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The Good Morrow: The Future of Sustained, Portable eReading for Pleasure, and Libraries’ Roles in Same. A Talk Given by Tom Peters at the SCRLC “eBooks, eReaders , and Libraries” Online Conference Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Question.

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the good morrow the future of sustained portable ereading for pleasure and libraries roles in same
The Good Morrow:The Future of Sustained, Portable eReading for Pleasure, and Libraries’ Roles in Same

A Talk Given by Tom Peters at theSCRLC “eBooks, eReaders, and Libraries” Online Conference

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

  • How can libraries serve eReaders (people, not devices) who wish to engage in sustained eReading for pleasure?
some of donne s ideas
Some of Donne’s Ideas
  • Falling in love is so life-changing that it becomes difficult to imagine what one did before one loved.
  • A loving couple comprehend a world unto themselves.
  • “Whatever dies was not mixed equally”
ereading a different type of good morrow
eReading: A Different Type of Good Morrow
  • Many readers have not experienced a “Good Morrow-ish” epiphany when confronted with the real prospect of portable eReading for pleasure.
  • Most of us, however, will grow over time to love portable eReading for pleasure, resulting in a lasting sense of a Good Morrow.
a matter of focus
A Matter of Focus
  • eBooks (content, file formats, DRM, etc.)
  • eReaders (devices, screen tech, batteries, etc.)
  • eDistribution (3G, 4G, wi-fi, bluetooth, etc.)
  • eReaders (humans)
  • eReading (a process; human activity)
not so bold prediction
Not-So-Bold Prediction
  • The future of sustained reading for pleasure is primarily portable eReading.
ebooks sales projections
eBooks Sales Projections
  • “A panel of publishing CEOs in June [2010] suggested a consensus view that 40 to 50 percent of book sales five years from now will be ebooks.”Mike Shatzkin’s July 11, 2010 blog post at
any future for sustained reading
Any Future for Sustained Reading?
  • 30-60 mins. for an article; several hours (over several days) for a book
  • Character and thematic development in fiction.
  • Sustained argument with supportive documentation in non-fiction.
  • Carr, Nicholas. 2010. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
what is reading
What Is Reading?
  • Gist of the Wikipedia Definition: A complex process of decoding symbols for the intention of deriving and/or constructing meaning.

  • My Tentative Definition: People interacting with texts, thus constituting a complete, complex, and satisfying sensory, cognitive, and emotional experience.
mmm complete complex satisfying
mmm…Complete, Complex, Satisfying
  • Sensory
  • Cognitive
  • Emotional
reading as sensory intake
Reading as Sensory Intake
  • Visual Reading: printed on paper or digital
  • Auditory Reading: analog or digital, prepackaged, downloadable, or streaming
  • Tactile Reading: braille (printed or digital)*************************************
  • Olfactory Reading: e.g., Olfactory Web

  • Gustatory Reading: Devouring a Good Book
let s not be reading snobs
Let’s Not Be Reading Snobs
  • Snobbish: Visually reading a book printed on paper is the best (or only true) reading experience.
  • Hyper-Snobbish: Visually reading a hardbound printed book that you personally own in an easy chair with a glass of wine is the only true reading.
    • Ergo: Listening to an audio book is slumming.
reasons to read
Reasons to Read
  • School
  • Work
  • Avocational
  • Accidental
let s focus on avocational readers
Let’s Focus on Avocational Readers
  • In any given year, a slight majority of adult Americans claim to have read anything for pleasure (i.e., not related to work or school)
  • 50.2 % of adult Americans (approx. 113 million) engaged in literary reading in 2008.
    • Source: NEA Report, “Reading on the Rise” (January 2009). Available as free PDF file at
let s bracket some stuff
Let’s Bracket Some Stuff
  • eBooks as Searchable Databases:
    • NetLibrary, eBrary, EBL, etc.
    • Focus on books intended to be read “cover to cover” on portable electronic devices primarily for avocational interests.
  • Tactile, Olfactory, and Gustatory Reading
it s a global revolution
It’s a Global Revolution
  • Places like China and Australia probably are farther along this revolutionary path than the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Let’s focus just on the U.S.
u s portable ereading
U.S. Portable eReading
  • U.S. sales of portable eReading devices should more than double in 2010 (5 million units, compared to 2.2 million in 2009).
  • Apps for netbooks, tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, etc.
  • U.S. sales of eBooks doubled in 2009. 2010 eBook sales are very strong so far.
  • Apparently lots of iPad owners are using it for portable eReading.
consider all pp ice devices
Consider All PP ICE Devices
  • PP ICE = Personal, Portable Information, Communication, Entertainment
    • Mobile Phones
    • Dedicated eReading Devices
    • Portable Music/Media Players
    • Netbooks
    • Tablet Devices
    • Portable Gaming Devices
    • Devices for Kids
long tail goes mobile
Long Tail Goes Mobile
  • BookServer (Internet Archive) (approx. 1.6 million titles in ePub and DAISY formats)
  • Sony Reader (over 1 million titles, mainly public domain Google Books)
  • Barnes & Noble Nook(over 1 million titles)
  • Google Editions (600,000 titles)
  • Amazon Kindle editions (over 350,000 titles)
  • OverDrive(over 160,000 ebook titles)
google editions
Google Editions
  • Has not launched yet, as far as I know
  • Any browser, any device
  • Buy anywhere, read anywhere
  • Cooperative agreement with the American Booksellers Association
my two professional fears
My Two Professional Fears
  • Mobile Information Technology

(Fear of missed opportunities)

  • Portable eReading

(Fear of being locked out)

the bottom line
The Bottom Line
  • Yes, reading digital books visually and auditorily on portable devices probably will become the preferred way to read for many people.
  • After the “failed coup” of the late 1990’s, a true portable eReading revolution is underway now.
  • Many large corporations (Amazon, Apple, Sony, Google, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) are investing in and marketing portable eReading content, systems, and services.
  • Libraries and library vendors are not well-positioned in this emerging market.We need to get busy.
the rock bottom line
The Rock Bottom Line
  • Portable eReading is being commercializedto the level of the individual consumer.
    • Historical Analogy: The rise of cable TV.
  • Portable eReading is being unbundled
    • Historical Analogy: Men shaving their faces at home
  • Libraries are in a pickle.
who and what is at risk
Who and What is at Risk?

If portable eReading for pleasure becomes an unbundled, commercial enterprise serving individual readers, the at-risk group includes:

  • Bookstores
  • Libraries
  • Have Nots
  • Students
  • Voracious Readers
a big problem
A Big Problem
  • Most established and emerging mainstream portable eReading services ignore libraries and the library model in their business plans.
    • Amazon is focused on direct-to-enduser services.
    • Google seems to view libraries as providers of the raw resource (printed books to be scanned).
    • Barnes & Noble seems uninterested in libraries.
      • NB: Their Nook has a lend-to-a-friend function.
    • Sony and OverDrive: Joint marketing agreement
lest we and they forget
Lest We (and They) Forget…
  • Most libraries are public good social and cultural organizations.
  • We serve:
    • Readers
    • Have Nots
    • Will Nots
    • Everyone who wants to
lest we and they forget 2
Lest We (and They) Forget (2)
  • Digital content has the pure potential to become an absolutely non-rivalrous public good.
    • Unlimited number of perfect copies available to everyone, anytime, anywhere
    • One person’s use of digital content does not exclude others from accessing that content (in theory)
the big question
The Big Question

Should libraries, as institutions for the public good, fight and claw their way into a position to exert a long-term, positive influence on the emerging portable eReading market?

what should librarians do
What Should Librarians Do?
  • Assert the value of Public Good information institutions
  • Re-educate Publishers about how libraries add to a healthy culture of reading
  • Strengthen alliances with Readers and Authors
  • Individually:
    • Become actively engaged in market developments
    • Begin/continue experimenting with devices and services
  • Collectively:
    • Reader Bill of Rights for the Digital Age
    • Federal legislation to protect and promote the library lending model for digital content.
ereader bill of rights just one plank
eReader Bill of Rights: Just One Plank…
  • The reader controls how a book is experienced as a sensory experience.
    • Not authors
    • Not other rights holders
    • Not publishers
    • Example: The text-to-speech function on the Kindle.
cosla report on portable ereading and public libraries
COSLA Report on Portable eReading and Public Libraries
  • Consolidate/leverage Pub Lib purchasing power
  • Consolidated access point for Pub Lib content
  • Develop a device certification process
  • Document how Pub Lib use contributes to a culture of reading (and book buying)
  • Help local authors; support self-publishing
  • More leadership about reading’s future
  • Pub Libs as labs for new reading experiences
ereading is a complete thing
eReading is a Complete Thing
  • Content
  • Reading Device
  • Distribution
  • Human
  • Process with Outcomes (short-term and long-term)
distribution and delivery via libraries
Distribution and Delivery via Libraries
  • Have staff pre-load content onto the devices, which then circulate?
  • Circulating eReader “kits” (device, transfer cord, charger)
  • Mini-collections: How many titles to load on a device?
  • In-Library download and transfer workstations?
  • Allow library users to download content from home to a library-owned device they have checked out?
  • Sell library-friendly eReading devices to patrons at a discount, at cost, or as a profit center?
libraries and the device business
Libraries and the Device Business
  • If eReading on portable devices becomes the dominate way to read, should libraries begin lending eReading devices?
    • Libraries always have been in the device business (printed books, periodicals, microfilm, CD’s, DVD’s, etc.)
    • If libraries got out of the “container” business, we could concentrate on content and information services.
    • However, a sizable percentage of the reading public may lack the money, knowledge, or patience to own and operate their own personal, portable eReading devices.
    • If libraries lend devices, how to overcome the intensely personal relationships people have with their portable devices?
the dark side of an ereading future
The Dark Side of an eReading Future
  • Reading may become increasingly marginalized by our culture and society.
  • Intellectual Property: Who owns what?
  • Mashing up and remixing existing content, we gaze at our navels
  • Criticize before or as you read, not after.
  • Communal Think: Social networking and online collectivism
portable ereading and libraries
Portable eReading and Libraries
  • Amazon’s Kindle (didn’t exhibit at ALA Annual in DC)
  • Google Editions (didn’t exhibit at ALA)
  • Apple’s iPad (didn’t exhibit at ALA)
  • OverDrive
    • Adding more mobile apps
    • Adding content
    • Simplifying the circ process
    • Certifying devices as library-model-friendly
  • Blio (B&T, Kurzweil, and NFB)
    • End-user service should launch this month
    • Library-lending module sometime in 2011
librarians in the portable ereading era
Librarians in the Portable eReading Era
  • Must show how libraries aid and extend a culture of reading.
  • Must assert and defend the library lending model for the public good.
  • Must de-balkanize: All libraries must serve anyone, anytime, anywhere patrons are.
read more about the future of portable ereading and libraries
Read More About the Future of Portable eReading and Libraries
  • COSLA. 2010 (June). COSLA: eBook Feasibility Study for Public Libraries.
  • Kakutani, Michiko. 2010. “Texts Without Context.” New York Times (March 21).
  • McArdle, Megan. 2010. “E-Donnybrook.” The Atlantic (April)
  • Peters, Tom. 2009. “The Future of Reading.” Library Journal (November 1): 18-22.
  • Rich, Motoko. 2009. “Libraries and Readers Wade Into Digital Lending.” New York Times (October 15).
  • Shatzkin, Mike. “The Shatzkin Files” [blog]
thank you for your time and attention
Thank You for Your Time and Attention

Tom Peters

Founder and CEO

TAP Information Services


Phone: 816.616.6746