Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ebooks and Privacy

There has been a lot of talk lately about Amazon, Overdrive, and privacy issues.  When I first heard that Overdrive was adding Amazon I thought "good now it won't matter which device patrons own, they will all have equal access." (Obviously this was wrong. I'm not even going to go into the various Overdrive catalogs out there).

The central issue is Amazon's policy of collecting information from Overdrive users. This shakes the many librarians to their very core. I mean we're all about freedom of information and being free from undue influence in the things we choose to read. About a week ago I checked out a book using a Kindle. No problem; it was easy to complete the process. I started reading it not worrying about the due date (which is one of the best things about checking out library eBooks). Then I got the message "Your public library book will expire in 3 days. If you ~purchase~ [emphasis added] Battlefields of the Civil War [A Guide for Travelers Volume I] from the Kindle Store or borrow it again from your local library, all of your notes and highlights will be preserved." Having my notes saved is a cool feature, but what really burned my pipes was the sales pitch. I liken this practice to the answering the doorbell  on a Saturday morning by some zealous salesman.

Is this something that we can all unite under and get it changed? Is it even worth trying? Is this another side effect of living in a capitalist society? What’s a librarian to do!

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