‘Should libraries develop their own e-book reader?’
August 12, 2008 | 12:28 pm
Library-developed hardware? I don’t think so. Better left to tech companies—as suggested in the TeleRead proposal. What would be good would be for libraries to come up with specs and change their procurement policies accordingly.
That said, I think that Brooklyn librarian Nate Hill was right to ask the question. One concern of his is privacy. A library-supplied machine—not necessarily the same as a library developed one—might help. But then again, would that really stop the feds? Libraries are publicly funded institutions that exist at the mercy of politicians, who might in fact ban devices assuring true anonymity.
The other issue: eBabel
Meanwhile I’m glad to see him unhappy with the present Tower of eBabel. It makes it harder for libraries to serve patrons owning a variety of devices. I hope he’ll encourage public libraries to be more aggressive on matters such as the ePub standard. Libraries should require vendors like OverDrive to offer ePub as at least an option with all books, except for those with layouts too complex for the present version of the standard.
The DRM angle
As for DRM, yes, standards would help, but the real answer is for libraries to try to cut back on its use and offer patrons other alternatives.