I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that the e-book market is A World of Hurt for libraries. I don’t even know where to begin in listing the litany of damage that the ebook market presents for librairies. I mean, srsly.
But believe it or not, libraries are not the only ones getting royally screwed. It’s you and me, even simply as individual consumers.
Let’s say I want to read a particular book or watch a particular TV show. Where is it in digital form? Can I get it on my Kindle? My iPad? Do I launch iBooks on my iPad? Or the Kindle app? Or what? And TV is just as broken.
I’ve taken to writing down TV shows in which I’m interested and which platform I can stream them from. I’m not kidding. It’s a post-it on my desk. Lemme see…if I want to catch the latest episode of Revolution that would be Hulu+. But if I want to get caught up with Nikita, that would be Netflix. And The Newsroom? HBOgo. Oh, and Last Resort might be ABC.com. I think.
Today I tried to find a way to stream a show and basically the message was “check back”, like they were negotiating a contract then and there. Meanwhile, I’ve had content I thought I had access to disappear because the contract ran out. How the heck am I supposed to keep track of that?
I’d like to say that this is completely unacceptable, since it is. But who am I kidding? They have the content I seek and they can do whatever they want to with it. But at the same time, they are being stupid. I put up with whatever advertisements they want to add into the content in order to view it online. I really do.
Last night I tried to see what it would take to register on a site to get their content, and literally this is what I was faced with: “Are you eligible? [This content] is available through most providers, but not all. Click the drobdown button below, and cross your fingers. If you don’t see your provider, keep checking back.” What was listed in the dropdown box was one — exactly one — cable provider. In other words, if you weren’t a subscriber to that particular cable provider, well, you’re out of luck. There wasn’t even a provision to sign up there and then directly with the content provider. What’s up with that?
This is why digital content is so broken. I should, as a consumer, be able to buy access to whatever I want whenever I want it. And libraries should be able to do the same on behalf of their clientele. Period. Why is this so hard? Why is it so difficult for me — or a library on my behalf — to give someone some money?