TechieThing #2 – eBooks and eReaders!
March 26, 2012 § 87 Comments
An eBook is an electronic book, which may be read on a variety of electronic devices, from computers and laptops, to tablets, eReaders, and smartphomes. At the most basic, eBooks are digital files. How you read the digital file and transfer them to different devices depends on your hardware – the computer, the operating system of your computer, and the software you have installed.
eBooks have different file extensions depending on the format – for example, .pub (for an ePub format eBook), .pdf (a PDF format eBook), .wma (for a Windows Media Audio format audio book), or .mp3 (an MP3 format audio book). And just like for other types of digital files, you have to have the right software to read the format, and you need that software on the proper hardware device.
Not all devices support all format types. Here’s an infographic that outlines this issue: http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/wp-content/uploads/ebook_readers_formats2.png
A distinct advantage of eBooks is that any title can be turned into a large print title – you can change the text size easily. Some titles may even support text-to-speech capability, also. Other advantages:
- most ereader devices include support for dictionaries, so you can look up a word right from your reading screen
- eBooks are eco-friendly – printed books use 3 times more raw materials and 78 times more water to produce!
- eBooks are easy to annotate and bookmark
eBooks are also evolving – look for increased interactivity and multimedia support for newer titles!
Also, a recent Harris Poll survey found that:
- eBooks represent a big market. Annual revenues from eBooks delivered to portable devices to $9.7 billion by 2016, up from $3.2 billion this year.
- eReader owners tend to read more. 32% of ereader users read from 11 to 20 books a year – twice as much as readers of traditional books.
- 1 in 6 Americans own a eReader or will purchase one in the next six months.
This infographic represents the survey’s findings: http://www.livescience.com/16535-readers-kindle-popularity-infographic.html
What is Digital Rights Management (DRM)?
The purpose of DRM technology is to control access to, track and limit uses of digital works. Because of DRM, you have to download separate pieces of software before accessing certain types of eBooks and use special DRM software on your computer and devices. Also, the library cannot legally buy eBooks directly from Amazon or Audible and then loan that copy. Libraries are currently legally required to purchase special library-licensed versions of these titles from intermediary companies that specialize in working with libraries. As a result, not all titles that are available to customers are available at the library because some publishers will not license their content for use by libraries.
SJPL has both downloadable and online only e-collections, all protected by Digital Rights Management (except Freegal).
Downloadable eBooks, eMusic, and eAudiobooks
Must first be checked out and then downloaded before being displayed or played. Files check out for 1, 2, or 3 weeks – you choose when you first check out the item. You can use downloadable content on a desktop or laptop computer, or transfer it to a portable device such as a smart phone or digital audio player.
- OverDrive: Our largest, most popular collection. Fiction and non-fiction titles; music – classical, children’s music (eBooks, eAudiobooks, and music). Adobe Digital Editions required for eBooks, OverDrive Media Console required for eAudiobooks and music.
- OneClickDigital: Fiction and non-fiction titles (eAudiobooks only). Requires user to create an account and download OneClickDigital Media Manager. An app for the iPad is coming soon! No waiting lists, all titles work on iPods.
- EBSCO: Fiction (eBooks and eAudiobooks) and non-fiction titles (eBooks only). Requires Adobe Digital Editions to download eBooks, EBSCO Download Manager for eAudiobooks. eBooks also available for online viewing (no download required). Users are required to set up an EBSCO account to download.
- Freegal: Popular Sony artists; MP3 downloads. No DRM! 7 tracks a week now until May!
- Gale Virtual Reference Library: Children’s reference and travel titles. Download per chapter only.
Online eBooks and eAudiobooks
These titles display instantly using your web browser – like IE or Firefox. You don’t have to check out these items and you can’t transfer them to mobile devices.
- EBSCO Legal eBooks: Nolo and other popular legal self-help titles.
- Learning Express Library eBooks: PDF ebooks for exams such as SAT, GED, GRE, GMAT, Civil Service jobs, and ASVAB.
- Missions of California eBooks: California missions books.
- Marshall Cavendish eBooks: animals, states books.
- Safari Books Online: Programming and IT eBooks published within the last three years.
- TumbleBook Library: Children’s picture books and chapter books with both text and audio.
- BookFlix: Animated books and games for kids grades K through 3.
- Some of these collections are both online browsable and downloadable. Gale, EBSCO, Missions of California eBooks, Marshall Cavendish eBooks fall in this category.
- You can find all of the titles in SJPL’s e-collections in the catalog, except Freegal, TumbleBooks and BookFlix titles.
- SJPL’s Freegal subscription will end on May 1.
- All fiction from before the year 1900 is in the public domain so you can find most classic titles for free online. You can also find many works that don’t have an active copyright holder – OpenCulture.com features a great list of these titles (http://www.openculture.com/free_ebooks).
eBooks in Libraries – Diminishing Content
A recent disappointing development for eBooks in libraries has been the diminishing access to content from popular publishers. As you may recall, Harper Collins imposed a 26-checkout limit on its titles. Penguin Publishing no longer sells to the library market. The only remaining publisher of the Big Six, Random House, recently tripled the amount they charge the library market. Another issue is the user experience for library customers accessing eBooks – libraries would like integration with Millennium and other ILS software, of course.
Here’s a NYT article that discusses some content limitation issues: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/business/for-libraries-and-publishers-an-e-book-tug-of-war.html
Here’s an updated article about the same topic: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-penguin-ends-relationship-with-overdrive-no-e-books-in-libraries-at-all/
Here’s a recent article by Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive that discusses some of the difficulties libraries are facing: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/2012/03/26/doing-it-for-themselves-libraries-and-e-books/
Here’s ALA’s response to the situation: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/american-library-association-president-molly-raphael-ala-delegation-discuss-library-e-book-
Three Part Assignment:
1. Post a common complaint a customer has brought up with you regarding eBooks and your resolution to the problem.
2. What is your favorite online resource for keeping up with eBooks or learning more about them? Please share at least one.
3. What do you think public libraries should do about diminishing eBook availability? For example, should we alert the public to write letters to publishers, as some librarians are encouraging ? Please share your thoughts about this critical issue.
By Mana Tominaga