E-books for libraries pushed by economy-minded Los Angeles councilman
October 17, 2009 | 1:15 am
Could this be the start of a trend—an economy-minded politician, in L.A., calling for the city’s public libraries to investigate the mass use of e-books in place of p-books?
“I just believe that with technology moving forward, we could save a great deal of money in not having to buy thousands of books each year when they could be made available online,” a wire service account quotes Councilman Bernard Parks.
“We have these beautiful brand new libraries and people were talking about building even more in the future. Do we want to get into warehousing books versus putting in digital materials that are easily accessible online?"
I’ve got mixed feelings here. The story quotes Park as saying that e-books aren’t more expensive than paperbacks. Currently, however, at least in many cases and perhaps most, publishers may demand compensation for multi uses and if nothing else prefer that libraries be charged more for copies than other buyers are. Beyond that, the L.A. library system already has started an e-book collection. And there is also another little issue: most books still are not available in E, and Simon & Schuster doesn’t even make e-books available for library use. Plus, there are accessibility questions, as L.A. librarians know all too well.
Parks’ heart is in the right place, however, and I hope that L.A. librarians will follow up and encourage publishers to make more titles available in E—ideally using the ePub standard. And if Parks can get more money to the library to buy e-books and provide users with adequate training and technical support, then so much the better.