Libraries, ebooks and readers

While watching a segment regarding the electronic revolution and the publishing industry on CBS Sunday Morning today (Out of Print, the Written Word Considered), something occurred to me. Some public library systems already loan electronic content like ebooks and audiobooks through a partnership with services like OverDrive, but they require reader software and the books must be read on a laptop or desktop computer unless you have a supported mobile device*.

What I’d love is for libraries to get together with one of the mainstream ebook readers – something like the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and the Barnes & Noble Nook. If they could get a bulk discount sufficient enough to make reselling the devices profitable, this could serve as a source of additional funding for libraries.That’s a big “if”, though, since even at wholesale prices they’re likely to be pretty dear in price.

The Nook and Sony Reader both allow for ebook loans through the OverDrive system used by libaries who offer this service.

At the least, though, accessibility to loaned content really needs to be out there for mobile users. There are tons of public domain books available for free download, but I know I’m not alone in wanting access to bestsellers and other contemporary content. I know I’d use it a lot since I like reading on my T-Mobile G1 phone.

What are your thoughts on publishing, electronic publishing and libraries? Any news you have on these fronts is very welcome, so please post comments!

* I just saw that OverDrive does, indeed, support some mobile devices — including Android! I’m downloading their beta and I’ll write more about it later (if I don’t, remind me!).

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