Alex Beam, a Boston Globe columnist, has a suggestion for libraries. His modest proposal is that larger libraries that can afford them should buy some e-book readers so patrons can see what all the buzz is about and decide for themselves if they like them. Being a non librarian he doesn’t realize that some of us (do a “find” on “Sony”) are doing this, but this is a good reminder that libraries can serve as trend makers and breakers for our communities, so circulating them is something to seriously consider.
Often we wait until something is already popular with the general public before adopting a new device or format as we want to be sure we aren’t wasting taxpayer money on an unsustainable format like Beta, but that may mean we aren’t seen as relevant to the experimenters in our areas. Many of us took our time with videos, DVDs, and Blu-ray…
And of course, e-readers still could be a fad or a specialty product not used by the masses. My former director asked me to try one of the older readers several years ago and despite being only about 2.5 x 3 inches, I found it way too heavy to comfortably use it to read in bed (maybe because I lie on my side and hold the book with just one hand…). And there are other reasons why e-books may not succeed, like the fact that you don’t own the books.
Is your library lending Kindles or Readers yet? How do patrons like them?