or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Potential, Interrupted

   December 2nd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Lighting McQueen car with bootWhile with my family for Thanksgiving, my nephew Jake showed me his latest toy car - Lightning McQueen, with a boot.

He loved it, because it was something new from his favorite movie. But the more I thought about this particular toy, the more I wondered about life in general.

Whose idea was it to sell kids a toy car that is designed not to roll? Where's the fun in that? Lots of kids' toys don't do anything, I know, and rely heavily on imagination to make them fun - but this defies even that. It seems like the gratification comes not from playing with the car, but just from owning it. Personally, I think this is a Very Wrong Message to send to kids, but that's not why I'm bringing this up.

It also occurred to me was that this booted toy car is very similar to downloadable media with DRM (because I have a tendency to relate every single aspect of my life back to libraries).

Patrons can get some limited joy out of them, but the built-in handicap of DRM is contrary to how (I think) downloadable media is supposed to work. DRM doesn't render downloadable audiobooks completely useless, but it does derail their potential and makes enjoying them unnecessarily difficult.

I asked Jake why he liked this car, since it didn't roll, but being three years old, he just said he wanted it because it was Lightning McQueen. I tried to get him to play with his brother and me as we zoomed cars that did roll back and forth to each other across the floor, but he just sat on a chair holding his new car and looking at it.

As an uncle, I felt bad that the limitations of Jake's new toy kept him from playing with us. But he didn't seem upset, and I figured he'd eventually realize that looking at a car that doesn't work isn't as much fun as playing with one that does.

As a librarian, I feel like every downloadable media option available to us has a boot on it, and people are afraid to get down on the floor and start rolling cars around. We're timidly exploring "free-wheeling" options, and I am hoping libraries and Jake quickly come to the same realization.

And I know I might talk about the wrongs of DRM too much, but it just bugs me.



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Another Announcement from OverDrive

   April 1st, 2008 Brian Herzog

OverDrive logoHot on the heels of its announcement of mp3-based and iPod-compatible audiobooks, Overdrive is introducing a new product line: Large Print Audiobooks.

Designed to cater to the elderly and vision-impaired library patrons (just like our print large print collections), OverDrive has contracted with various large print book vendors to convert their catalogs into large print audio versions.

I think it is great that vendors aren't always trying to cast wide nets to scoop up as much profit as possible, but instead are providing products based on the needs of our smaller patron groups.

The only catch is that, like large print books, the audiobook files will be larger than their normal versions. Also, larger headphones are required, too, to accommodate the extra sound.

Still, it's great. You can keep up with more announcements on the OverDrive News page.



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I [heart] Audiobooks, Side 1

   November 29th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Audiobook imageFor Thanksgiving, I drove from Massachusetts to my hometown in Ohio. It's about a 12-hour drive, each way, and I found that 12 hours in the car means different things to different people.

Most people reacted with, "ugh, that sounds miserable" or "I could never sit in the car that long."

I suppose I am lucky that I am an excellent sitter, but I also don't mind driving distances like that at all. I enjoy traveling and seeing the country (though it is unfortunate that not much can be seen at 80 65 mph). But this trip also meant 24 hours of audiobooks.

For this trip, I listened to The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, and also Washington Schlepped Here, by Christopher Buckley. The last one was kind of walking tour of Washington, D.C., with history, humor and current politics all blended together, and the first two are the two books that come after Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. I was thoroughly entertained for the entire trip, and although I didn't know much about The Golden Compass before, now I'm really looking forward to the movie.

But do you know what I like best about audiobooks?


This post is continued at this point on the other side of this blog

audio book, audio books, audiobook, audiobooks, driving, traveling



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Dirk Gently Serialized on BBC Radio 4

   October 9th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Dirk Gently coverBBC Radio 4 is serializing (one of my favorite authors) Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books.

This is something American radio doesn't seem to do - at least, not enough. Radio is a natural format for audio books, and the internet is a natural delivery media. Way to go, BBC Radio 4.

via Slashdot

audio book, audio books, bbc, bbc radio 4, dirk gently, douglas adams



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