My love/hate relationship with ebooks

First off, I must admit that my library currently has no ebooks in its collection.  Neither did the last one I worked at.  Fundamentally, it all comes down to one big problem – logistics.

  • How can we make our circulation systems work with ebooks?
  • How can we ensure that these materials don’t get copied?
  • How can we easily distribute these holdings to only our patrons?

There are various solutions out there, and I will pursue one eventually.  For now, our impending migration to a new circulation system has meant that projects like this are temporarily on hold.

Stanza has been suggested as a possible solution.  People have talked before about Amazon’s Kindle.  Sony has a similar product.  To me they all present the same problem – cost.  I really don’t think it’s practical for any library to pay the same (or often higher) price for a printed title and then to also pay three hundred dollars for readers to view them.

So we’ll likely stick with the system that will integrate best with our new circulation software, and that’s Follett’s ebooks.  They don’t integrate seamlessly with handheld devices (they run on PalmOS or PocketPC – apparently Follett has not yet heard of that new fangled gadget called an iPod).  They’re limited in title selection, and they cost just as much as print copies.

Can you see why I’m hesitant to hurry up and buy these things?

Apple, please save me (and my rapidly decreasing AAPL shares) and make a library solution for iTunes.