A recent Forbes article by Panos Mourdoukoutas recently made a lot of people crazy. It was called “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money”. I’d like to link it here, but the article appears to have been deleted fro the site, leading only to an error message now (which was really what we all thought).
But the uproar over it hasn’t stopped. Essentially, the author claimed that libraries weren’t needed because people now use Starbucks, Netflix, and Amazon more. He claimed we don’t need library spaces, and that they are underused. Apparently, the man hasn’t been to a library since he was a child.
As frustrating as the article was, it’s the backlash that has been the most interesting. You can find a great (although long) post from the Nocturnal Librarian here. She makes some great arguments, and has the facts to back it up. Although it’s a little difficult to read through the text, stick with it. It’s interesting.
Amazon recently came up with their list of the Top 20 Best Books of 2016 so far. Seeing as we’re heading into the last quarter of the year, the list will probably not change much unless there are a few breakout titles.
While many of us have taken those quizzes to find out how many of the “Best Books”, or “Top 10 Books” we’ve read through the years, Amazon has put together an interesting list that you might want to consider. They Amazon editors got together and chose their “Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime“, the books they feel will help to ensure a well-read life. If you regularly devour best-sellers or everything ever written about hockey, you might be missing the bigger picture, so to speak. Amazon thinks these books will round out your reading life.
Some of the titles they’ve chosen?
From Stephen Hawking to Stephen King, this list covers just about everything. There are children’s books, YA, fiction and non-fiction. A lot of the books are classics, but you’ll be surprised at some of the newer choices, I think. They include little headings to briefly describe the book (like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS by Jacqueline Susann, which is labelled as “addictively entertaining”). You can see thefull list here.
How many of the books have you read? And do you agree or disagree with some of their choices?
The Kindle Fire seems to be the only Android-based Kindle product, and therefore, allows library users access to books through the OverDrive app. Apparently, you’ll need some account information (like Amazon info), an Adobe ID , and of course your library card number and PIN to download books. After that, you’re good to go.
So far, all of the other Kindles are not compatible with the Canadian Library version of OverDrive, but that may come at some point. For now, Canadian librarians are rejoicing (or cringing) as we add one more device to our line up of eBook/audiobook readers.
One thing we’ve heard through the last few years is that one drawback with ebooks is their lack of sharing capabilities. Yes, if you purchase a book, often you can share the book among devices. But unlike actual paper books, you can’t bring it into your library once you finish and donate it. So, even though the ebooks cost just as much as the hardcopy versions, you’re pretty much “stuck” with it, and no way to re-sell or donate.
Recently, however, Amazon and Apple have both applied for patents to re-sell ebooks. This has caused a great swell of backlash from a lot of different people, the same way it did when Amazon began selling used books, often at prices as low as a penny. Yes, it’s great for the consumer, but not so great for the authors, who see their work devalued. Plus, the biggest fear concerns digital rights. Who owns the book when it can be shared with anyone? Amazon and Apple have prepared for this problem–only one person can ever have that particular copy of the book at one time. So, if you purchase a book and then sell it to someone else, the book is no longer yours. I guess each book will have a special DRM (digital rights management) code built into it, making it unique.
Authors still will only be paid for the first copy of each book, even though there could be potential for more revenues with re-sale. But in the printed world, an author is paid when someone buys the book from a store, for example, but wouldn’t be paid again if that person sold their copy to a used bookseller, for example.
The question becomes, why would someone pay for a NEW copy at full price, when a used copy at a greatly reduced price might become instantly available? (This is the same question for hard copies of books, really, but these books eventually become too worn for re-sale.) Digital copies remain pristine. It won’t matter if you’re the first person to read it, or the millionth…the copy will look exactly the same on your device. With hard copies, the book’s condition will eventually match the sale price, but with ebooks, it never will. And that’s a BIG problem.
Turns out that Apple and Amazon have thought of this. Their patents might limit the bottom price, depending on the date the original ebook was released. So, if an eBook sells for $10 one day, people re-selling will have to wait six months, for example, before they can sell it for half that price, and even longer to go down to the penny sale. They may also limit the number of times a book can be resold, essentially mimicking the way a hard copy might be resold.
This is just in the early stages, and there will probably be a great deal of change before eBooks are able to be resold. The complications are vast and must be settled with all parties involved–authors, publishers and booksellers.
Recently, a Norwegian woman claimed Amazon wiped every book from her Kindle (remotely) and closed her account without a satisfactory explanation. Amazon has always said they have the right to close user accounts when they feel someone has violated their agreement with the books they’ve purchased. While many of us have faced similar problems with email or social media accounts after someone tried to access these accounts falsely, Amazon claims they looked into this and have associated her account with another one which had previously been blocked. I’m sure if someone looks into this further and decides her account was closed without merit, all of her books could be reloaded to her Kindle. Simple. But it brings up some interesting questions about Amazon and the Kindle and the rights they have over eBooks.
After reading this article on the matter, it becomes clear that purchasing electronic books does not give us ownership over those books, only usership…if that’s a word. We can use the books the way we are supposed to (which means, read them), and hopefully not use them in other ways deemed improper. When you purchase an actual hardcover book, you’re agreeing to the same things, really. You pay the money for the book,which is your agreement to the copyright that you will only read the book and not reproduce the book in any public format (without permission, of course). Does that mean that no one has ever photocopied pages from a book to use in a presentation or assignment? Probably not. But what can booksellers do about that? They can’t come back to a person who bought a book in their store and demand the book back simply because they heard the person read chapters out loud, for example, in public. Once they sell the book, it is up to the person who purchased it to follow the rules.
So how did Amazon KNOW this person violated some part of their agreement? It makes me very uncomfortable to think that they are monitoring users through their Kindles somehow. We hear about this all the time with computers. It’s bad enough to think that someone knows your every move online, but to think that someone is keeping track of your reading is somewhat worse, isn’t it? And while the aspect of Amazon being able to upload books to a new Kindle after one is lost or stolen is marvelous, maybe there really should be better safeguards, such as a password, as was stated in the above article.
It’s possible that there’s much more to the story and why this person’s account was closed and her books revoked. In fact, I’m sure of it. But it sure gets you thinking about how something as simple as reading a book could possibly bring about an invasion of our so-called privacy.