Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reflection #1: The World of E-Books

This week, we were required to read any children's book in an electronic format and three articles about e-books.

I'll start with the e-book that I chose. I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. I had read this book before, in print. My students love to read books from this series. However, I much preferred reading it in an electronic format. I was able to read the entire book in about thirty minutes. While I am a fast reader, the e-format made it a lot easier to complete the reading. Overall, it is a faster process of analyzing and gaining information, in my opinion. I love the features e-readers provide their readers: highlighting, making notes, accessing an online dictionary, etc. You can do these things with print, but an e-reader makes it so much simpler.

As far as the articles go, well, a few things stood out to me. First of all, it shocks me that e-books are more expensive than print books for a library. I think there were things mentioned in the articles that I hadn't thought about before. When consumers purchase e-books from places like Amazon, the Kindle edition is typically cheaper than a print version. When libraries purchase e-books, however, they have to pay for the content and license to share that content with their patrons. This raises the cost. Then, when the license runs out, they have to make the decision whether or not to repurchase. Just from that alone, I can see why libraries are very hesitant to purchase e-books. The article "Purchasing E-books in Libraries" mentioned that "...82 percent of public, and 44 percent of school libraries are already offering e-books,..." and after reading these articles, I can understand why the others haven't gotten on board yet.

The article "E-Book versus Print" showed that in a public library, print books circulate more than e-books (or at least in that particular library). While that is good news for the library as a building, as a center for information and BOOKS, it almost makes you wonder why public libraries offer the option at all, especially with the cost concerns. Other studies that this article mentioned are solely limited to academic libraries. I can understand why the trend in academic libraries is that e-books are used two to three times more than print books. It's all about ease of access to information. As a graduate student myself, I'd rather pull up a book on my MacBook or iPad, find the information I need quickly, and not have to worry about checking out a print book just to use for one paper. It makes the process much simpler.

One of the biggest "issues" that libraries face today is the growing demand for e-books. Some might even say that e-books and e-readers make libraries and librarians obsolete. This is absolutely not true. In fact, Steven Roxburgh, author of "The e-Future," states that he's not worried about librarians at all. He says that "we'll always need librarians to organize, track, and deliver content."

This is a brilliant time for authors and illustrators. Their content is being sold, shared, and read more and more now that e-books are as popular as they are. The issue is whether the library should be another outlet for patrons to get e-books. I say, yes. Offer the most popular titles and don't worry about the rest. The most popular titles will be circulated and you will get a return on your investment.