Monday, May 7, 2012

Library Books

On Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, or, more importantly, Francis' birthday—he's a teenager, one of three in their house, I got to celebrate the birthday in Highland Park. Of the many things we did (including seeing the most popular weekend movie of all time), one was a small discussion on digital books. Lisa mentioned that she wished you could lend digital books to a friend the same as tree based books. Unfortunately, the conversation drifter to other things. So much to cover with so little time.

There are interesting digital rights issues here. You could imagine one copy of the next great American novel™ being sold once and everyone having a copy—something music and film publishers believe is practically happening now. Although, they still set week-end sales records.

Law is pretty much making common behavior consistent and, with books, we have a long tradition of sharing a book after we have read it. Even beyond this, we have institutionalized this process through public libraries. They buy one copy of the book and then continually lend it out. Some others have been thinking like Lisa. They are starting a movement to create a digital library. This has just begun so there barely is an organization yet, but the possibilities are interesting.

How would such a library work? Do libraries have digital collections now? Should they keep the same model where only one person could have access to a digital book at a time?
Publisher Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media played the print industry’s white knight at the DPLA’s [Digital Public Library of America] conference, explaining to the audience how his company adapted to the prevalence of on-demand information. "We’ve insisted from the beginning that our books be DRM {Digital Rights Management] free," He insisted to applause.
How could DRM free digital books work, especially in a library?

Practically all the problems in this world could be solved, if we (scientists? psychologists?) could figure out how Lisa thinks. Of all the complaints I've heard people make about digital books, or anything for that matter, I'm not sure I've ever heard one that focuses on, not one's self, but on helping someone else.

No comments: