I was just about ready to go off about the lack of fulfillment on a ‘promise’ we had earlier this year from Amazon (via Mashable) that they would partner with local libraries to institute a lending program for eBooks. Then, I happened on this TechCrunch article.
It was something I had been looking forward to because buying eBooks can get expensive and frustrating. Plus, my mother had always told me that the library would probably prove the best reading resource I would ever need anyway.
As an avid reader, owning the books (preferably hardcover versions) was a big thrill for me. I liked to take them down and hold them every so often, open to a random page, reminisce over the storyline, sniff the pages (if you store them right, they keep their smell for years). My bookshelf was alarmingly overburdened with books once I could afford to start a collection.
A move to another country effectively culled that collection severely and marrying into the military made rebuilding it an almost impossible feat for many reasons – not the least of which would be the heartache I would have to go through every time we moved.
This last move from Texas to Washington schooled me definitively that professional movers and packers – while extremely convenient – aren’t very good for your prized possessions. We lost quite a bit of stuff in this move, not the least of which was books. Sacrilege, I know.
For many reasons, moving to eBooks made sense for me. Of course, my move to eBooks was more motivated by my love of geek toys than my need to keep my books with me safe when I moved – but we won’t get into that here. I haven’t really regretted the move to eBooks, except that it’s now way too easy to buy books and forget that I have them. Result? eBooks are piling up on my Kindle waiting to be read.
Buying eBooks the way I have been known to do is not only expensive, but difficult if you find yourself with buyer’s remorse. With a physical book, it’s easy to “return and exchange” it for something else.With eBooks, you are stuck with your copy.
Appealing to Amazon.com support MIGHT reward you with a refund (I’ve never tried it, but I don’t doubt that they would be helpful if you didn’t abuse it), but it’s not a route I would recommend. Especially since they offer free book samples for this very reason.
Library eBooks, then, become the perfect way to try out a new author or that new novel by your favorite author and give you the option to say “ugh – that was bad” and just return it to the library “shelf”. All it takes is a library card (which you should have anyway) from your local library; assuming your local library is participating in the program.
I dare say that eBook lending via your local library might make libraries “cool” again – if even only the virtual libraries. And I’m on my way to go get me a library card – what about you?