Friday, 27 January 2012

Kindles in Libraries

On Monday a member of our E-Learning team bounced into the library workroom and enthusiasticaly announced that the college had purchased a number of Kindles for use in the college. I was out at the time so it wouldn't be fair of me to recount second hand the reception he got off my boss. Sceptical might be a fair summary.

A couple of days later I bumped into him in the corridor and raised the subject of what the plan was. It turns out there isn't one but staff will be invited to put forward innovations. As is often a case we're adopting the 'lets have a go and see what happens approach', something which isn't necesserily a bad idea, certainly the itunes U work the college has done previously proved it successful.

I'm  not saying buying Kindles isn't a good idea. I'm not even that worried about the licensing issue raised by loaning out a Kindle to multiple students. It does seem, at least for the time being, that publishers are turning a blind eye to this activity.
The problem for me is more specific. Kindles are tied to Amazon and a single format in a way that no other ereader is. They're not compatable with either our existing Ebrary or Dawson Era ebooks (except in a very limited way which involves creating image PDFs from single chapters of books) and there is no expectation that they will be. The college could have brought any other ereader on the market and we could have used them with both Dawson Era and Ebrary. It's just no one asked us first.

I'm waiting to see waits going to happen and follow it on here. In other college Kindles have been a great success, espeically when used to deliver fiction or services to VIP students. Maybe I'll even put an innovation idea in.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Will they, won't they? Another strand to the e-book argument.

There's no doubt e-books and e-readers will have been big sellers over Christmas but this take on e-book lending from publishers does raise a lot of questions for public libraries in England. If libraries are going to be blocked from lending best sellers is there much point in spending large sums on systems such as Overdrive? 

It's a similar situation to the reluctance of education publishers to make certain text books available as e-books - they don't won't to lose out on the sales. In an average college popular textbooks have relatively short lives, they either get stolen or lost or fall apart because of the frequency of issue. An indestructible e-book would save college libraries a small fortune but could potentially seriously impact on the publishers profit margins.

Visions from the New Year (via JISC)

The students would never pick up a book again.