Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Fate of the e-book

As a college student (and an English major), I spend a lot of my time in the library. The library is a beautiful place full of information that has the distinct scent of knowledge. The books that line the shelves connect students with history, politics, art, famous authors, culture, and tradition. The tradition of checking out books from the library is one that is often taken for granted. Where do these books come from? Does the library purchase all of these books, periodicals, films, and other items? Finally, how many lives do library books have (or rather, how many times can a library book be checked out before it is laid to rest)?

In the world of constant connectivity (and e-books), these are questions that publishing company HarperCollins recently had (though for online e-libraries), so they have decided that beginning March 7, e-books will only be allowed to be checked out 26 times. This is for financial reasons, as it isn't fair to the author of the publisher to have As explained in a recent New York Times article,
"The announcement was a reminder of the publishers’ squeamishness over having their e-books available in libraries. More people are using libraries for e-reading, a practice that does not require visiting a library in person, and is possible on many electronic devices, including the Nook and the iPad."
With the world of technology, it's sad to think that the tradition of checking out books from the library may be lost. It's comforting to know, however, that somewhere out there, there are publishing companies like HarperCollins that have decided to put a limit on how much their beloved books are viewed. E-books offer the potential for convenient reading. However, when it comes to publishing and money, it seems that some things will never change-whether in actual reality or virtual reality.

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