Will Kindle Kill Libraries?

Via Justin Hoenke (@JustinLibrarian)
From a local Portland ME paper: "Will Kindles kill libraries?"
Portland ME Phoenix:

Public libraries have a fraught relationship with the digital book market — so fraught, in fact, that conferences like Book Expo America and the American Library Association Annual are dominated by talk of it. The debate rages on industry blogs, and librarians have launched Internet campaigns against at least one major publisher due to their approach to digital sales.
The latest marauder at the gates is Amazon. In April, the company announced that by the end of the year, Kindle users will be able to borrow books from over 11,000 local libraries through digital-content distributor OverDrive.
This week, OverDrive itself will host its own conference to help libraries deal with a massive onslaught of patrons clamoring to check out books on their Kindles. Can embattled public institutions handle such a drastic change? Does Kindle come to kill the American library, or to save it?

In the world of print, the library is king. Library sales comprise a full 10 percent of total US book sales, and publishers are happy to offer their biggest clients deep discounts to get their titles on the shelves.
Not so for e-books. Libraries get no discount on e-books at all. In fact, individual consumers pay less for e-books than libraries do. What's more, libraries often end up paying more for e-books than they do for their physical counterparts.


Another breathless report on the demise of the library. But let's not start writing the obituary yet. At our public library, physical books still comprise 80% of our robust circulation (the remainder of it is made up of DVDs, CDs and other items people want). Ordering a title via telecom for pickup "later" doesn't allow patrons to browse shelves, grab a title, and take it right home (or to the beach...or on vacation). It also robs patrons of face time with an actual librarian who can recommend titles and help people identify the book they want or need. Ebooks do represent a growing segment of our circulation, but still only comprise about 1% of it. It WILL continue to grow. The business model behind it will continue to evolve. The market will rule in the end. And while our public computers (and free WiFi) are very busy for the out-of-work, they are still used by a relatively small fraction of our daily visitors. People still come in to browse, read the newspapers, use our meeting rooms, visit with friends. Things are certainly changing in the library business, but the change is very gradual...not a sea change at all. Libraries have always evolved as people's information use behaviors have. Still, the core mission of the public library remains the same: Equal access to information (in all of its forms) to all regardless of socioeconomic circumstance. Computers did not kill the library; libraries embraced the technology and adapted it to benefit their patrons. I doubt the "Kindle" will kill them either. BTW: Kindle is not the only ereading device out there. Do you still call all vacuum cleaners "Hoovers?"

I feel e-Books are another wonderful way to provide access to information. Like all new "things", it presents a concern for what came before. Sales of books, magazines and newspapers may drop but they've been around for a very long time and I don't think they'll quickly become extinct. Additionally, while many online services offer "reader's advisory" services, nothing can replace the wide realm of knowledge and assistance a Librarian can offer.

Kindle doesn't seem to kill information centers!. Probably it is an apprehension which any professional faces at the outset. It has been much interesting to read books from Archive.org with the help of Kindle.

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