Central Pa. libraries struggle getting e-books from large publishing companies
The convenience of e-books coupled with the library's wallet-friendly loan policy should optimize a reader’s experience.
Unless, of course, the title belongs to one of the big six publishing companies in America — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster — who either restrict book sales with libraries altogether or price gouge up to a rate of 300 percent.
Just how many books fall into that category? Roughly two-thirds of the entire market.
“I find it unfortunate,” said Duffy Batzer, e-books specialist at the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill. “They work with us to put books on the shelves, so I don’t understand why they won’t work with us to loan e-books.”
Batzer spends every Friday at the device kiosk inside the Fredricksen Library assisting residents with everything and anything e-book related.
“When we originally started this, it was just to help people with how to get e-books from the library,” she said. “Now, anything in the realm of online books, I’ve been trying to program for the library.”
Fredricksen Library’s e-book catalogue includes 2,500 fiction, 1,500 non-fiction and 1,500 audio titles as well as a laptop, iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, Nook touch screen and touch screen Kindle for readers to test pilot before purchase.
“They can actually look at a device and use them without listening to a sales pitch,” Batzer said.
Batzer said every library in both Dauphin and Cumberland counties retains access to the same e-book and audio book catalogue, but their selection lacks big names authors, such as Patricia Cornwell, Bill O’Reilly, Rick Riordan and Nora Roberts.
In a combined news release from the Dauphin County and Cumberland County library systems, Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr said of the contentious relationship between libraries and major publishers, “To deny library patrons access to e-books that are available to consumers — and which libraries are eager to purchase or license on their behalf — is discriminatory.”
Batzer said the lack of selection disappoints readers who depend on the library and can’t afford to buy books themselves.
“It’s the publishers, it’s not us,” Batzer said. “I think it frustrates the public.”
Libraries also find fault with the “disjointed and cumbersome” experience created by e-content distributors, who essentially act as middlemen between publisher and reader — an issue Batzer faces on a daily basis.
“It can get a little tricky because in the initial set up, you have to sign up for an adobe account if you don’t have one....” Batzer said. “And some of that can be a little intimidating to some people. But once you get through those initial steps, it’s very simple.”
Batzer periodically hosts instructional classes that teach people how to use iPads, Kindles or Nooks. She said she hopes to set a recurring schedule of classes at the library this summer.
“It’s free,” she said. “You don’t even have to live in Cumberland County — anyone who calls and signs up is welcome.”
As one of the first libraries in the county to embrace e-books, Batzer also works with other libraries to enhance their knowledge of e-books, including the Amelia Givin Library in Mt. Holly Springs.
“The reference staff here has a working knowledge and we are working to get that across the board in Cumberland County,” Batzer said.
The Cumberland County Library System is one of 200 library systems throughout the United States and Canada that has signed the ReadersFirst Initiative, demanding improved e-book services for library users that include publishers lifting restrictions on e-book sales to libraries.
Residents can take action at www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/missingtitles.
Photo credit: Michael Bupp/The Sentinel
Mechanicsburg library to offer book sale
The Friends of the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library host a winter book sale Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9 and 10, with a members’ preview sale on Friday, Feb. 8 at Books by the Gross, 400 Cheryl Ave., Mechanicsburg.
The sale features more than 12,000 items from various categories, including fiction, non-fiction, history, sports, health, gardening, children and media.
There will be a members-only preview sale from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8. Non-members can pay $20 at the door.
The main sale will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, with paperbacks sold for from $1 to $2 and hard covers for $3.
A bag sale will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, where customers can pay $10 for all the books that can fit in a bag (some restrictions will apply).
All proceeds from the sale support library programs and activities. Credit cards are accepted. Visit the library’s website at www.simpsonlibrary.org for more information.
Library coffee shop is open for business in Camp Hill
How many coffeemakers do you have?
A few weeks ago, I saw a coffeemaker that I simply had to have. I knew my life would entirely turn around if I owned this coffeemaker. Printed on the side of the box were the words: “World’s best coffeemaker.”
I lifted the box containing the coffeemaker. I shook the box. I looked longingly at the picture on the side of the box of the world’s best coffeemaker.
“You do not need another coffeemaker,” my son said. He sounded a little bit as if he was talking to an 8-year-old who wanted more cookies.
I put down the box and returned to my seat in the restaurant. I sadly stared at the coffeemaker and thought, “How many coffeemakers do I have?” I mentally counted. I have five.
That’s probably too many coffeemakers.
I have a standard sit-on-the-counter-and-make-coffee coffeemaker. I have an automatic espresso maker and a stove-top espresso maker. I have two French presses — and a partridge in a pear tree. I’m either drinking a lot of coffee, or spending an enormous amount of time making it.
I’m not a coffee snob, but I am snotty about coffee. I like it battery acid strong and I carry little packages of instant coffee in the glove box of my car, so I can add it to a purchased cup that isn’t strong enough. I usually grumble about people selling me brown water while I do this.
That’s the snotty part.
I like truck stop coffee. I like late-at-night diner coffee that stains the cracks inside of a white mug brown. But mostly, I like a lot of it.
I told Lori Loss, who is the office manager at Cleve J. Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, about my five coffeemakers. She said I sounded like someone who liked coffee. Loss was probably being nice. I sound a little strange to me.
I was talking to Loss about coffee because the library has opened a coffee shop in the library’s lower level. The shop, called The Coffee Corner, opened in November and has for sale coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bottled water, baked goods and snacks from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. weekdays.
You can buy a cup of coffee and go look at books, read a magazine or sit at a table with friends. The library’s staff just asks that you put a lid on your cup for library wanderings.
Loss, who supervises the shop, said the coffee shop’s hours might be expanded in the future, and there’s the possibility that some of the library’s books for sale might be moved into the coffee area, so you can look for books to buy while you drink your coffee and eat your muffin.
A cup of coffee at the library? Things simply could not get any better.
For more information about the library’s coffee shop, go to www.fredricksenlibrary.org.