Art Brodsky on the state of libraries in the age of digital books:
Imagine walking into a library or bookstore and needing three or four pairs of different glasses to read different books manufactured to specific viewing equipment. Or buying a book and then having to arbitrarily destroy it after say, two weeks. That’s just nuts. But it’s the current situation we’re in with ebooks.
Worse, the economics are awful:
Take the example of J.K. Rowling’s pseudonymous book, Cuckoo’s Calling. For the physical book, libraries would pay $14.40 from book distributor Baker & Taylor — close to the consumer price of $15.49 from Barnes & Noble and of $15.19 from Amazon. But even though the ebook will cost consumers $6.50 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, libraries would pay $78 (through library ebook distributors Overdrive and 3M) for the same thing. Somehow the “e” in ebooks changes the pricing game, and drastically. How else does one explain libraries paying a $0.79 to $1.09 difference for a physical book to paying a difference of $71.50 just because it’s the electronic version? It’s not like being digital makes a difference for when and how they can lend it out.
It’s sad, but it’s hard to imagine a role for the majority of libraries in the future. Maybe they become more like internet cafes (with some great art) or maybe they just fade away…
With all the challenges Amazon takes on, how is this not something they’ve addressed? Doesn’t it seem that they could provide a back-end available to public libraries that would allow for the purchasing and subsequent borrowing of ebooks?