E-Books iPad

E-books in other professions

I’m a knitter, as most of you probably know, and I subscribe to more than a couple of knitting related newsletters and lists. One of those newsletters just announced that they will be making some knitting books available for e-readers through Zinio’s interface. I just checked and one of the books they were pushing, New England Knits, is available through Zinio but is both out of print (in the paperback format, at least) and not available in the Kindle format at Amazon at all.
This book, at least, is compatible with iPad or computer (PC or Mac) only – not with the Nook or the Sony E-Reader or the Kindle. This (as a side note) is one of the reasons I threw over my Kindle for an iPad – the ability to read books in any format they come in is pretty nice!
It does, however, speak to the fragmenting of the market and the way the announcements are made. The newsletter was all about the new e-readers that folks may have gotten for Christmas, but the two books they pushed (New England Knits and Crochet So Fine) are neither one compatible with any e-reader device but the iPad (and the Crochet book isn’t even compatible with that – just PCs and Macs). This has more than likely created an expectation in their customers that won’t be easily filled – they want books and patterns that are usable on *their* e-readers, whatever they might be, and the newsletter is focusing on books that aren’t going to be usable on most e-readers that were gifted this year.
This is something to consider when pushing our services with e-books in libraries. We have already seen patrons who received off-brand MP3 players complaining that they can’t use our service because their device isn’t compatible with Overdrive. We try to be clear and publicize the lists of compatible devices, but there is only so much we can do.
I’m pointing this out not to criticize how other professions handle the emergence of e-readers for their customers, but to show that we all have the same challenges with these devices and, maybe, to suggest that we should be looking at what knitters and engineers and teachers and lawyers are doing about the fragmented state of the market now. They may have some good ideas. They may do some things we can point to as “learning moments” and try not to do. We’re all moving ahead on this stuff together, so getting some ideas from how others are handling the issues can only be a good thing!

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