Internet Librarian 2011, Day 2: Ebook Panel

Panelists: Bobbi Newman, Sarah Houghton, Amy Affelt, Faith Ward


12% of US population own ebook readers. So it’s a very important issue, but one for a (right now) small population.

Barnes & Noble told people to get a Nook, then go to the library. In reality, they also needed a PC that connected to the web and could run Adobe Digital Editions. Not everyone who bought a Nook had access to that.

Kindle/Overdrive thing works easy. That puts us in a weird place – because the Kindle works better with Overdrive.

But it’s a bad deal, because Amazon has a lot of great data … Amazon now knows how many of our users read library books, what books, etc – guess how much of that we got? None of it. That’s a problem.


We are so greedy, we’ll take whatever the publisher gives us.

It’s important to provide this content for our users … but we need to look at the fine print.

Call out to Kansas librarians for standing up to Overdrive. Woo too!

Overdrive’s terms of service – they give us a license to access content, instead of owning it.

We need to read the license and not just sign them blindly.

More on Amazon getting stats and info on our patrons – this might violate intellectual freedom, and our official library policies.


With her job, she usually never needs to buy a whole book – she needs a table, a chapter, etc. This is really hard in ebook formats.

She needs to buy the Kindle book, but put it on a colleague’s Kindle – she can’t do that. She wants to pay a license to read, the right to read across all platforms

Faith Ward:

looked at how children read differently on ebooks. Found that more students made mistakes when reading ebooks

But they were more willing to read on a tablet than a print book

Discovered that she needs to work with parents to get kids to read more in this environment

She won’t teach a book that’s not in an ebook format.

She did a “bring in your own device” thing … found it was hard with so many different formats, but wouldn’t go back – they have embraced the new technology.

Q & A:

HP person – they can relate. She has to pass something along, but can’t. So she makes a copy or a screenshot or prints them out, then scans them, and turn them into PDF files so she can pass them along (my friend Edward does the same thing).

We pay more for digital editions than the customer does, even though in print we can buy in bulk and get 40% off.

Interesting – the teacher – purposefully choosing content that is available in ebook format. That means she is not choosing good content that isn’t yet available electronically. It’s a conscious decision for her.

Here is no unified voice that speaks for libraries on this topic? Bobbi says no… (I’ll interject that that’s what Library Renewal is working towards).

Lending ereader devices: Buffy Hamilton’s school library did this, but ran into trouble with Kindles so switched readers.

Sarah – difference between content and container – we have to subscribe to both. Bobbi – if you are loaning out a certain device, you are in essence saying that’s the best format. Is that what you want to say? (not sure I agree with that – need to think more about it)

One woman stood up and said “Jeff Bezos has never lied.” Just wanted to say … really? You can prove this? I seriously doubt it … just saying.

Bobbi gave a great plug for Library Renewal. Yay!

  • Gabdoyle

    This is all so depressing. It makes me want to go fight the good fight for libraries. But I’m just finishing my MLIS and I don’t have the energy to take on law degree.

  • davidleeking

    Agreed – we’ll need people in the trenches AND those lawyer types. At the least, when you get your degree and are working in the field (if you aren’t yet) – at the very least, read your license agreements and DON’T automatically agree to everything. Most libraries have lawyers or access to lawyers – have them read contracts and finagle wording. It’s small, but it’s a start.

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