(Originally published in Off the Shelf, The Arts & Culture Blog of Evanston Public Library
I’m going to be in so much trouble here—with librarians, with library users, with my coworkers—well, just about everyone I have talked to in the last six months. In my household, we are now the sheepish owners of a Kindle with Global 3G and wifi (as well as a Kobo, and ipad).
How did this happen, you might ask? How did this librarian who loved her Kobo so much give into the hype, and purchase the least library compatible device out there???
The short answer is because of Amazon’s absolutely enormous selection of titles. To be locked out of this option sometimes seemed like having a car that could not be driven on the highway, or for all the CTA riders out there, like having a CTA card that could only be used on the #29 bus. Right now, Amazon owns this business of ebooks. To pretend that they do not is like buying a HD DVD player when Blu-ray runs the game.
It breaks my heart to admit this, because I really wanted to love an open platform system (Kobo) that was compatible with library ebooks (Kobo). But, I soon realized that due to publisher baditudes, libraries were often permanently locked out of prime content on Overdrive/My Media Mall. To meet my insatiable reading demands, instead of downloading books that I really didn’t want to read, I found myself purchasing two to three books a week from the Kobo store. After three months of this, I soon realized that as much as I loved the Kobo Store, the amount and diversity of content did not compare to Amazon.
I have loads of questions (and frustration) after I’ve come to this realization: Where does this leave libraries? Are books only for the wealthy? Will publishers allow libraries to purchase copies of their most popular ebooks, or will we be marginalized as well? Will Overdrive/My Media Mall ever develop an up-to-date interface that can support our tech-savvy patrons? Or, will Amazon get smart and offer a library system that benefits them too?
I suppose that I can’t answer all of those questions right now, but for this moment, I now have two dedicated ereaders and one guilty conscience.