July 3rd, 2014 Brian Herzog
This seems like something that shouldn't be big news, but I think it's cool and long overdue.
I read on Go To Hellman one of those "finally..." posts - Eric had a great idea a long time ago, and now suddenly it's been implemented. The idea:
I imagined that popular websites would use fancy links to let their readers get books from their local libraries. And that search engines would prefer these links because their users would love to have access to their library books.
And now it seems that Overdrive is making this happen - in two ways:
- When you do an apparent book search Bing (like, the girl with the dragon tattoo book, the right sidebar has a "Read this book" section that includes preview & download links to Overdrive. It even suggests libraries based on your IP, so you can check it out - in my case, it guessed right with "Merrimack Vally Library Consortium"
- With the "read online" feature that was added to Overdrive during their last upgrade, people also have easy access to an excerpt. You can see it in the Bing example, and embedded in this Huffington Post book review (also with a "Get book" link)
Good stuff. Not exactly new - LibraryThing, WorldCat, and other book websites have been linking to libraries for years. But this really brings libraries to the forefront of your casual internet browser in a much bigger way - and it doesn't just link to a catalog record for a print item, it's immediate electronic gratification.
It's not everywhere yet - when I tested it tonight, the same search on Google had links to purchase the book from a variety of places, but none to libraries.
And also, these links only go to Overdrive, which, in many cases, is only a fraction of a library's electronic resources (which itself is only a fraction of our overall collection). Still, it's a start, and I'm excited.
Now we just need to get people to use Bing.
Tags: bing, download, ebook, excerpt, go to hellman, huffington post, libraries, Library, overdrive, public, read online
December 4th, 2008 Brian Herzog
This is what it looks like when I shoot off my mouth too soon.
My last post was about how DRM downloadable audiobooks drastically limit the audiobook audience, and how an alternative for libraries is not readily available yet. Between then and now, my library's consortium's newsletter [pdf] came out, announcing that MP3 audiobooks are now available for download through our Overdrive subscription.
I know the Boston Public Library has been offering MP3 audiobooks through Overdrive for awhile, and I'm happy that we are now, too. The newsletter article [pdf] is worth reading if you're interested, but here are some highlights:
- These MP3s work with Apple products, so iPod-people can now be like everyone else
- There's a Mac version of the Overdrive Media Console, which is still necessary for checking the books out
- The format is plainly indicated in the search result records, along with the type of media the file is compatible with (either MP3 or WMA):
- This paragraph also gives me hope:
We do have 200 titles in the MP3 format. There are a broad variety of genres and subjects available, and we will continue to build the mp3 collection in each month’s OverDrive purchase. There are more "classics" than "hot titles" available in MP3 at this time; however, as the pop title publishers become more comfortable with mp3 access to more titles in the market should evolve.
Now the real test will be to see how our circulation stats change with this addition. Thanks to everyone who made this happen. If you're a library using Overdrive, I encourage you to contact them to see about offering MP3 audiobooks through your interface.
Yay for taking the boot off the car.
Tags: audio, audiobook, audiobooks, book, Books, download, downloadable, libraries, Library, mp3, mp3s, overdrive, public, wma
December 2nd, 2008 Brian Herzog
While 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.
Tags: audio, audio book, audiobooks, book, car, cars, digital rights management, download, downloadable, drm, libraries, Library, lightning mcqueen, media, mp3, public