I resisted getting an e-book. The idea of not holding an actual book in my hand seemed a little blasphemous. Alright it sounds melodramatic, but I grew up with books including lugging their weight around going to and from a library.
Then I got my Kobo.
After doing a little homework, even considering buying an ipad, I settled on the Kobo for its ease and one hundred classics preloaded on the device. I downloaded a few books from the library, but I still return to the classics. I read Pride and Prejudice on commutes and enjoyed it more than as an undergrad student in university. I guess attending a few wedding and witnessing a few more divorces makes me pay attention to what Austen wrote about relationships. I currently have Sense and Sensibility on the Kobo after watching both the 1995 move and the 2008 miniseries. It’s good to know I have a hundred books in one place and can head to Project Gutenberg for a few more. It cut down the lugging I do from the library, except I haul a few more DVDs in its place. (A wee bit lighter and limited to only 10 titles by my local library.)
I like my Kobo, but I would never say ‘the book is dead’. I do want the feel of a book from time to time in my hands. In truth, not every book is available electronically and sometimes publishers make it difficult to get a hold of them from the library. Whether it’s a book or an e-book, these things cost money and libraries are places for people with not a whole lot of money to get a new book to read. Hearing about Harper Collins or Penguin limiting library access to their titles makes me more than a little mad. It makes me entertain the notion of gathering all their titles and putting them in a cage for ransom. The demand? Loosening the constraints on libraries for idiot things like e-books getting only 26 downloads. (I am looking at you Harper Collins.)
In an ideal world I would like to not replace my Kobo every two years. Why? It’s expensive and I tire of chasing after the latest, shiniest, brightest gadget to keep myself up to date. I would like to read e-books without worrying if the format will download into my Kobo. (This time I cast my hairy eyeball toward Amazon.) All people want to do is read not worry about if item A will download to platform B.
Need a place to start reading about digital rights and libraries? I suggest heading over to a blog called Librarian in Black written by Sarah Houghton, Assistant Director of the San Rafael Library. Two notable entries to read are:
The eBook User’s Bill of Rights (February 28, 2011)
Lessons from 2007 on Digital Rights Management (March 9, 2011)
Her blog is still worth reading overall and I still keep on my Google reader. Be patient for new entries as Ms. Houghton is one busy woman. (One I would love to hear in a keynote speech if she ever came to Winnipeg.)
Back to the ‘classics’ part of this entry. I did try downloading a title from Google books and it lead to an interesting discovery. I watched North and South and decided to read Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. The library copies were not only taken out, they actually had requests. I wanted to read the book and I wanted to read it NOW. I managed to find North and South on Google books, a scan dated from the 19th century, and made do with the PDF. (Let me tell you it proved cumbersome to adjust the size.) Turns out whomever scanned it, missed about 3-5 pages. I went to Project Gutenberg and downloaded a copy and had the pages filling in crucial pieces of the plot. It’s a good rule of thumb for e-books, or EBSCOhost articles, to check if the scanning is accurate.