Articles

Reaction to Seth Godin on ebooks & libraries

In Eresources on May 26, 2011 by Danielle

I’ve decide, based on his recent post discussing the future of libraries, that I like Seth. I used to think of him as a general guru. I realise now that he is a marketer. I like what he says, I realise it has been said before but I quite like how he says it. He’s engaging.

I am not sure ‘librarians’ are going to pay attention because (a) he is coming from outside of the library/information profession and (b) he is kindly but openly critical of what libraries are and how they are not doing enough to keep up with the likes of Netflix, in my opinion. I see that Phil is critical also- I suppose I agree the phrase ‘dead books’ isn’t that endearing is it?

Yes the image of the librarian as teacher wins out in the end. I think this is the role of every public or school librarian, but it all makes me roll my eyes a bit and feel a bit invisible as a health lib/evidologist. Are we teachers? Do we pace the corridors of our our appointed offices or hospitals and help our staff and directors do their ‘homework’? I’m not sure we do, even in a metaphorical sense.

Seth’s pie in the sky stuff about ebooks is hilarious because:

(a) I do enough screen reading thanks,
and,
(b) I like the razor blade comparison:

…we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.

BUT will libraries ever have the budget/inclination to buy and replace ebook readers regularly (because they WILL get broken and trashed- from regular use even – I am not saying foul play but that is also inevitable), keep them up to date, and go to war against publishers who may agree to libraries buying a copy of an ebook and lending it 26 times, but then turning it into a brick. What happens with the publishers’ terms and conditions change so that libraries can only lend 20 times? 15? 10? This must be accounted for in their budget.

A side of me thinks: Why don’t we just wait for epaper? At the current recession-strangled rate of adoption of new technology in libraries we may as well wait. Thanks again, banking crisis/ shoddy lending and mortgage policies!

And speaking of recession, Seth doesn’t mention how to keep all the tramps out of the library because the recession has created more tramps and if anything fewer internet terminals. (wry grin)

So I really don’t mind Seth one bit, he has some sense. And he has an interesting writing style- most librarians could learn from that at the very least!*

*Except the excellent readers of tHI, of course.

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