The Pros and Cons of the Digital Library by Sarah Terry
It’s 2013 people! It’s the New Year, and there are now six different types of Kindles, three types of iPads and four kinds of Nooks. We’re in the middle of the eReader renaissance, so it’s time to grab your digital volumes and get in the game. These days, even the libraries are upgrading their technology and making eBooks available to borrow through Overdrive, the digital library app. Below are a few pros and cons of these new digital borrowing systems.
Pro – Free Books for Your Kindle!
If you’re like me, you’re pretty irritated by the limited trading ability of Kindle and other online books. When I buy a book from the bookstore, I can read it and then pass it along to my mom, friend or random literary soul mate that I encounter on the bus. Physical books can be passed around to make their price tag worthwhile, but a digital book is severely limited. Unless I let that random literary soul mate borrow my Kindle or iPad along with my new favorite historical novel (probably a bad decision), I can’t share my recent purchase. Doesn’t that make the free lending of a library even more attractive? I can’t let my mom borrow the book afterward, but I also don’t have to pay for it. With more and more books available, it seems like a pretty good compromise.
Con – There Aren’t Enough Copies
Well, this is actually somewhere between the fact that there aren’t enough copies and the fact that people are probably more likely to use the library’s digital catalog than visit their brick and mortar establishments these days. The point is, for popular titles, wait lists can climb to the hundreds. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey has 550 people on the waiting list at my library. Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks’ latest, has 89 people on the waitlist. So if you want a mainstream title, there will probably be a wait. But if you can wait awhile for your book, the library will let you know as soon as the book is made available, and your book budget will thank you.
Pro – No Late Fees
Remember those days in the distant past when you had to remember the day that your books were due and drive them to the book drop for fear of garnering a $0.10 fee. Well fear no more! With the new digital books, they magically disappear from your reading device when your time is up, no muss, no fuss, and most importantly, no fines!
Con – No Renewals
On a related note, however, either because the selection is limited or because they haven’t figured out the system yet, you can’t renew the books you’ve checked out. At least at the libraries I’ve used. The physical library won’t let you renew books that have waitlists, and since most online titles have a waitlist, I suppose it makes sense. It also means that procrastinators like myself actually need to get started on the book immediately, rather than wait until two days before the deadline and power through to avoid fees. That’s the other thing – with the automatic reclamation by the online robot librarians, you can’t cheat the system and keep the book a couple of extra days, fine or no fine. Sometimes you can justify that whopping $0.30 if it means finishing the complete Game of Thrones series that you checked out, but with digital lending, that’s not really possible.
To get with the program and try out this magical new online library, download Overdrive on your Wi-Fi connectable eReader. Then use your library card number to log into the online database and join a waitlist (or find a less popular book to check out). If you have any more pros and cons of digital libraries, or if you have a tidbit to share from your borrowing experiences, add it to the comments below!
Sarah Terry is an aspiring TV writer and screenwriter. Her chocolate chip cookies are world-renowned, she can do 5 boy pushups in a row, and her Basque heritage is the reason she talks so loud. She writes TV pilots, screenplays, and the occasional rambling blog post for her blog, That Ridiculous Fantastic.
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