Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Library E-book feature overrated? New Lending site: eBook Fling


LibraryCity.Org reports on a blog article by Nathan Groezinger of The eBook Reader blog, opining that since more and more "people are turning to the library as a source for ebooks, the limitations of the service has [sic] become much more obvious."

He lists five problems he's noticed with this, and I'm just quoting the heading for each point and you should read the details there

  (Kindle-edition readers can now follow any article link and, after the article comes up, Kindle-3 users can click on Menu -> Article Mode to get rid of the non-article side-links) and read in larger fonts, with better contrast.
  Kindle-2 and DX users should use Basic mode to get larger fonts with better b&w contrast.

  He gives personal experiences as reasons for his doubt, and the commenters to the page's premise make interesting points on both sides.  The five problems listed (with his article-summary following the headings here) are:
#1. Limited number of copies and waiting lists
#2. 21 Days
#3. No library ebooks
#4. Fees for library cards
#5. Poor selection and random selection '

While access to library books is a real plus and the Kindle doesn't offer this feature (though the new lending sites are helping), Nathan G. wonders if libraries will be able to keep up with the demand, "especially with many publishers and authors feeling uncomfortable about library ebooks to begin with."

The L.A. Times's Alex Pham writes about eBook Fling as a "Netflix Instant Watch for digital books."

Their official Kindle-book lending/borrowing site opens officially today, though it was up and running yesterday, Pham says.
' Here's how it would work. Users can list any digital book they've purchased. When another member requests to borrow it, EBookFling sends the book owner a message with step-by-step instructions for lending it.  Each time the user lends a book, they earn a credit, which can be used to borrow other members' books.... Each lending period lasts 14 days...   [AB: because that is the time limit the publishers chose for this feature at Barnes and Noble and at Amazon.]

At the moment, the site is only registering new subscribers and letting them submit the titles they're willing to lend.  Users won't be able to start borrowing for a month or so while the site ramps up to a full launch, according to Nick Ruffilo, chief information officer for EBookFling. '

Its backer is BookSwim, "a profitable, privately held book rental service that operates much like Netflix.  The service lets subscribers borrow physical books via mail for a monthly fee ranging from $23.95 for 3 books checked out at a time to $59.95 for 11 books."

  How will they make money in the case of e-book borrowing?  Advertising?

An important point Pham makes is:
' Still, the service needs some cooperation from publishers, which ultimately get to decide whether they enable the lending feature for Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

  If lending eats into sales, publishers may reduce the lending period or opt out of the feature altogether. '

However, the extremely limited terms the publishers made (14-day loan, maximum, and a book being loanable only once ever) should allay publisher-anxiety in that the positive aspects (more people aware of and reading the author) will likely make up for the negative (any loss in sales).  And we can, in a way, see why they placed such heavy restrictions on the loaning feature.  It can become a bit like a multi-player game.

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1 comment:

  1. Worse thing about borrowing from libraries is that most people don't know how to return an ebook, so they just let it expire after they're done reading it, which means that it sits there on the borrower's computer preventing someone else from reading it in the meantime.

    With a physical book, the borrower knows how to return it, so being number 17 on the hold list rarely means you have to wait a year for your turn to come.

    Overdrive should really post a little notice telling people how to return their ebooks.


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