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Deborah Wiesehan writes:
Microsoft recently released their new Pocket PC, a handheld device
which combines the functions of a PC in a handheld device with handheld
reader functions. Their journey into the digital book world signifies
something important for the digital book industry. I think all would
agree that Microsoft doesn\'t venture into anything that they don\'t think
will be profitable.
Earlier this year, the Patchogue-Medford Library in Patchogue New
York started circulating Nuvomedia Rocket eBook readers. Although we do
not believe that our venture into the electronic book world holds the
same significance, generally, as Microsoft\'s does, we still learned some
interesting things on the journey.
The Nuvomedia Rocket eBook reader is a handheld device which allows
the user the ability to carry around up to 10 books at one time, all on
this one device. The numbers have been positive, and we have been
pleased with the progress that our pilot project has made. However, we
couldn\'t have made that progress without traveling down the railway of
innovation ourselves. So being a library, and fond of the idea of
sharing information, we thought we would share the three most important
things we have learned on the trip thus far.
The first thing we have learned is that purchase orders aren\'t
welcome at the virtual table; the library would a need a credit card.
Barnes and Noble.com is the primary retailer for content and the one we
felt most comfortable using. Barnes and Noble will accept a purchase
order for reader orders, but they will not accept purchase orders for
content purchase. So that means out traditional way of paying for books
wasn\'t going to work, and we would have to adapt ourselves to what was
already in place.
The second thing we learned was that electronic books were a lot of
fun. They had all of these really neat options like highlighting,
looking up words in the dictionary, (by just tapping on the word), and
making notes in the text. That led us to ask the question, \"Are we
going to get these back if we lend them out?\" To assuage our fears, we
created an acceptable use policy and waiver which we require patrons to
sign which states that they understand that this a new project, and that
this is new equipment and that there will be repercussions if it doesn\'t
come back reasonably close to how we lent it out.
The third and perhaps most important thing that we learned through
the journey is that the Cadet Maxim applies. \"Risk more than others
think is safe/ Care more than others think is wise/ Dream more than
others others think is practical/ Expect more than others think is
possible.\" For any library to undertake this project, it involves a
calculated risk- one that is going to require an initial effort which at
times may seem overwhelming. However the eBooks do circulate, and the
project has far surpassed our expectations.
Digital books, as they are right now, are not the end of the road.
Gemstar, the owners of Nuvomedia and Softbook are proposing the release
of better models by the end of this year. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson
once said, \"Life is a progress and not a station.\" We\'re just glad that
we bought a ticket.