Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Reasonable Proposal

With the world going virtual and brick & mortar businesses struggling to compete, I ask you this: when will public libraries go virtual? After driving down to the Kirkland library yesterday to pick up a book I had on hold, only to find it fenced off and closed for, well, I don't know why, probably remodeling of some sort, I got to thinking how much more convenient it would be to just download the book from the web site than the traditional method. Libraries could then have much larger catalogues in a much smaller space making them more utilitarian while reducing overhead. I'm not particularly thrilled at the prospect of carrying my laptop with me on the bus, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. And I would never buy one of those stupid Kindles, but they do seem to be proliferating anyway, making an e-library even more viable.

And I know that the primary argument against this is that publishers and retailers would no longer be able to make money selling books if you could just download them for free, however movie studios have shown that money can be made renting downloadable media. I'm not sure how they do it, but itunes and Amazon.com are able to put some code in downloadable movies which only allows you to view it for a limited time, and I don't see why they couldn't do the same with books. And since there would be nothing to return, there would be no late fees, and no waiting for someone else to return the book before you can check it out. I really don't see a down side to this. Now if only I knew a librarian, someone working on the inside who could get this implemented and then take credit for the whole thing and be lauded for his brilliant and innovative thinking, subsequently being promoted and given a raise.......
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