I Thought Libraries Were Free

Amazon is planning to start a digital book library along the lines of Spotify; i.e., you pay a monthly rate and get to borrow as many books as you want.

That’s cool and all, although I can’t really see how this is good for anyone other than Amazon. I imagine (or at least would hope) that if we weren’t living in a period when governments at every level are attempting to strip away as many duties as possible without completely causing the communities they serve to grind to a halt, public, tax-funded libraries would be doing this for free. I’d much rather be borrowing my ebooks from a public library than from Amazon.

And on the other side of the equation, I imagine that publishers would much rather be selling/renting these books to public libraries than Amazon. I don’t think Amazon is going to pay those sweet $325.99 “institutional prices” that publishers are used to gaming public libraries for. (And yes, I know that’s technically an inefficiency that’s wasting taxpayer dollar the all-knowing market will iron out, but I still think that publishers and public libraries would have a better time reaching some equitable midpoint than will publishers and the Amazon library and that in the long run we’d all be better off.)



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Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian

Actually, public libraries are increasingly able to offer free ebooks, so be sure to check your local library.

And that’s actually a misperception about the cost to libraries of books/ebooks. Many ebooks cost libraries in the range of $5-$25. A real bargain for taxpayers, a public good for all. Happy reading!

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