As I've been following the comments (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and pondering all of this. I am starting to think that when it comes to lending popular fiction as ebooks, Libraries are fighting an un-winnable battle.
There are a few quite diverse reasons leading me in this direction:
- Economic: higher costs to Libraries with no ownership as compared with same title in print is a tough sell with tight budgets
- Economic: ereaders themselves are still not ubiquitous in the general population. I imagine those that have them were prepared to acquire content independent of Libraries.
- Functional: using an ereader while soaking in the tub can be problematic
- Behavioural: people do not generally feel the need to keep the popular fiction they might purchase - used book stores are a testament to this.
This means that for both the publisher and the reader-consumer, the ebook licensing model, if priced right, makes sense. It means that from the publisher perspective, Libraries just may not be part of the fiction ebook landscape.
I'm no Luddite, but I am, I guess, a skeptic of high tech. I am much enamoured of how it makes many things easier, including the simple act of recording one's words. But the idea of lining up for hours or even over night in order to get the next new device strikes me as, well, ludicrous. It reminds me of distracting a toddler with shiny keys while you continue putting groceries in the cart.
The term satisficing was coined in 1956 by Herbert Simon, a polisci/econ/psych/sociologist. It is about figuring out what is adequate verses optimal. It is about understanding constraints, variables, relationships and desired outcomes. I think it is a useful concept for Libraries and all of us in Libraryland to keep in mind as the ebook landscape is continually re-formed.