Thursday, December 1, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
At Catholic University of America’s School of Library Science Bridging the Spectrum 2012 Symposium I’m presenting on using QR codes to link digital holdings to print. More details are here.
I’ll be exploring QR codes a bit more in depth at the 2012 meeting of Computers in Libraries as part of a panel. At that conference I’ll also be presenting on transforming library spaces, the subject of this post.
In both cases, the blog posts served as rough formats for abstracts that were accepted at these conferences. I used more academic language, of course, but the content and structure are otherwise unchanged. My staff and I identified problems, then thought of solutions. QR codes can be tracked, numerical data on building and space usage collected, so defining success was relatively easy for each project. What makes for a good read here makes for a good one on a conference submission form as well. I think these experiences are applicable elsewhere, and I’m eager to be part of the conversation on these topics.
Standby for witty and irreverent slide decks closer to each of the conferences.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
There’s a certain, seemingly-illicit thrill in leaving work to buy alcohol, especially in the middle of the day, and especially if the alcohol in question is scarce. But it's a slow day, and we've got more than enough front desk coverage, so away I go. Against my better judgement, I take the advice of Google Maps, which states that the trip will take 23 minutes. It takes twice that. Goodbye lunch break. I get to the store, hoping that CBS hasn’t arrived yet, and it hasn’t. So I wait, and wait, and wait. I’m the second person in the store anticipating CBS’s arrival. Clearly he’s also a beer geek, and just as clearly, it’s a he. The only female who enters the store buys cheese and leaves. I introduce myself to the person in charge of beer at the store. We’ve actually “talked” via twitter many times, but this is our first meeting in real life. We pick up the conversation where it left off online: beer and 1990s rap. Just like us, he’s waiting for the shipment of CBS, all the while fielding phone calls from other beer geeks.
The other guy in line is wearing a Cigar City shirt. We talk shop. Did I hear that a keg of CBS at Churchkey was kicked in under 15 minutes? I had not. We shake our heads, and the talk naturally turns to Hopslam, the other sought-after Michigan beer. A few more people enter the store, and join the conversation. We all scan the wall of beer: what have we had, not had, liked, not liked? And we wait some more.
The wine people stare at us. Apologetically, I tell one of the wine people that I like wine as well, just not enough to wait in line for it. He laughs and says “sure you do.” I scan the wine, getting hungry since this is technically still my lunch break, yet I’ve brought no lunch. More waiting.
Cheese samples! An excellent Gruyere, and a well-aged Gouda. It’s something. The cheese monger and I chat for a bit and he brings me a few more samples. But then it’s more waiting, back to scanning the walls of wine.
I approach the same wine person, inquiring about a bottle the shop doesn’t have from a producer the shop carries. This is a mix of boredom, curiosity, and defensiveness. I must show him I know what I’m talking about. I’m disappointed that he’s not caught off guard, but says he’ll look into it. More waiting.
I fill out a form for that bottle of wine to get a sense of its price and availability. Someone else is at the cheese counter discussing cured meats. I sidle up so I can leech a sample off this conversation. It works, I get a fantastic domestic chorizo, pimenton is dominant, yet more cheese appears, and I’m happy.
Finally, the distributor shows up. We form a surprisingly orderly queue based on who arrived first, which means I’m second in line. The Founders boxes don’t come off at first, though, so there’s more waiting. I’m getting irrationally giddy about this. It’s a 750mL bottle. I can’t drink that much imperial stout, I probably only want 6 ounces of it, at the most. I resolve to cellar it and then show up to a DC Homebrewers meeting with the bottle, arriving every bit the hero.
I purchase the bottle of CBS, along with a 4-pack of Founder’s wet-hopped Harvest Ale. I take my route back to work, not Google’s. It takes 22 minutes. It’s been 2.5 hours since I left work. Would I do it again? Of course. But first, I have some hours to make up at work.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
I'm back at it again over at dcbeer.com. This time with a post about pumpkin beers, which seem to provoke people, hence the video above. While the article is mostly about local pumpkin beers, I do mention some of the more popular offerings from around the US. Enjoy.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
While fancier digs are hopefully on the way, we're not standing pat. I've worked with stakeholders across campus to modernize the facilities, adding computers, and making the most out of the spaces we've been given by noting how those spaces are used and then acting in ways that complement and accentuate their usage.
For example, library staff noticed both students and faculty congregating in a ground floor space that also houses our microfilm and bound back issues of journals, magazines, and other serials. At the same time, our School of Continuing Education was looking for more space to hold classes. It just so happened that these students and faculty were primarily Continuing Education, and so a partnership was born. We moved the microfilm against a wall, installed two whiteboards, and brought in some classroom furniture from elsewhere. A drop-down screen and a hanging projector are en route. This space, so popular that adjuncts have asked to use it for office hours, is now going to be a classroom, and a place where students, faculty, and other patrons can come together to accomplish things. What began with qualitative evidence on the part of library staff became a partnership with another campus organization. Together we fought for that space, and in particular that projector, when some on campus wanted to skimp on materials. I can see how proud Continuing Education is of that space. These students are commuters and there's not much that "theirs" on our campus.
Math labs are all the rage on many campuses, and ours is no exception. A math professor proposed one someone on campus. I proposed the library, thinking that anything that gets people in to the library is a win. The professor agreed, and in a space that previously held empty shelving, we now have five computers and two white boards, with weekly math sessions and daily tutoring available. Thanks, math department!
Finally, an extra blackboard and an empty wall became a match on the 2nd floor of the building. Students were quietly using the Religion/Religious Studies room (our stacks are broken into rooms, I told you it was an old building) to study, so an uninstalled blackboard found a home.
Lessons learned from these experiences:
- Observe how space is being used, then act on it - the data we compiled for these spaces began as anecdotal evidence. Library staff members telling each other what they noticed in the building. Without open communication and a staff committed to constant improvement, this will be difficult.
- Find allies where possible - this doesn't happen unless there are regular lines of communication between the library staff and the rest of campus. Keep your eyes and ears open, as well as at least part of your budget. Be part of the greater community, because you'll find something
- Be the squeaky wheel - I've been pushy as a library director, and I'm sure there are lines that people think I've crossed. I understand that and I'm conscious of it, but at the same time, I want results. This isn't a science, and it's not even an art, but if you don't ask for something, you won't get it (lifehacker link). It helps that asking is easier if you have other campus organizations and institutions supporting the endeavor.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
On Monday library staff were relocated to a basement classroom in another building. It seemed that nobody missed us. We had a few e-mails, but no walk-ins, nobody asking about reserve books, even. It looked like a failure; a library goes dark and nobody notices.
But the next day, after finally persuading the higher ups that we needed an all campus e-mail about the situation (??), and word got out. We had a few visitors in our new digs, and I lead an impromptu reference session on the steps of the library via a laptop and wifi. Our reference librarian visited the bookstore, where students asked about us and when the building might reopen.
Wednesday morning was slightly busier, and finally we got power back on Wednesday afternoon. The library is hopping, so I am happy.
We don’t do a lot of marketing here. We’re an academic library and there aren’t any public libraries within walking distance; students are somewhat stuck with us, which is a lousy choice of words, but it’s true. They’ll continue to use Google and Wikipedia first, and then the library databases a distant second, but I was struck by how quiet our makeshift library was while the power was out. I didn’t like it.
This situation became, for me, something of a test run. What might a library look like without books, without a building? We went to other locations on campus, we interacted with students in locations they wouldn’t expect to see us, like the dining hall, the bookstore, and even outside.
And so a power failure shed light on what were were and weren’t doing as a library, and as librarians. A marketing failure became an opportunity, one that we’ll continue to explore. On my shelf I have a few books on library marketing. It’s time to take a look at them.
- Marketing Today’s Academic Library, Brian Mathews (2009)
- The Accidental Library Marketer, Kathy Dempsy (2009)
- Building Bridges, Monty McAdoo (2010)
- Academic Library Outreach, Nancy Courtney, ed (2009)
And so what began as a loss of power became something beneficial by exposing what needed to be done. It’s post hoc, but it’s a start.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Google+, however, is relatively intuitive. You’ve likely seen, and used, Facebook. You’ve at least heard of twitter (a subtle nudge to follow me), if only to make fun of Charlie Sheen, or wonder why Lady Gaga has so many followers, and if that might be the decline of Western civilization (hint, it’s not). Yes, Google+ does these, but it can do more.
- Circles. Sure, you can create groups in Facebook, and then grant or restrict access based on those groups, but very few people do this. I did it, then Facebook changed this process, and it’s less intuitive. In Google+, modifying access is easy. If you teach several classes, create a circle for each course. Post something to your stream (or “feed” if you prefer to use Facebook’s terminology) and then choose which circle or circles get to see it.
- Spark. I’m a bit unclear on how this works at the moment, but I see great potential. You list your interests, and Spark brings them to you. Curation made simple, similar to Google Reader, or an RSS feed, in your social media platform. Between Spark and Circles, you can push out articles and posts of interest to a class, or other category of users (something like a listserv, perhaps).
- Hangout. Got a webcam? Create a hangout, a place to video chat. It’s not asynchronous, but if you’re snowed out, cancelling class; want a review session before an exam; or if you and an out-of-state colleague are working on a project and want to talk, this is useful.
- It’s Google. You’re already there. You use search. You might use gmail personally, and maybe your place of employment uses a gmail app. You know this company, or at least you think you do.
- There’s no gradebook in Google+. That might be the biggie. Sure, you can create a Google doc spreadsheet (and input your grading formulas if you’d like), but then everyone can view everyone else’s grades, or you can lock it down, and no one can see them.
- Your data. Google doesn’t make stuff for you or me. It makes stuff so that when we use it, it collects data on what we do. This data is very useful to a great many organizations. Corporations, governments, terrorist groups, NGOs... you get the idea.
- Exclusivity. Joining Google+ is difficult now. It’s in beta, and locked down. I don’t understand why the former affects the latter (note: this is Google’s argument, not mine). Gmail was in beta for years, yet everyone could join. I also imagine that Google has the bandwidth for this. Make it happen. Open up G+ to everyone. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Posting a library job in this economic climate leads to a lot of applications. For two intern positions MPOW received over 65 of them, and quite a few of the applicants had more experience than I. Then again, quite a few did not. All in all, the (virtual) pile of resumes and cover letters paint a depressing picture of the job market for librarians and library science students.
More depressing, however, is the picture of the applicant pool. Many lacked cover letters, one otherwise qualified candidate misspelled her location, right below her name on the top of the resume. That prospective employee did not make the cut, simply because of that typo. I have thick enough skin to be called shallow, but attention to detail matters in a library. We’ll teach the person in this position how to catalog, for example, and if there’s a glaring error at the top of a resume, I’m not letting you near a MARC record.
About that cover letter, read these first. Then, it’s not about you. Your resume is about you. The cover letter? That’s about us, in that, “what can you do for us?” Answer that and you’re well on your way to a call back.
We don’t score the applications, mostly because we don’t have to. It’s obvious to library staff and I who we’d like to interview and who we wouldn’t, often within about 15 seconds of opening the application package. We showed one of our interns this process, going through about 10 resumes in under 4 minutes, and she was mortified, but then again, she passed the eye test, and the interview (more on that below). I told her to tell her MLIS friends: know that this is what’s happening with employers. You’ve got about 15 seconds of my time, and if I’m not interested after that, you won’t be considered. This doesn’t mean you have to resort to gimmicks (and they're out there), but it does mean you need to be qualified and competent at presenting yourself on paper, which means you’ve checked out the library website, thought a bit about the library, and how you might fit in, among other things.
The people we’ve offered the job to had a clear narrative in the interview. They stuck to that narrative and presented themselves in terms of what they could do for us. They asked questions of us, about my management style, about the future of the library, and about a world without books, among others. And yes, I asked about retail experience, which netted us some great stories about the life of a flight attendant (job offered and accepted!), and how working at the Smoothie Hut isn’t really about smoothies.
In sum, folks in libraryland looking for work
- Be competent. Just by doing that you’ll separate yourself from the pack.
- Show interest in us. We may be just another library to you, on your 4th cover letter of the day, but your application doesn’t have to reflect that.
- Sell yourself in the interview. What can you do for us. Ask questions, be curious.
Best of luck out there, recent MLIS grads. Those of us with jobs, we’re rooting for you.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
SAVOR bills itself as a place where fine food and craft beers are paired, but very few people are there for the food, which was fine. Think high-end wedding Hors d'oeuvre (what, you’ve never been?) getting lukewarm and you’re in the ballpark. That being said, a few pairings really stood out. Serving Alaskan Brewing’s Smoked Porter with smoked salmon doesn’t win any points for originality, but it was delicious all the same. I went back for seconds, then thirds. Odell Brewing Company’s sour fruit beer, Friek, was paired with Carr Valley bread cheese, and the vinegar-esque sourness from the beer cut through the dairy fat of the cheese. Like Greg Kitsock, who writes for the Washington Post, I paired Moon River’s Swamp Fox IPA with pork belly on a biscuit instead of a tiny mushroom tart. The dank woodsy flavors of the beer, rosemary is a featured ingredient and this beer does taste a bit like fresh forest floor undergrowth (this is a good thing, trust me), complimented the spices in the biscuit and the earthiness of the pork belly. This pairing had something like terroir, an impressive feat.
Each brewer pours two of their beers at SAVOR, and because I’m a guy and I’ve read High Fidelity, everything not only can be ranked. but must be. The best breweries, based on each brewery's two offerings, were Yazoo Brewing (a rye saison and a porter named Sue) and Captain Lawrence Brewing (a smoked porter and a tripel aged in applejack barrels). I also enjoyed the aformentioned Friek from Odell, and their second beer, an oak aged quad called Woodcut #5, packed a wallop.
Other standouts included
Avery Brewing Company’s Dihos Dactylion, a spontaneously fermented ale that’s hard to describe, but easy to drink. If you like red wine, maybe, just maybe, this will get you into beer. And if you like beer, but aren’t sure about sours, maybe, just maybe, this and Odell’s Friek will convince you.
Funkwerk’s Wit, a Belgian-style white ale brewed with lemons, oranges, ginger, with ginger dominant. You could drink this with brunch, you could drink this with Southeast Asian food, you could drink this by yourself.
Tank 7 from Boulevard Brewing, a saison infected with brettanomyces, which creates a slightly funky aftertaste that really does taste a bit like a farm, the origin of this style of beer.
Buckbean Brewing Company’s Orange Blossom Ale, a pale ale with a sweet and honeyed, but not syrupy or cloying, aroma of orange blossoms. For some reason it’s sold in 16 oz cans. Yes, craft beer in tall boys.
Trinity Brewhouse’s Decadence, a double IPA aged in Woodford Reserve barrels. Based on that sentence you should be interested. (Note: I feel dirty for linking to Beer Advocate. It won't happen much here. Promise.)
RJ Rocker’s Son of a Peach Wheat Ale. An American wheat ale, but with peaches.
If you’re noticing a trend above, there were an awful lot of excellent beers with fruit in them this year. I, for one, welcome our new fruit overlords.
The dark side of SAVOR is that too many breweries ran out of beer, often only half-way through the event, while the kitchen didn’t fare much better.
Also, an observation: it’s probably not a surprise to hear that the far majority of the attendees were white males between the ages of 25-50, but wow. With about 2000 people in the building, that’s a lot of white males.
Finally, it was great to be able to talk to the brewers themselves; with only a few exceptions they were the ones pouring the beer. That’s not something you’ll find at most other festivals, and many of the brewers I talked to were genuinely excited and appreciative of my interest and support. Well done, SAVOR. Until next year, cheers.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
At a time when pulling out of markets is the new black (IPA), I’ve got some good news. “Gypsy” brewer Pretty Things, based out of Cambridge, MA and brewed in Westport, MA (for now) is coming to DC via Legends Ltd as early as next week.
I spoke to Erin Tyler at Legends, and a certified cicerone, who reached out to Pretty Things about eight months ago, before withdrawing from territories was all the rage, and to Dann Paquette, Pretty Things’ brewer. The first two beers DC will see are Baby Tree, a Belgian style quad brewed with plumbs, and St. Botolph’s, a rustic brown ale that tastes like Newcastle, if Newcastle was handmade with care rather than by a heartless multinational corporation. By late June (via Legends) or mid-July (via Pretty Things) we’ll see their flagship beer, Jack D’Or, a saison hopped with citra that’s a personal favorite. We won’t see any of their offerings on draft, though, so you’ll have to settle for bombers, the only bottle size that Pretty Things uses.
I first had the pleasure of drinking Pretty Things Jack D’Or at Deep Ellum in Allston, MA in June, 2009 and was immediately hooked. I’ve been bringing their bottles from New York every time I’m up there. In the meantime, Greg Jasur at Pizzeria Paradiso has taken advantage of strange DC regulations that allow retailers and restaurants to self-import, so some Pretty Things’ products are already available at the two DC Pizzeria Paradiso locations.
Nice to know that more good beer will be available down here. DCBeer also has some information on this, and should be the first place you turn to for any and all beer news in DC. Stay pretty, DC beer drinkers.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
1. You’ve got a master list of all print serials you subscribe to, right? If not, make one.
2. For each print serial, use your link resolver (my place of work doesn’t have one of these, which is a problem. I’m working on it) and/or database and/or OPAC (yeah, I just used that term, I'm old) that holds the online version, and get a stable URL for each title.
3. Use these URLs to create QR codes, for free, at QRStuff.com. Feel free to pretty them up.
4. Get yourself a smartphone, even if you’re borrowing one from another staff member. Install the free app ATT Scanner on an iPhone, or the QR Droid app, also free, on an Android phone.
5. Quality control: make sure even first generation smartphones, like my 3G iPhone, for example, can read the QR codes. Expand or contract the size of the codes as needed.
6. Print out the QR codes, and make sure to protect the paper, which might include laminating (expensive) or well-deployed packing tape (cheaper). Perform more quality control.
7. Place the corresponding QR code next to where each print serial is shelved. Post instructions in clearly visible locations. Don’t forget the details; at some libraries patrons may have to join a wireless network to access online serials.
8. Shamelessly promote it. Library blog posts, table toppers, posters... you get the idea.
Why do this?
1. Having the ability to search past issues of a title next to the more current paper issues can help patrons conduct research.
2. QR codes are hip, modern, and interactive. Making your library a hipper, more modern, more interactive place to be will pay off for you.
3. Many of the patrons at MPOW (my place of work) don’t have internet access at home, except for smartphones. It’s a tool that they’re comfortable with. We as librarians should be comfortable with it as well, and as we see smartphone use on the rise, I hope that vendors begin to design easy to use mobile sites alongside more traditional interfaces. In the meantime, let's bring the library to our patrons, via QR codes and mobile computing.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Radio silence on the library front since March 22nd. Wow, how did that happen? Here’s how.
At home we’ve been on a mad dash to upgrade and repair. Carpets, bathrooms, bedrooms, and oh yeah, iTunes crapped out during a hard drive failure, so I’ve been reorganizing 143 GB of music into playlists (ever the librarian!).
On the work front, I went from something titled Acting Senior Library Manager, to Director of Library Services. How’d I do that? Glad you asked. Both those positions above report to our Provost, also the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The person in that position, who I get along with quite well, took a medical leave, and I sprung to action. I presented to faculty on some of the many alternatives to textbooks, I invited the university president to the library to see what we had been up to (she came by when the library was busy, always a plus), and as it turned out, I was being watched, if not groomed. I'll expand on this later.
So what’s next? Glad you asked. Stay tuned.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The library where I work, the library that I now run, I guess, doesn't really do the book thing. We've got books, but they're books from the 70s, when the core of the school was arts and sciences. In the last fifteen years, four of which involve me, the school has expanded, moving from a college to a university with several professional schools. For a variety of reasons, all of them depressing, the library did not keep up. As a result, we've got a great collection of Victorian literature... and nobody to teach about it. We've got books in French and German... languages no longer offered. You get the idea. We're getting better, more current, but we've got a ways to go. We're starting a distance-learning, online-only program in the fall, and we push patrons towards electronic and digital resources because we think that's where the world's headed... but this make us more vulnerable. We provide access to information, to knowledge, that we don't own. E-books are different from books that way; we don't lease any physical copies of books, although students can do that through the campus bookstore.
What if the next move of other, more academic, publishers is to limit access to e-books in a way similar to HarperCollins? What if an e-book could be accessed or viewed, analogous to circulating, as I see it, 26 times? What would happen to our distance learning program then? What about e-books placed on reserve to be accessed via course management software? A class of 20 students wouldn't last half a semester under that regime, and thus the library's budget wouldn't, either. So you see, Annoyed Librarian, we're all in this together, we're not so dissimilar. Let's hang together instead of separately on this issue.
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Monday, March 7, 2011
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the HarperCollins affair has lead to a wider discussion about e-books in libraries, access versus ownership, and the role that DRM plays in our lives. After all, HarperCollins decision wasn’t made in a vacuum; they have interests to protect and those interests aren’t relevant to just HarperCollins, but to all publishers, especially the Big Six, and to authors as well, who deserve to be compensated for their work.
Librarians, for their part, have advocated resistance (I assume that there’s also a silent majority or plurality out there that’s going to carry on as they did before HarperCollins decision), ranging from a boycott of DRM, a boycott of all of HarperCollins, a boycott of just HarperCollins e-books, to lobbying. But we haven’t heard much from HarperCollins or their supporters… until now.
Martin Taylor is the managing director of Addenda Publishing in
No surprise, then, that Mr. Taylor writes
In spite of the heat HarperCollins can expect to receive from its library customers, I hope they stand their ground. Librarians need to shift their thinking as digitisation transforms the reading landscape. They are doing authors, publishers and ultimately themselves and their patrons no favours by this stance.
The fact is that rightsholders do have serious concerns and librarians have not managed to address them… In the face of rightsholders’ concerns, librarians must listen not bully, and they should be willing to experiment with new models that will ensure libraries and other channels can co-exist in the emerging, all-pervasive digital world. No-one has all the answers yet but we won’t solve this issue by denying the existence of the problem and closing off avenues for fresh thinking.
There are some good points made in his article, and I think that librarians need to hear alternative perspectives, away from the #hcod echo chamber, but to this reader two words jump out, “rightsholders” and “bully.” Let’s take these in turn.
Taylor is, I think, absolutely correct about the difference between print and electronic books, and what this difference means for the relationship between libraries and publishers, “the potential ease with which borrowers can get a free ebook is a quantum shift, not merely an incremental change” (italics in original). He also points out that it is print copies of books that sell when libraries circulate e-books, and publishers would like library patrons to buy e-books as well as print. Fair enough. But the distribution model for e-books and e-book publishers compared to print is also a quantum shift, one that is not addressed here. I may as well start with the inflammatory statement and proceed from there, so here goes: who needs publishers anymore?
We’ve seen traditional distribution channels circumvented in music publishing and distribution for some time now. Radiohead, a popular and critical success, has managed to make millions by selling mp3/wav file downloads directly to consumers, and then partnering with publishers to sell traditional materials. Hundreds of other bands don’t get rich using this model, but they make a living, and maybe even a career out of it, which in the end is their goal. I like to think that most authors don’t dream of millions of dollars, but of millions of people discussing their works and their ideas therein. Maybe that’s overly romantic of me, and so be it, but then again, I know a lot of writers, and I don’t think any of them would trade places with a cash-obsessed hack (no need to name names, insert your tastes here). Authors can sell e-books via Amazon’s Kindle store, something less than a publisher, something more than the Radiohead model. It’s already happening. And it's not entirely a good thing. Look at Borders.
Now, this is the extreme, not very nuanced position. But tell me I’m wrong. Use the comments below, or use an excerpt on your blog and let’s have a conversation on the middle ground.
As for bullying, we didn’t land on #hcod, Mr. Taylor. #hcod landed on us. Librarians are not the bullies here. Bullies pick on the weak, using positions of strength to force their terms on others. HarperCollins capricious and arbitrary decision to limit check outs of e-books to 26 times was unilaterally imposed on libraries, without consultation or negotiation. Who’s the bully here?
In the end, however, I think the author and I agree on how this is going to end for many public library systems, at least in the short-term: some of the costs of e-books are going to be passed along to patrons. Librarians don’t like charging for services, but given the budget cuts, it’s going to happen. Right now most e-reader owners are affluent and can afford these costs. As e-readers' costs approach $0, though (and that’s going to happen soon), more people at all income levels will have them, at which point lending e-books for a fee may be a only temporary fix.
Maybe by the time we revisit this conversation, there won't be a Big Six, and that's what HarperCollins decision is all about.