libraries like Madison High School in South Dakota, and academic libraries like North Carolina State University all has e-reader lending programs (Libraries lending out Kindles). The Cushing Academy (a private boarding high school with plenty of funding) has not just offered e-readers as a supplement to
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 8 their collection, but actually replaced most of it with 65 Kindles (Toppo). Though elementary and middle schools may not want to risk their children damaging expensive equipment, libraries dealing with teenagers and adults may find lending e-readers an exciting and intriguing option. What kinds of e-readers are used? Most libraries lending e-readers lend the Amazon Kindle. According to Diane Lapsley, the assistant director of the Sparta Library, her library chose the Kindle because they “we felt that with the downloading capabilities it would be much easier to use, and that turned out to be true” (personal communication, November 2, 2009). Mary White, the director of the Howe Public Library, said that she chose the Kindle because “at the time that was one of the best options out there” (personal communication, November 2, 2009). White was open, however, to other options that might be released in the future. The Kindle’s enormous library, easy wireless downloading, and considerable commercial success likely have also contributed to its popularity in libraries. The Kindle is not, however, the only e-reader currently in library circulation. Many libraries instead lend out the Sony Reader, such as the Broward County Library in Florida (Broward County commission libraries division). Some libraries even lend out both Sony Readers and Kindles (Libraries lending out Kindles). The Kindle, however, is vastly more popular and the Nook has yet to appear in collections (possibly because Barnes & Noble only has a limited supply and is shipping htem out slowly). Part of the Kindle’s success in libraries may be because it has been out longer than some other readers. As the Nook matures and gains popularity, it may begin to replace or supplement the Kindle at certain libraries. Mary White, for example, is interested in possibly adding one to her collection (personal communication,
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 9 November 2, 2009). As Sony produces new models, such as the recently release Sony Reader Daily Edition, its e-readers may also begin to appear in greater numbers. How and why libraries acquire e-readers All e-readers are expensive. Add in the cost of downloading books to the device, and lending out even one e-reader can be prohibitively expensive. This has not stopped libraries from starting lending programs, however. Many have found creative solutions to this quagmire. Some libraries use donated e-readers, such as the libraries at Penn State. Eager for the opportunity to study how e-readers can be used in an academic setting, Sony donated 100 e- readers to the university in exchange for the University’s cooperation in the study (Libraries and English Department Partner). The Mead Public Library in Wisconsin bought its five Kindles “with funds from the William R. Werk Estate, designated for materials that assist the visually impaired,” emphasizing the Kindle’s capability to read certain publications out loud (Kindles at Mead Library). The Sparta Library used their gift fund to purchase their Kindles (Diane Lapsley, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Other libraries justify the cost of the hardware by the fact that the books themselves tend to be cheaper. “New Kindles run from $200 to $500, but [Cushing Academy’s
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 10 headmaster] says he can purchase many e-titles much more cheaply than traditional books. Often he pays just $5 apiece, so for the price of a $30 hardback, he now orders six e-books” (Toppo). Beyond price, however, is the question over why libraries should lend e-readers. For the Cushing Academy, adding Kindles to their library was a way to appeal to their tech-savvy students and to prepare for them for the digital future (Toppo). Cushing’s headmaster also believes that digital access to library works is the only way to save the future of libraries from being obscure and obsolete (Toppo). Brigham Young University started its Kindle program in order to provide faculty with titles they normally would have to order through interlibrary loan. By buying and downloading these titles onto Kindles, faculty was able to access the publications they wanted in minutes, not days (Haddock). Other libraries choose e-readers simply to engage their patrons and to allow them to sample new technology. How libraries chose titles
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 11 There is no set formula for choosing e-books to download, or how to organize these downloads. Universities and high school libraries may choose e-reader titles that fit in with academic curriculum, or faculty interest. The Howe Public Library considers its title selection process “very casual” and puts the same several titles on each of its Kindles (May White, personal communication, November 2, 2009). The Sparta Public Library allows its patrons to chose and download titles onto their Kindles. Each patron can download one e-book for no charge, though they have to pay for any additional downloads. According to Diane Lapsley, this leads to “a really patron-driven collection” that benefits everyone who borrows a Kindle (personal communication, November 2, 2009). It also allows the library to sidestep the issue of what titles to pick and how to organize them. Most libraries, however, rely on librarians to chose titles and only lend e-readers with download capabilities turned off. Some libraries, such as the Bowdoin College library, put all available titles from each e- reader type on all the e-readers of that type that they lend (Kindle Titles). Other libraries organize titles by different subjects. The Weyenberg Library, for example, has a Kindle for fiction, a Kindle for nonfiction, and a “reader’s sample” Kindle (Weyenberg Library now offers 3 Kindles). The River Forest Public Library in Illinois also organizes titles by subject, but goes further to include such specialized e-readers as “the Popular Fiction Kindle, the Popular Non-
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 12 Fiction Kindle, the Mystery and Suspense Kindle, the Leadership Non-Fiction Kindle, and the History Non-Fiction Kindle” (Kindle). Guidelines for borrowing Borrowing a Kindle or a Sony reader tends to be more involved than borrowing a book. Most libraries add extra restrictions on to borrowing these devices. For example, many libraries, such as the Howe Library, require patrons be at least 18 years old (personal communication, November 2, 2009). Libraries often limit the period of time the e-readers can be borrowed, such as the one week limit at the Gardner –Harvey Library at the Miami University Middletown campus (Burke). Libraries like the Howe Library also require users to sign a special agreement acknowledging financial responsibility for any damages or loss to the e-reader (personal communication, November 2, 2009). The Sparta Public Library also requires patrons to pay for damages, but the assistant director notes that they have “never experienced any losses or damage (I know! We can't believe it either!)” (Diane Lapsley, personal communication, November 2, 2009). The Mead Library also has security measures in place, requiring an ID in addition to a library card in order to take out a Kindle (Kindles at Mead Library). Late fees are high, at the rate of five dollars for every hour the library is open (Kindles at Mead Library). Some libraries also have at
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 13 least one device that can only be used within the library, such as the River Forest Public Library (Kindles). Reaction to e-reader borrowing programs The response to these programs has been astounding. At the Sparta Public Library, for example, a waiting list of 20 or more patrons is not unusual (Diane Lapsley, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Offering e-readers may bring new users into the library and excited patrons who have not used the library recently. Patrons enjoy on “the technological cutting edge” (Diane Lapsley, personal communication, November 2, 2009). The Howe Library notes that its patrons enjoy being able to play with the new technology and have not minded the relatively low number of titles (only 14) or restrictions on borrowing (Mary White, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Legal issues Even after a library has decided to buy an e-reader, found money to pay for it, bought titles, and worked out borrowing terms, its problems may not yet be over. Though Sony seems to have no problem with libraries lending out its products (as evidenced by their previously- mentioned gift to Penn State), Amazon seems ambivalent about the process. Their terms of service are vague and may preclude libraries lending the device. The Kindle TOS has shut at least one program down: Brigham Young University suspended lending Kindles to faculty last June because they could not get permission from Amazon in writing (Haddock). Amazon has been inconsistent in deciding this issue. According to an article in Library Journal, one Amazon spokesman declared library borrowing against the TOS, while another Amazon representative cleared the Howe Library to lend Kindles (Oder). Most libraries have had difficulty, however, even getting hold of anyone at Amazon to talk to. According to Mary White, every time she
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 14 calls Amazon she “merely gets a recorded message” (personal communication, November 2, 2009). Though this lack of communication is worrying, there is no history, of Amazon taking any action against libraries. As lending programs began over a year ago, it is increasingly unlikely that Amazon will take action in the future. Conclusions At this point in time, it is difficult to accurately guess the future of e-readers. The technology is fairly new and no library has had a program for more than a couple years. It is likely, however, that e-books and e-readers will continue to exist, and continue to be popular. If libraries are to continue to appeal to an increasingly technology-savvy public, they will need to add new technologies such as e-readers to their collections. It is unlikely, however, that e- readers will ever completely supplant books. Even Cushing Academy, the school that is replacing most of its collection with Kindles, still has some printed books and other materials that they do plan on discarding (Oder). Though it is impossible to tell for sure, the future will likely include both books, e-readers, and e-books downloaded onto computers and mobile phones.
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 15 References (n.d.). All Reader Digital Books. Retrieved from http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/ servlet/CategoryDisplay? catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644523779&N=4 294954529 (2007, January 10). Broward County commission libraries division announces new Sony Readers now available at Broward County library. Retrieved from http://www.browardlibrary.org/web/PR/11007_sonyreader.pdf Burke, J. (2009, September 4). The Kindle is here! Message posted to http://ghlibrarynews.blogspot.com/ Griffey, J. (2009, October 21). Barnes & Noble’s Nook steps into the ring with Kindle. Message posted to http://www.alatechsource.org/blog Haddock, M. (2009, June 20). BYU suspends Kindle program over legal concerns. Deseret News. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705310939/BYU-suspends- Kindle-program-over-legal-concerns.html (n.d.). Kindles. Retrieved from http://www.rflib.org/books-and-media/kindles (n.d.). Kindles at Mead Library. Retrieved from http://www.meadpubliclibrary.org/books/kindle (n.d.). Kindle Titles. Retrieved from http://library.bowdoin.edu/ebooks/kindle-titles.shtml (n.d.). Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display- Generation/dp/B0015T963C/ref=dp_ob_title_def
  • E-READERS AND LIBRARIES 16 (n.d.). Libraries and English Department Partner in Exploration of Digital Readers. Retrieved from http://alumni.libraries.psu.edu/libtodaySony.html (n.d) Nook, eBook reader, eReader. Retrieved from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/ (2009, June 16). Libraries lending out Kindle. Retrieved from http://ireaderreview.com/2009/06/16/libraries-lending-kindle/ Oder, N. (2009, April 12). Mixed answers to “Is it OK for a library to lend a Kindle? Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705310939/BYU- suspends-Kindle-program-over-legal-concerns.html Toppo, G. School chooses Kindle; are libraries for the history 'books'? USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-10-26-kindle-school-library_N.htm (n.d.). Weyenberg Library now offers 3 Kindles. Retrieved from http://www.flwlib.org/news.cfm?id=132