How Amazon has disrupted the book industry

Just over ten years ago, in November 2007, Amazon unleashed the Kindle. It has disrupted the book industry––publishers, authors, and readers––more than anything since the paperback. On Amazon’s own site, anyway, sales of ebooks surpassed print books in April 2011, less than four years after the Kindle’s debut. Five years ago, some people were wondering if printed books could survive the onslaught of ebooks. Since then, demand for printed books has been rising. Ebooks won’t go away, but neither will print. The Kindle Store now has close to 6 million ebook titles and accounts for more than 80% of all … Continue reading

Major disruptions in the book publishing business

Ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle roiled the book publishing business. Big time. Ebooks now outsell printed books. We can carry one device with dozens of books, and it weighs less than any one of them would in print. Major bookstore chains went belly up. But ebooks are hardly the first major disruption in book publishing. The printing press only came along about 700 years ago. It eventually put an end to the scriptoriums that had produced manuscript books for centuries. Printing put books in the hands of more readers than the scriptoriums ever could, but books remained relatively expensive well … Continue reading

Libraries, ebooks, and the freedom to read

Libraries have long championed its patrons’ right to privacy. The American Library Association first adopted a document known as the Library Bill of Rights in 1939. Basically, it states that whatever anyone chooses to read is no one else’s business, and there is no good reason for the government or any other entity to interfere. Much more recently, librarians eagerly pursued means of lending ebooks to their patrons, only to find unexpected incompatibilities between doing so and freedom to read. Libraries and privacy Every once in a while, some spectacular criminal act will have people suggesting that maybe the police … Continue reading

Digitizing old books

Not everything is available for free on the Internet. Once upon a time, the list of material not available for free on the Internet included almost every book ever published. The problem was that unless a book or other printed format was either currently in print or available in multiple libraries, it wasn’t conveniently available to much of anyone at all. Now, many libraries and archives are digitizing their collections. Not only old books, but old pamphlets, sheet music, maps, manuscripts, etc. have become more accessible than ever before. … Continue reading

Ebooks and libraries

How can a library add ebooks, something with no physical existence, to its collection? And why would it? I can answer the first question easily. Libraries, like everyone else, have to pay for ebooks. An ebook goes through the same process as any other library material. Someone decides to acquire it. The acquisitions department orders it from the publisher and pays for it. The cataloging department describes it and puts the description in the catalog. Once it’s in the catalog, the reference department can call patrons’ attention to it and the circulation department can check it out. Of course, no … Continue reading