21% of Americans have read an e-book. The increasing availability of e-content is prompting some to read more than in the past and to prefer buying books to borrowing them.
Sadly, unlike a regular person, a library cannot pay Amazon or Barnes & Noble for an eBook and then lend it out to people. We can buy a printed book from these companies, stick it on the shelf, and lend it out–but digital content is treated differently by the publishers and the companies who manage digital content licensing. We desperately want to offer you these eBooks. But the companies won’t let us. As your library, we commit to continuing advocacy for change in these policies.
For more info and to see who to contact, please see bit.ly/noebooks
“Libraries are a critical part of our communities,” Jay Marine, director of Kindle at Amazon, said in a statement. “And we’re excited to be making Kindle books available at more than 11,000 local libraries around the country.”
The introduction of the Kindle, the biggest-selling e-reader, opens up library e-books to a wider audience, heightening the fears of publishers that many customers will turn to libraries for reading material. If that happens, e-book buyers could become e-book borrowers, leading to a potentially damaging loss of revenue for an industry grappling with a profound shift in consumer reading habits.
(not our library, also not to scale…)
I have a theory about libraries. I think they make people happy and thoughtful. Kind. Appreciative. You’re in the presence of so much, given free.
Maybe it’s too much sugar in my morning coffee, but I get a little world-peacey about them. There’s something special about a place that lets you walk out with a bunch of books in exchange for nothing more than a chunk of plastic that isn’t even backed by your local financial institution.
I know libraries aren’t really free, of course. They’re funded by our taxpayer dollars, along with tomahawk missiles and metermaids, but when budget-cutting season comes around, it seems like libraries are more expendible.
I love libraries in a way I’ll never love tomahawk missiles or metermaids. I love beautiful historical ones, and ones with modern innovation. Bright libraries with walls of windows, and dark-paneled-enclaves with armchairs. Tiny local branches you can walk to, and big special ones worth the drive. I love knowing that the books on the shelves stay put, regardless of whether a hard drive fails or battery dies, whether a title goes out of print or out of vogue.
What are the best, most beautiful libraries, all the world over? Well now, who’s to say?
There’s a long tradition of writers writing about their libraries. Some of the first modern essays—by Michel de Montaigne and Sir Francis Bacon—are on that very subject. Among more recent publications, you might enjoy Anne Fadiman’s collection Ex Libris or Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. The trouble with people writing about their libraries is, well, every writer has one. It’s like writing about your left hand. Or your M.F.A. program. But McMurtry is a special case. If he had never written Lonesome Dove or The Last Picture Show, he would be famous—at least among collectors—as one of the country’s most respected dealers in used and rare books. When he writes about his library, he always has something interesting to say.