Saturday, May 14, 2005

Blaming Apple and the Library E-book/Audiobook vendors

Somebody is killing the next killer app for libraries. And librariains are shooting themselves in the foot by not forcing library e-content vendors to acknowldge their products' shortcomings.

Forget e-books. Downloadable audiobooks are the format that library patrons want. As a libararian I am willing to pay well for content that cannot be stolen, doesn't need shelf space, and doesn't need to be weeded. But for some reason this advance in virtual library content is unavailable to most library users in the formats they want to use.

I don't know who I should blame. I am disappointed that Apple doesn't see the public good that comes from digital rights management strategies that allow documents to expire. I am just as disappointed by Overdrive and NetLibrary, vendors that don't even acknowledge the I-pod user market! As a Macintosh owner since 1986 I've learned to live with fewer choices on my desktop, but I-pods aren't 3% of the mp3 player market.

The Audiobook vendors blame Apple. Apple won't comment, but I suspect that since Apple has nearly 22 million I-Tunes subscribers paying $0.99/song , the company doesn't care about the library market.

But the audiobook vendors also ignore the fact that 3 out of every 4 mp3-type players is an Apple I-pod. Given what these vendors charge, I wonder if they would be willing to give my library a 75% discount until Apple wakes up?


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