Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Debate over E-Books

A few weekends ago I was in North Carolina and had a chance to stop by my very favorite book store, Quail Ridge Books. I'm always able to pick up a paperback there that I haven't yet heard of to enjoy later. This time, Robert Darnton's The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future caught my eye. I just finished reading it the other night.

I expected the book would talk more about how e-readers are changing and will change the face of libraries and the needs of their patrons, and the publishing and bookselling industry. I made this assumption because there is a picture of an e-reader on the book's cover. However, Darnton talked a lot more about how Google's e-book bogarting has brought about lawsuits, and particularly how university libraries and the academic world will be affected (good and bad) by making more books accessible online. So, interesting, yes, but not exactly what I expected.

So far I've resisted purchasing an e-reader for several reasons: 1) They cost a lot and a library card is free, 2) I like to hold books in my hand, 3) I like the way books smell, 4) I like the way books look on the shelf of my library, and 5) I almost never buy books.

Earlier this summer, my husband did ask me if I wanted an e-reader. I answered that until I was able to borrow library books via an e-reader, it was of little use to me. Well, recently my home county's library system in North Carolina started this, and each week they are growing their downloadable e-books. The library system is looking at this as a way to stay current with changing technology and save money. The library system also lowers the risk of losing loaned physical books, a great thing since the cost of replacing books adds up fast.

Attention, Fulton County, Georgia: Where is your e-book program? If you get one, I might consider purchasing an e-reader, especially since they've recently come down significantly in price. Here's hoping you'll have a program soon.

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