Thursday, August 07, 2008

eBooks For Free

We have raised the question of the role of the library within the ebook world. We have written about Overdrive’s Digital Tour and libraries giving registered members free access to digital from anywhere at any time. Just think you can download books whilst the librarian is asleep in bed and the library all locked up. Yet the debate as to how libraries and retailers will digitally co-exist remains largely unvoiced.

Today we read an article in Reuters which gives us some more insights. It reports that in Phoenix a group of library branches, or should the collective noun be a shelf-full, have created a library of some 50,000 titles of ebooks, audiobooks, music tracks and videos that can be checked out from anywhere for free. The community apparently love it.

Just like books the member selects the titles and checks them out and three weeks later, poof, they disappear.

OverDrive with an estimated inventory of some 100,000 titles and working with 7,500 libraries is a major force behind this quiet revolution. Although the files are downloaded to a PC they can then be transfers to many devices dependant on the library and the file format etc.

What is the position of a library versus a retail outlet? When the books were physical people had to consciously attend the library and find the book, but today they merely search an online inventory and download for free, at anytime, for anywhere.
The question we all need to ask is, why would you expect the consumer to pay for it?

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