Why Don’t We Have a Spotify for Books

I have been a Spotify subscriber for almost a year now and use it every day at work. I am an avid eBook reader, I read every day, and I still long for a service that can do for my reading habit what Spotify does for my music habit. For those unfamiliar, Spotify is a music streaming service that for a very reasonably fee allows you to access a library of millions of songs across a variety of devices. It has it’s detractors, sure, http://torrentfreak.com/artists-think-instead-spewing-spotify-hate-140222/, but the service does provide, for me, at least a very attractive alternative to maxing out my credit cards or piracy.

Digital has forced a rethinking of ownership. In the analog days we owned vinyl albums, printed books, VHS tapes. These were all physical things that took up space on our shelves, in our closets and under our beds. In the digital age consumption has replaced ownership. For most things I am okay with that. I still look with pride on my shelf of H.P. Lovecraft collections, yet I would be lying if I did not say I enjoy the convenience of having them available on my smartphone when I’m waiting for an appointment. The ones on my shelf make up a collection; the ones in my phone are for my consumption.

Nathan Bransford poses an interesting question on this very same topic, http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2014/02/will-there-ever-be-successful-netflix.html His take has tasked me with questioning do we need a service for books. I usually read two eBooks a month, rarely spending more than $4 a book. That is less than my Spotify or Netflix account, yet I would still welcome a subscription service. Currently I buy eBooks, consume them and will probably leave them to occupy the ones and zeroes of cyberspace. I don’t really need to own these books once I have read them and I can’t sell them or in most cases lend them. I would just as soon pay $8 for a service that lets me consume those books as well as ones costing $9 or even the insane price of $14. At that point the service is saving me money.

Let’s go to the elephant in the room, the ugly painting on the wall, the word you probably have been shouting at this point. Libraries. In the interest of full disclosure I have no trouble saying I am a librarian and my opinion of borrowing eBooks from the public library, in a word, sucks. Many of the services I have tried are the epitome of shoehorning advancing technology into the status quo. As Leonard Hofstatder said, “way to think outside but press up against the box.” The Kindle Lending Library comes close as well but does me no good on my smartphone or tablet. So we still lack a competitive service for readers. That being said libraries are trying to move forward. I do feel the library has a reader’s best interests at heart and many of these issues get lumped in with the library continuing to evolve in our digital online connected world. Platforms like BiblioBoard show some real process. As does the concept of the Library as Publisher, http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/wanna-write-good-one-library-publisher. We are eventually seeing some real progress from libraries, but I can still hope for my eBook version of Spotify. Can’t I?

I Have Given up on Library E-Books

Since buying my smart phone two years ago I have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of reading I do. The convenience of e-readers on a device that’s always in my pocket has given me more opportunities to read. Alas this happened just as e-book prices began thier trek north, so my new pastime has become a costly one. I had hoped the library would have helped.

I have never been a big library user, (big revelation for a librarian huh). I am not the quickest reader, though I have gotten better, so the two week lending period for most items rarely gave me enough time to finish. Thank the library Gods for renewals, am I right? Right off the bat I was a little bummed that I could not renew the e-books that I borrowed from the library. That is not such a problem as I rarely find what I want to read in the lending que of my library’s e-book offerings. When I did find one I was promptly shuffled to a hold que and told to wait a few weeks. That thirty second download from the Kindle store is looking much better.

My next hope came from Open Library. A project form Internet Archive, Open Library boasted a collection of public domain and for loan books provided by member libraries. The open domain books come free of DRM so no checkout period hurdles for me. The borrowing library books did come with DRM (Adobe Digital Editions) and a two week loan period. Not so bad because at least I could find what I wanted to read.

Here is where it all went south. I recently upgraded my phone to the HTC Evo 4G LTE (clunky name great device). I was also halfway through Isaac Asimov’s The God’s Themselves on my old phone. Once I loaded up my e-reader app you can imagine my surprise, shock, anger and banging my head against the wall when my shiny new uber-smartphone is not supported by Digital Editions. I now had two choices, wait to finish the book or head over to the Kindle store. Eight bucks later I am continuing my read and I have lost all hope of libraries ever getting the shit together in regards to e-books.

Monday Left-overs

This is a post of mine from the library tech blog, MCLC TechTalk on My Thoughts on the New iPad. Short summary, it is a really neat device but it does little that is new or different from what iPads already do. I always felt the iPad was a great device but a poor computer. For many that is a moot point as they want a device for media consumption, web surfing and playing games. For me I just never cared for the need to tether it to iTunes.

Buying a Tablet

I wanted to share a post I wrote for the MCLC TechTalk blog on purchasing my Toshiba Thrive Tablet. Since getting an iPad I have been using a tablet to write on and found it more convenient and comfortable than my lap top. I knew I wanted one for myself but the price of the iPads kept them out of my reach. You can imagine how happy I was to find an Android tablet with similar if not better specs at a much lower price point. To top it off Android has a pretty usable text editor that is perfect for writing on the go. But I’ve said to much read the rest in the post.

Buying My Tablet — MCLC TechTalk