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ebooks blah blah blah

I’m finding it harder and harder not to tune out on ebook topics. It’s all too broken and I can’t fix it.

“How do I use an ebook,” one of my faculty asked me this week. “I see them listed in the catalog, but then what?”

Turns out he has and loves his Kindle, but library ebooks are impossible. “Well, you see,” I start explaining, “You have to use it on a browser because this particular kind of ebook comes from EBSCO, which doesn’t work with your Kindle, and which doesn’t actually work with YOUR browser because EBSCO uses its own PDF reader that doesn’t work with Firefox on a Mac unless you download this extra plugin that you haven’t downloaded yet because otherwise yes, you’ll have to download single page by single page and open them in Preview. So let’s go find that, and now we have to restart your browser, and shoot… it’s still not working. I wonder why. I’ll look into that for you. For now why don’t we try it in Safari. So yeah, now we know that if you go to Safari, and be sure to log in for off-campus access, and THEN go to the catalog and find your book… shoot… it checked that book out to your other browser that wouldn’t open the book. So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow and then use Safari and log in for off campus access and find the book in the catalog and click the link. Then it should work.”

But this is not actually my definition of “work” unless you mean the kind of work that people pay you to do. But no, this is the kind of “work” that I pay for, and that still isn’t easy or fun, even though he owns an ebook reader he loves.

Published ineBooksRandom Thoughts


  1. It is not just you. A big reason I have not been blogging as much is precisely to avoid topics like e-books and libraries. Like you, I am finding it hard to not just tune out altogether. And that is just one topic. There are days I just want to tune out the whole soap opera our profession can be.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. That’s funny- we talked about EBSCO ebooks today in one of my classes, and my students *loved* that they didn’t need an ebook reader to use them.

  3. @Cathy – Question, though: can’t downloadable library e-books also be viewed on a computer, too? I know that, when I buy e-books, even though I read them on my Nook I could, if I wanted to, read them on my computer, albeit possibly only with downloadable software, like calibre or Adobe Digital Editions. My library only has web-accessible e-books (which I hate so. very. much, except for the encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. where most people just want to read the few pages they need rather than the whole thing or whole chapters), so I’m not really sure what library downloadable e-books are like.

  4. Kelly Kelly

    We have spent a lot of money on our ebook collection and I try to promote them in my classes . . . but due to an explorer issue we have to close a pop up each time we “turn a page.” And our network is extreamly slow. Some of our ebooks are downloadable but I hesitate to even tell students they can do this because of all the issues you mentioned above. Until ebooks are fast and effortless I’m not a fan!

  5. The problem, for me, is that they ARE fast and effortless. An ebook, in my head, is that thing that I can either read on my iPod Touch or on my computer screen, that keeps track of where I am so that no matter which screen I open, I’m always in the right place, and I didn’t have to do anything to get the book from one screen to the next. I don’t even have to have an internet connection as long as I’m all synced up before “off roading.” I love them. I read this kind of ebook all the time. These things that we have in academic libraries, though, these don’t feel like ebooks to me, and they certainly aren’t fast or effortless.

  6. Sometimes I think the terrible options for libraries are ebooks are all part of a vast conspiracy by publishers to do away with library lending altogether. Seriously.
    I was pretty excited about being able to get overdrive library ebooks on my Kindle, but guess what? The library still only has one “copy” so there are still major holds on everything. I end up just buying books anyway because I want to read them now, not 6 months from now. So broken.

  7. Ed Ed

    The first time I tried to use Overdrive and installed the software and created an account I realized I could have bit torrented 100 books in half the time.

  8. […] Librarian’s latest blog post, which sums up some of the common woes associated with ebooks in an academic setting, helps take […]

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