Back to the World of E-Books and E-Readers
This past year has been a frustrating one for me as an e-book selector and an e-reader trainer. I found that I had to take some time to step back and just calm down. Ranting about the various publishers and their practices did nothing to remedy the situation. This is still true, even as we face another holiday season where our patrons will demand more e-books and need help with new e-readers.
Thinking I’d be ahead of the game this year, I researched and prepared what I thought would be a popular talk on Selecting The Best E-Reader for Your Reading Needs. I prepared endless tables on handouts comparing the latest and greatest offerings from Nook, Kindle, Apple, Samsung, Nexus and several other brands. I was shocked when only eight people signed up to attend the program this past week. I downsized the presentation room and scheduled it for our computer lab, knowing it would comfortably fit a dozen patrons. Then I got another surprise – not only did the eight registered attendees show up, but another eight folks just walked in, ready to participate. I ended up hauling more chairs into the area, but I was delighted that I had a fairly full house.
I took a survey of my attendees and found that only two of them wanted to purchase what I’d call a traditional dedicated e-reader using the e-ink technology. The rest were pretty much sold on one of the various Kindle Fires or a tablet. By far, the iPad Mini was the most popular device of the night. While we all admired the traditional iPad for its retina display, most users were put off by the relative bulk and heft of the device when used as an e-reader. The iPad Mini was judged to be just the right size for holding as a reading device and it weighed less than several of the other tablets. Despite the price difference, it appeared that our patrons were willing to pay quite a bit more just to get the iPad Mini experience.
I have a follow-up program scheduled for the first week in January called Help! I Have a New E-Reader and I Don’t Know How to Use It. It will be interesting to see how many of my folks actually received or purchased an e-reader for Christmas and if they got the one they chose from my program. In addition, I’m holding a small classes for hands-on instruction on downloading to Kindles and Nooks. Hopefully our new device owners will take advantage of these free training opportunities so they can enjoy this new technology.
So while I get discouraged by the lack of progress with publishers, formats and DRM, it’s the new users at our Library that bring me back to reality and keep me excited by this new digital world of e-books.