Thursday, June 11, 2009

Library Purchase/Subscription For Kindle Content?


As Some May Know, Amazon Recently Made Available An iPhone App For Access To Kindle Content:

"Kindle For iPhone App Released"


In speaking with John Cox, Acting Librarian, National University of Ireland, Galweay, at dinner the evening before my presentation on June 5 2009 at the NLI-Galway Library


about their library's sizable e-Book collection (400,000+)


it occurred to me that a library purchase / [subscription ?] of (select) Kindle Content could revolutionalize the entire textbook and e-text environment at colleges and universities (as well as within other institutions/organizations) with the use of the iPhone App for Kindle Content [Kindle Access w/o The Kindle] as well as access via The Kindle Device Itself.

I Would Most Appreciate Your Reactions / Thoughts To The Possibilities By Commenting On The Matter At This Blog Entry

BTW: To My Knowledge, Institutional Purchase / Subscription Is Not Currently Available [?]

Thanks A Million !



  1. I guess the first thing that comes to mind with this and all e-content is Inter Library Loan. If everyone moves to digital content, what happens to the ILL system? Will owning libraries be allowed to temporarily grant access to other institutions? Or will the have-not libraries simply continue to go without?

  2. It's a nice development, but it still leaves out all users who do not own a Kindle or have the Kindle app on an iPhone or iPod. What we really need is one format which is compatible with all ebook viewers.

  3. I have a kindle and love it for novels and other text only documents. But, technical books fail on it due to image problems. Even histories are hard because the maps, etc. are hard to read. There needs to be definite improvement in images before this will fly for STM collections.

  4. This is a very interesting question. If Amazon made the Kindles available for free, or at a steeply discounted rate to libraries, this might make the entire venture more viable. Right now I go to my library, check out five books and perhaps read one or two cover-to-cover. Under the current Kindle model I would be expected to purchase the five books. This model will work for me only if I can check out the Kindle from the library as well as acquire rights to download the books at very low cost.

    Please give my regards to John. Many years ago I taught at the School of Library and Information Science at Queens University in Belfast. I know John from the publishing world.

    Best wishes,

    Norman Frankel

  5. I don't have a crystal ball, but am enjoying tracking where it may lead. For the time being, given the reasonable price for content, we're going to make a few Kindles available for patrons to borrow and allow them to select content on demand. This will really be an adjunct to our popular reading collection in an academic setting.

  6. I would love to see Kindle used for textbooks, but having tried out the KIndle on iPhone application, I can tell you for regular books it's a stretch, I can't imagine trying to use it to study.

  7. Posted with permission from Peter Timusk

    As a student from the early 1970's to now I really do not like the library holdings of ebooks other than pdf's. My library at the
    University of Ottawa has some books we view only on screen and we can not print them or can only print them one page at a time. Now journals are better these days but these ebooks are worse at school than they are buying them privately as ebooks. A page at a time? You can check with some scholars and librarians who will also assert that being able to flip between pages with fingers as book marks is essential part of understanding a text.

    You can only access one page at a time and to get to such and such a page is much more than 1 click.

    More on ebooks. I published a book and the published released it on google books with out even asking me the editor.

    The Internet may roll on and Like Jacques Ellul wrote in the 1950's in The technological Society technology rolls over everything like culture religion etc. because a better way of doing things is simply accepted on technical grounds.


    The Technological Society. Trans. John Wilkinson. New York: Knopf, 1964. London: Jonathan Cape, 1965. Rev. ed.: New York: Knopf / Vintage, 1967. with introduction by Robert K. Merton (professor of sociology, Columbia University).

  8. Leah, people will know soon enough if textbooks by Kindle will be accepted by students. See:

  9. The folks are already onto the textbook thread and have been working with publishers of textbooks on digital rights.
    Melissa V. Rentchler
    California, USA

  10. Not much use as the Kindle, and the Kindle app for the Iphone are not available outside the US!

  11. I am a bit puzzled by the excitement over the Kindle app on iPhone? There are plenty of other very good readers for the iPhone that work well - Stanza, eReader etc. Also the Kindle and it's app is only available in the US.

    However I do have my doubts about the current ease of using an iPhone for reading a lot of text. Having read a novel recently on my iPhone I must say that actually holding a book is much easier and you don't have to worry about charging a book up every evening.

    I think if I was a student using a textbook I would want something on a laptop - i.e. ebook within a platform that allows note-taking etc. And of course students love to be able to copy and paste into their essays - kindles and iphones won't allow that!

    I do think, though, that the 'lending' of e-books needs to be explored for mobile devices. I attended IATUL recently where I listened to a talk from Carole Thompson (Texas A&M University, Doha, Qatar). They actually have e-book reader devices loaded with content that can be loaned out to library users - a risky but quite good solution until the industry catches up.

  12. As opposed to "pushing" this technology to members of the public, why not let them "pull" it by doing a poll of users of the library to see who might be interested in using the technology. My thinking also aligns with others who have expressed concerns about digital divide issues. If you are going to choose this course of action, be sure to not only think about what knowledge and resources are representative of your reality of life and those of peers but others in the world who are not as priveleged.

  13. The writing's on the [digital] wall for the whole textbook industry & I'm sure at least some of them can see it. The current textbook system is a money-making terrible waste of paper, especially for the sciences in which a little bit of information changes often. Truly, digital presentation of information is the only thing that makes sense. So much of the cost of knowledge is not in the creation of the information itself, but in the _access_ to the information.

    And to say that a digital presentation is a poor solution because 'you don't get to feel the paper' or 'you can only turn one page at a time' or 'you can't display maps nicely' is a short-sighted criticism. It's like saying that electric lightbulbs are a poor way to light your room because how do you trim the wick? The older ones among us (especially) are so conditioned to seeing information displayed in 8.5x11"/A4 format. Who would have thought that a google map could be more useful than the curiously-folded, tattered paper edition? But it usually is.

    So maybe the iPhone won't be the killer app for textbooks. But information which is critical to the development & well-being of people (and a lot of educational textbooks fall into that category) should be available digitally at a price that those who need it can afford.

  14. I'm aware some of the eBook vendors that predominantly sell to institutions are already supporting access via iPhone and other mobile technologies. My institution purchases eBooks from ebrary that I regularly view on my iPhone.

    Text book content is growing, the JISC are currently running a trial to investigate business models for making e-textbooks available, free at the point of use, through the university library.

    I believe it will be solving the problem of publishers cannibalising their print sales that will "revolutionalize the entire textbook and e-text environment at colleges and universities", not necessarily the device they are viewed upon?

  15. I've been reading ebooks on various devices for some 15 years now (beginning with the Apple Newton), and ergonomically it has become second nature for me (no different than paper books). I regularly "check out" books for my Sony Reader from the Boston Public Library, and the concept works reasonably well. I also love the Kindle app for my iPhone, for a number of reasons (huge bookstore, the sending of samples, etc). For my research I regularly access scholarly ebooks from a university library (using Ebrary, etc), and the convenience of being able to get and use the books instantly from home is terrific.

    There are pros and cons with all of these methods of accessing books, but we still have a number of issues to work out for text- and scholarly books, most importantly the browsing and search functionality. The current crop of ereaders, whether dedicated (kindle) or software (for computers), are virtually useless in addressing these two key ergonomic issues. The only textbook app which comes close to providing a true digital "textbook" experience is the Zinio software, which I really like, but which also has issues because of its significant rights management overhead.

    So I still think we are very much in the "horse & buggy" era of ebooks, in spite of the some 15 years of development and progress in the area.

  16. i would like amazon and the e-reader design/mfr world to take a 2-pronged approach. 1. include a library component in the freaking business model. i'm not talking at this point about libraries mounting the books online for all patrons to grab simultaneously and willy-nilly. just a digital copy that can be used by one user at a time. just like a printed book. except patrons can borrow, if available, at 3 a.m. when the library's closed and they can't sleep. and 2. work on the tech. images need to be legible and interpretable, minimum. this should be do-able via the right combination of image-pivot and scaling. perhaps there will need to be larger, specialized readers mainly only *affordable* by libraries for such things as atlases and larger art books; but this won't likely come up in a serious way before color e-ink becomes viable.

    if amazon and other e-reader manufacturers are serious about promoting adoption, they need to include libraries in their models, so people can live with the tech for a bit and get to know it. i fear that right now, publishers are still reluctant to commit.

    i will be very interested to see where this goes. the drm-thing is a *huge* problem, which needs to be solved. e-books absolutely should not be reader-dependent. even given this big annoyance, i love my kindle for long periods of reading; and i love my ipod touch for continuing to read the same book during my break at work. the e-reader has real potential to be the 'killer app' for textbooks, but it only will be if the industry is built with the goal of providing a quality user experience; with the understanding that 'reading' and 'having books' may grow to be separate activities; and that in some areas it may be appropriate, and even preferable, not to have a physical book.

  17. I've used the Kindle app for my iPod Touch (uses same apps as iPhone) for some time now. It goes to and grabs your content, and has you choose a few to make "live" on your device. I like it - good display, not as easy on the eyes as the e-ink tech on the Kindle, but fine for a lunchtime or waiting room read.

    There are some issues with Kindle content for libraries - mostly, they just don't have what we want in the way of content, though that's changing. U of NE-Omaha did something rather clever and decided that, though they couldn't really use it effectively for ILL (their original thought), they'd use it for a popular materials collection, to save on shelf space. They check out like wildfire, as I understand.

    I saw a presentation on it by Joyce Neujahr, Director of Patron Services at UNE-Omaha, at the Library Technology Conference in St. Paul in March.

    There were some issues with subscriptions, disabling buying features, etc. You can have up to 5 or 6 (?) Kindles attached to the same credit card / account and share across them. I think it would take some massaging to make it work in a less-controlled environment, like a public library setting. For academic/ special / school libraries, it has some possibilities.

    My 2 cents. That said, I adore my personal Kindle and the access to it on the Touch.

    Louise E. Alcorn
    Reference Technology Librarian
    West Des Moines Public Library
    4000 Mills Civic Pkwy
    West Des Moines IA 50265
    (515) 222-3573

    July 1, 2009 4:05 PM


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.