What ebooks mean for Libraries

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  • 1. Peter Brantley ALA NISO/BISGInternet Archive New Orleans LA 06.2011
  • 2. eBooks are a conundrum
  • 3. promise tremendous reach
  • 4. yet pose significanttechnical challenges
  • 5. arguably a threat tocommerce in books
  • 6. if libraries can do well with eBook platforms
  • 7. why buy when one can borrow?
  • 8. it’s a fair question
  • 9. but …multiplequiXotic issues
  • 10. publishers see books as a commodity
  • 11. libraries see books as a service
  • 12. access to information
  • 13. two opposing views of ebooks
  • 14. to place a different argument about culture (national) in a new context
  • 15. “eBooks are files, wrapped in a license,surrounded by technology, delivered by a contract” Michael Tamblyn Kobo Books
  • 16. “eBooks are books,wrapped in cultural life,surrounded by readers, delivered by history” Michael Tamblyn Kobo Books
  • 17. yet, weirdly,
  • 18. publishershave an advantage over libraries
  • 19. retail / distribution platforms(however the books are sold)
  • 20. providing contextual services(a different kind of metadata)
  • 21. social reading:sharing thoughts on a platform
  • 22. libraries value privacy
  • 23. social has been monetized(because social is valuable)
  • 24. “[digital] transforms the book from isolated vessel for text into a shared interface” Craig Mod
  • 25. “Digital marginalia is acollective conversation” Craig Mod
  • 26. so in that light
  • 27. libraries can buy books and then lend them
  • 28. without seriously impacting business models
  • 29. and ensuringa basic level of service (access to books)
  • 30. that’s what we want to do at the Internet Archive
  • 31. buy books andthen lend them
  • 32. we’re old fashioned that way
  • 33. greatest commercial value of ebooks is
  • 34. not reallythe book itself
  • 35. but the conversationaround and through the book
  • 36. peoplewill exchange money for
  • 37. the social life of books
  • 38. for experts’ glosses and the thoughts of friends
  • 39. a digital bookis a centroid onthe social graph
  • 40. “At MIT, his office … was crammed with books,most overdue from the college library. Dr. Lettvinclaimed he did not return them because thelibrary would send him the students who wantedthose books, and he would interview them aspotential assistants.”Jerome Lettvin; MIT professor with passion for ideas, a good debateby J.M. Lawrence, Boston Globe, May 15, 2011.
  • 41. selling a book is
  • 42. selling a ticket tothat conversation
  • 43. and let’s be real (for a second)
  • 44. libraries are already less than 5 percent of the book market
  • 45. and rather sadly wekeep getting poorer
  • 46. we’re not going to buy,and not going to lend
  • 47. enough books to impact sales
  • 48. but we can add connectionsamong those conversations
  • 49. publishers mightcall it “marketing” akatargeted impressions
  • 50. maybe we should geta commission on sales
  • 51. Alexis Madrigal said it more holistically in The Atlantichttp://www.theatlantic.com/technology/print/2011/06/what-big-media-can-learn-from-the-new-york-public-library/240565/
  • 52. “The library has become a social network with physical and digital nodes.” (emphasis added)
  • 53. but there’s one more problem
  • 54. a problem in the future
  • 55. for everyone (pubs and libs)
  • 56. that we’ll have to solve together
  • 57. because books aremoving to the web
  • 58. and if a book is nota container of things
  • 59. but a collection of links to places on the web
  • 60. interactive experiences across the network
  • 61. there’s nothing to download
  • 62. and I don’t know what it means
  • 63. to buy or borrow
  • 64. access to the web
  • 65. particularly
  • 66. if books can change
  • 67. where I read themwhen I read them
  • 68. who reads them who has read themwho I read them with
  • 69. these will bethe new books
  • 70. thanks!
  • 71. “Centroid”, Flickr!, CGehlen
  • 72. peter brantley internet archivepeter @ archive org @naypinya