eBooks in Public Libraries

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Submitted by Greg 2010-05-11 05:03:33 EDT

Theme: Canada's Digital Content
Idea Status: +19 | Total Votes: 37 | Comments: 5

I want access to eBooks at my local public Library. I currently can't get eBooks there and moreover they don't provide eReaders. They do have a subscription to online publications but thats non-portable. The concept of lending out a book is nearing obsolesence — just give me a copy of the eBook. -I'll give it back if you want Lol. Oh wait, thats not necessary. So this is either going to happen here and now or it will happen in some other country and we'll have been left behind like a bunch of old people.


infzy — 2010-05-11 18:12:20 EDT wrote

The trouble with eBooks is that they are typically "sold" as licensed copies at an arbitrary cost, and crippled by Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology which prevents them from being as useful as they should be. eBooks might someday surpass regular print media in terms of usefulness and accessibility, but in order for that to happen we must reform copyright so that it grants more freedoms to the libraries and citizens of Canada to use them.

The Internet is the library of the future, but the government must protect our right to download, print, and transmit our digital works. Digital innovation is providing many new business models which don't rely on copyright and the nonsensical DRM technology of most eBooks to compensate the authors. DRM'd eBooks are mostly a sham to line the pockets of the publishing industry by revoking our civil liberties, and our government should not be subsidizing that through our libraries.

In short, I don't believe the libraries should stock eBooks that are crippled with DRM. They should, however, promote the distribution of eBooks which can be shared, such as the public-domain literature in Project Gutenburg (Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg).

Nscafe — 2010-05-17 06:55:19 EDT wrote

"The concept of lending out a book is nearing obsolesence — just give me a copy of the eBook."

A curious statement. One that I think is wholly dependant on what type of reader there is as well. Then I also remember, that lending libraries are a fairly new concept in terms of what a library is and so I tend to agree. Libraries have traditionally tended to be "a collection" to be enjoyed within the confines of the building, unless there is special permission sought and given.

Let the people who want books (physical or electronica) buy them and not borrow them. I know retailers would be happy with that solution. For consumers, as has already been mentioned, there a plenty of options available (Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Indigo, … ).

Sure, I can get an electronic book for free* but that won't replace a physical book and nor should it (I see long future for libraries and book retailers, so long as they adapt their models of operation to also change with the times).

May as well just start a new type of library. A place with decent seats free WiFi access to a service that are local mirrors of free digital book archives and let people stay there or grab a book and do with it what they want.

* (bandwidth nor device — iPad, Kindle, computer, smartphone — on which to read it upon not included)

R — 2010-06-09 12:05:54 EDT wrote

DRM simply can't exist in a public library without destroying its objective… see:

Digital Copyright Canada

dsampson — 2010-06-30 08:36:38 EDT wrote

At the Ottawa Public Library the DRM (Digital Rights management) platform is not based on an open and interoperable standard. Therefore clients are forced to use certain software. All public digital media including digital books should be using open and interoperable standards. This should support ALL popular OS's including WINDOWS. MC, *NIX

Russell McOrmond — 2010-07-08 10:53:32 EDT wrote

I think the concept of lending in the context where there isn't a physical medium will always be problematic. We need to use different terminology to understand this different relationship/scenario.

(A tool to understand: Protecting property rights in a digital world — not the question: "Audiences, as well as librarians and archivists, need to think about how the relationship is different if there is no physical medium."

What "lending" means in a pure digital sense is a creation of an additional digital copy which the recipient is mandated (preferably through contract law) to delete after a certain amount of time.

Unfortunately, this isn't yet adequately understood by those promoting the concept or drafting laws to regulate these scenarios.

I believe that bringing eBooks into "public" libraries during this time of learning and transition will do more harm than good, and essentially make "public" libraries into marketing arms of specific technology platform vendors.

Until we can treat contractual relationships (i.e.: by signing out this digital copy you agree, under penalty of law, to delete this file and any backups/copies in X days) in contract law, and not mess up other unrelated laws, we should avoid eBook lending entirely.

More on the contract vs copyright vsecommerce/etc. issues at: Bill C-32 Frequently Asked Questions

As a strong supporter of public libraries, I've voted down this idea.


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