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First US Public Library With No Paper Books Opens In Texas

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the just-rifles-and-cowboy-hats dept.

Books 212

cold fjord writes "Bexar Country in Texas has opened a new $2.3 million library called BiblioTech. It doesn't have physical books, only computers and e-reader tablets. It is the first bookless public library system in the U.S. The library opened in an area without nearby bookstores, and is receiving considerable attention. It has drawn visitors from around the U.S. and overseas that are studying the concept for their own use. It appears that the library will have more than 100,000 visitors by year's end. Going without physical books has been cost effective from an architecture standpoint, since the building doesn't have to support the weight of books and bookshelves. A new, smaller library in a nearby town cost $1 million more than Bexar Country's new library. So far there doesn't appear to be a problem with returning checked out e-readers. A new state law in Texas defines the failure to return library books as theft."

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212 comments

Presidential Library? (3, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 7 months ago | (#45866911)

Is it a presidential library, perchance?

Re:Presidential Library? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45866913)

No, President Obama is still deciding.

Re:Presidential Library? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867003)

No - you are thinking of the Bush Jr. Library. The vendors are still designing content for that one: http://tinyurl.com/menud68 [tinyurl.com]

Re:Presidential Library? (-1, Flamebait)

mendax (114116) | about 7 months ago | (#45867307)

You won't find much in the Bush, Jr. library that Bush wrote that wasn't written in crayon. Anything written by Dick Cheney will be either written in blood or a pen forged in hell.

No, it's an NSA branch library. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867781)

No books, only computers and e-readers. Extremely convenient. For everyone.

Why bother (3, Interesting)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 7 months ago | (#45866949)

A library without books is... pointless. Why not just build a Starbucks or a McDonalds. Or, actually, an empty room. What a waste.

Re:Why bother (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45866953)

e-books

Re:Why bother (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867129)

jackass

Re:Why bother (5, Insightful)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | about 7 months ago | (#45867001)

You're confusing medium with content. Physical books are not important in themselves - it's the content within them that's important, and that does not have to be tied to a particular medium. One can be very well-read nowadays without ever laying hands on dead trees.

Re:Why bother (4, Insightful)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 7 months ago | (#45867093)

If I wanted to read the Internet, I could stay home. Print on paper is an utterly different experience. You know -- Tactile, spatial (how far into the book you are, what side of the page) -- not to mention, you can slip bookmarks into pages, photocopy them, and pass them around between several people.

When I check half a dozen books out of the library, I read one, I pass it along to Mom while she's reading another, and to Dad, and my brother... How do you propose doing that with a bunch of e-books?

Why NOT bother? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867113)

while paper books actually do have some advantages...most libraries do not carry multiple copies of that book. A major advantage here is that every one of their readers can have the exact same book on it at the exact same time so 12 people in 12 households can all enjoy it at the same time.

Secondly, if you read the article, this is actually a poorer area of the city in which many households do not have internet access. So putting it all on the web would still NOT benefit them.

Do I think there should be an online library? Of course, its ridiculous that we do not have one yet in fact. Its a holdover from money-grubbing publication houses who want to continue to create an artificial scarcity of their product to keep prices higher than they should be. But is this a bad idea? A waste of money or time? Not at all, its a step in the right direction, and a big one at that.

Re:Why NOT bother? (4, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 7 months ago | (#45867167)

while paper books actually do have some advantages...most libraries do not carry multiple copies of that book. A major advantage here is that every one of their readers can have the exact same book on it at the exact same time so 12 people in 12 households can all enjoy it at the same time.

Except reality doesn't work that way. Those wacky rights-holders still expect to be paid for content. Whoda thunk it?

Electronic libraries have been around for years. Other than the paper, they work pretty much the same. The library licenses the content and is allowed to lend out X copies of the titles they license. If X+8 people want to borrow the same title, the 8 go on a wait list just like they would for a paper book. And the libraries often only have partial collections. They may have 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 of a series but not books 4 and 6. Why? Heck if I know but they do. Or sometimes they'll have the entire series but only 1 copy for each book so it can take forever to get them all in the correct order because book 3 has a wait list of 40 people.

Re:Why NOT bother? (3, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#45867357)

don't forget about expiring books. publishers also have 'can only lend X times' terms as well. the library might pay less for the book initially, but over time it is likely they will pay more if the book is at all popular.

Re:Why NOT bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867427)

The 'can only lend X times' is actually consistent with a paper version - have you ever seen the shape of a typical paperback after 10 or so readings?

Re:Why NOT bother? (2)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#45867871)

The other nice thing about this is that the libraries usually work through a company like Overdrive which allows them to get 8 copies of popular books, and then reduce the number of copies as demand slacks off, and move those copies to newer or more popular titles.

That means instead of there being exactly one book in the inventory, there may be 3 or 8.

Re:Why NOT bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867915)

Still, why bother having the building at all? Set up a website, allow a book to be checked out by x number of people at a time, the rest wait in line.

Re:Why NOT bother? (-1, Troll)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#45868001)

Except reality doesn't work that way. Those wacky rights-holders still expect to be paid for content. Whoda thunk it?

REALITY?! What actual the fuck? Seriously? YOU are so detached from reality it's insane. Allow me to demonstrate:

Study some Information Theory. So, a mechanic creates a new configuration of information in the placement of parts and state of your vehicle. Now he has a 70 year beyond his death copyright on the work he's performed in the vehicle space, and the repair technique can't be duplicated by anyone else without paying royalties. First sale doctrine allows you to sell your car, but DMCA prevents you from removing the coin-slot you must feed before starting the vehicle. In reality there is no distinction between the information created by the mechanic or the symbolic information created by writers, media producers, etc. The mechanic may even have to machine parts -- Not like the writer has to invent paper.

I just know that the cognitive dissonance is strong in folks like you, but consider, just for a split second, that authors should get paid once to do the work of writing a book... Just like a mechanic gets paid for the work they do once. Neither author or mechanic needs any monopoly rights after the work is created because they have an unlimited monopoly over the work they do before they do it. That's how they can leverage payment agreements for the work they'll do. Afterwards the benefit from the work is unbounded, and enriches drivers and readers lives. Also, if they want to get paid more, they'll have to create more works! Thus giving the workers incentive to do work. Bonus, since there would be no artificial scarcity, there would be no piracy.

Or, if you suck at economics 101 (infinite supply = zero price regardless of cost to create), and are more scientifically minded: Prove that Copyrights are beneficial for society. Don't forget to test the null hypothesis: Copyrights are not required to benefit society (which must be disproven more thoroughly than the original hypothesis is proven, otherwise it's accepted by default). No fair ignoring Automotive and Fashion industries which have no copyrights or design patents and yet sell primarily on design -- And are very profitable, "Whoda thunk it?"

In short: Artificial Scarcity is economically untenable, and you have no evidence to support your beliefs about information licensing.

Re:Why NOT bother? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#45867859)

while paper books actually do have some advantages...most libraries do not carry multiple copies of that book. A major advantage here is that every one of their readers can have the exact same book on it at the exact same time so 12 people in 12 households can all enjoy it at the same time.

Well not necessarily. Libraries still have to buy ebooks. Just like regular books. They can only afford so many, and can't lend out more than that.

Most libraries subscribe to something like Overdrive, and actual house no ebook infrastructure themselves. (Madam librarian does not usually possess the computer skilz to do handle this). Overdrive keeps track of the lending, due dates, copies out, waiting lists, total copies owned, etc).

Really, the internet has reached 89% of US households, either via broadband, dial up, or wireless.

Subscriptions that don't cover remote access (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#45867189)

If I wanted to read the Internet, I could stay home.

And lose access to the paywalled resources to which your library subscribes for use within its facilities.

Re:Subscriptions that don't cover remote access (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 months ago | (#45867199)

> And lose access to the paywalled resources to which your library subscribes for use within its facilities.'

Which is exactly WHAT for a municipal library?

This isn't some college library and is likely far less interesting in any way you could mention.

InfoTrac (2)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#45867273)

Which is exactly WHAT for a municipal library?

In the early 1990s, students at my middle school were required to make a speech about a controversial topic based on research. A common method for this was to use the "InfoTrac" system on the catalog terminals to select, preview, and print articles. Another was the "SirS" binders.

Re:InfoTrac (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#45867291)

My local library (rural Alaska) has Science Citation Index, Lexus / Nexus and subscriptions to a number of 'high impact' science journals. Is it the University of Washington? Nope. But if offers some access to citizens who happen not to be adjunct professors or whatever.

Re:InfoTrac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867351)

Sorry to nitpick, but it is LexisNexis - not high-end cars + google phones.

Re:Subscriptions that don't cover remote access (2)

dasunt (249686) | about 7 months ago | (#45867623)

Which is exactly WHAT for a municipal library?

At my library, it's too numerous to list them all.

If you're looking for access to historical records, or modern journals, research, etc, you should check out your local library's digital content.

Re:Why bother (2)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#45867815)

If I wanted to read the Internet, I could stay home. Print on paper is an utterly different experience. You know -- Tactile, spatial (how far into the book you are, what side of the page) -- not to mention, you can slip bookmarks into pages, photocopy them, and pass them around between several people.

When I check half a dozen books out of the library, I read one, I pass it along to Mom while she's reading another, and to Dad, and my brother... How do you propose doing that with a bunch of e-books?

And buggy whips are a whole lot better experience than stepping on the accelerator. (except for the horse)

Come on, waxing eloquent about past has been a tired cliche since the Pleistocene.

Books are heavy, cumbersome to hold, impossible to operate with one hand, subject to wear and tear, and take up a whole bunch of room.

As for the passing along of ebooks, its easy. Since you all read the same books, put all your e-readers on the same account. Done.
I seldom take more than one book out of my library at once, because I do it on the e-reader, and can return it and have another in about 26 seconds. But of I'm going on vacation and won't be near wifi, I can download a couple dozen. (I've got three months worth of purchased reading on the ereader at any one time).

Granted, Books are better when there are maps involved, (history books), or extensive cross referencing needed, but for most reading ebooks are just fine, and you can hold the reader in one hand, and fit it in your pocket.

Pick any E-reader and try it out. they are getting dirt cheap. Get one that can borrow from your local library, as well as any library where you can get a library card. And also access all the free ebook sites (there are dozens).

Ok, I'm getting off your lawn.

Re:Why bother (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867947)

Oh, do fuck off with this luddism meme. It has nothing to do with dislike for progress and everything to do with e-readers only duplicating a subset of the paper reading experience while having their own set of disadvantages.

For some people, e-readers are good enough. For many other people, e-readers are entirely deficient. Just because they're sold as a replacement it doesn't meant they are a replacement. Just because they fit your use cases it doesn't mean they fit everyone's use cases. Just because you enjoy e-readers it doesn't mean everyone else enjoys e-readers.

And, if modern civilisation goes the way of every other civilisation and dies off, I know where all the salvageable information will be.

Re:Why bother (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867299)

One can be very well-read nowadays without ever laying hands on dead trees.

But how many well-read people never wipe their ass? ;)

Re:Why bother (1)

Garridan (597129) | about 7 months ago | (#45867561)

I never bother; I'm too busy turning pages.

Re:Why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867647)

Dunno, got a bidet.

Re:Why bother (1)

khasim (1285) | about 7 months ago | (#45867363)

I'm more concerned with DRM. And the concept that you do not "own" media any more. You just "rent" it.

A library can lend a physical book thousands of times for just the price of the book.

Once you get into digital media, the publisher can demand a payment per check-out.

Re:Why bother (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 7 months ago | (#45867747)

You're confusing medium with content. Physical books are not important in themselves - it's the content within them that's important, and that does not have to be tied to a particular medium. One can be very well-read nowadays without ever laying hands on dead trees.

e-books are also easier to scrub of offensive information like evolution. Very important in Texas.

Re:Why bother (2)

arobatino (46791) | about 7 months ago | (#45867009)

Exactly. If the content is available digitally, they should put up a website like Open Library [openlibrary.org] so people anywhere in the world can access it.

Only one county's property tax base (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#45867213)

That works well for pre-1923 works but not for anything newer because publishers demand to derive revenue from patrons' use of the works. For example, a publisher might sell a 26-pack of two-week rentals [about.com] for a particular e-book to a county library, and the county library doesn't want to "waste" these rentals on people who happen not to live within the area that pays property tax to the county that funds the library.

Re:Why bother (4, Informative)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 7 months ago | (#45867027)

The computers at libraries such as this one seem to be quite a useful public service. Every time I go to my local public library, the computers are mostly all in use. They provide Internet access for people who can't afford it themselves, notably people who are out of a job and need to fill out a job application online, as is now commonly required.

Re:Why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867079)

Starbucks or McDonalds won't have you arrested for failure to return their coffee after your done with it with a max retention time of X! They probably even prefer that you do not. So there is some difference besides being much noisier. If you do return your coffee there, you better make sure no one steals your "Library Book" while your in their "deposit returns room" or you might go to jail.

Re:Why bother (5, Interesting)

ranton (36917) | about 7 months ago | (#45867119)

A library without books is... pointless.

A library which focuses primarily on books is ... almost pointless.

Libraries are there to help improve the general level of education of the nearby population. Storing and lending books were by far the most important functions of libraries when books were the primary source of information in our culture. That is not even close to true anymore. I spend over $200 per month on books at Amazon each month, so I am a heavy reader, but I still consume most information online. And I was a holdout when it came to getting an e-reader, but over half of my book reading is now done on my iPad. In fact the reason I finally bought an iPad last year is because I found myself reading books from my phone far more often than reading paper books, and I wanted a better form factor.

Like it or not, the Internet is a better source of most information now. So libraries need to adapt to that in order to perform their function as education centers. That means more real estate for computers and less for books. With less emphasis on books libraries can also focus on more personal relationships with the community. I go to about five lectures at my local library per year and find them very interesting. I think other services like tutoring and job skill training make a lot of sense in modern libraries as well. I know my local library has many classes each season such as basic accounting, how to appeal your real estate assessment, computer training, etc. These are all far more important than renting out books IMHO.

Re:the Internet is a better source? (4, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 months ago | (#45867339)

Okay, time to bring up a new topic.

I completely disagree that the internet is a "better source". It's a stunning *complementary source*. But books (medium, to be discussed later) are the exclusive domain of a ton of "long form content" with certain types of structure that don't really exist per se in the internet.

The big elephant in the room I still don't see really taken seriously is ... Print On Demand.

Clearly if someone has the digital file en masse for these kinds of e-libraries, then it's "not hard" to POD it. Then people could get their cumulative favorite 100 "tree books", but the library doesn't have to stock the massive 30,000 item collection with Long Tail problems.

POD is here. *Five years ago* the Hardvard book store had a prototype (cover art rights issues, sure) that produced books as solid as anything done by the pros "in about an hour".

But I'm amazed that no one is constructively talking about POD in these "future of books" discussions, even at the risk on the store side of the big chains folding. (ProTip - why would I even order from amazon if I could get my copy in my hand at lunch?)

Re:the Internet is a better source? (4, Interesting)

ranton (36917) | about 7 months ago | (#45867501)

The big elephant in the room I still don't see really taken seriously is ... Print On Demand.

Once you have standardized page size and other challenges inherent with POD, you might as well just be downloading an e-book. Cost may be an issue for e-readers today, but you already can get some pretty damn cheap e-readers if you are willing to buy something other than the big name brands. So if you are talking about the future of books, not just trends over the next 5-10 years, it is most likely going to be incredibly cheap color e-ink tablets that most books are read from.

No one knows the future for sure, so perhaps POD will have its place, but I find it doubtful.

I completely disagree that the internet is a "better source". It's a stunning *complementary source*. But books (medium, to be discussed later) are the exclusive domain of a ton of "long form content" with certain types of structure that don't really exist per se in the internet.

I didn't mean to say that the internet is a better source for all information. My rationalle for calling it a better source was simply that it is a better source for most of the information people need. I am easily in the top 5% of physical book purchasers for personal consumption in the developed world (probably top 1%), but even I realize that most of the time I need to learn something I do not turn to books (either physical or e-books). They are for highly specialized content and for reference information that has not yet been posted online (which is more and more rare as the years go on). And for novels, if you are into that kind of thing, but those transition to e-books even better than the non-fiction books I read.

Re:Why bother (5, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | about 7 months ago | (#45867433)

A library without books is... pointless.

A library which focuses primarily on books is ... almost pointless.

Libraries are there to help improve the general level of education of the nearby population. Storing and lending books were by far the most important functions of libraries when books were the primary source of information in our culture. That is not even close to true anymore. I spend over $200 per month on books at Amazon each month, so I am a heavy reader, but I still consume most information online. And I was a holdout when it came to getting an e-reader, but over half of my book reading is now done on my iPad. In fact the reason I finally bought an iPad last year is because I found myself reading books from my phone far more often than reading paper books, and I wanted a better form factor.

Like it or not, the Internet is a better source of most information now. So libraries need to adapt to that in order to perform their function as education centers. That means more real estate for computers and less for books. With less emphasis on books libraries can also focus on more personal relationships with the community. I go to about five lectures at my local library per year and find them very interesting. I think other services like tutoring and job skill training make a lot of sense in modern libraries as well. I know my local library has many classes each season such as basic accounting, how to appeal your real estate assessment, computer training, etc. These are all far more important than renting out books IMHO.

The problem with a library full of e-books currently is the licensing, which the 'article' unhelpfully doesn't discuss at all. Libraries buy books and they own them. Or people can donate books and then the library owns them. You don't own an e-book, you license it. Most licenses for ebooks for libraries go on a per-checkout model where the library has to pay for each checkout. Suddenly the library isn't a place where you can buy a book, read it once, donate it to the library, and support them that way.

If the library owns the books, then they have a collection, and that collection is a community asset. If the library has to pay for each checkout, I feel that any donation is just subsidizing poor/cheap people's amazon ebook purchases. You can't donate ebooks to the library so all this money has to come from taxes/cash donations. Ultimately at that point the library is an expensive internet cafe and a place taxpayer money is funneled into Amazon in an inefficient way.

Re:Why bother (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 7 months ago | (#45867993)

If a library costs $1.5m more to build and probably tens of thousands of dollars per year more to maintain with shelving and cataloging etc then you can afford to take that $1.5m put it into a trust and probably pay the entirety of your annual licensing fees out of the trust's Capitol Gains.

Checking out a book costs a library about $0.50 per checkout. And a hardback book costs about $27. The average checkouts per year for a book is 23. That means a library per hardback book pays $11.50 per year per book in checkout expenses even if it was donated but if we assume a book has a 4 year life then the life cost of a physical book is $46. W/ the hardback book costs added in it becomes more like $73. With some estimates of replacements only every 2 years that would increase to nearly $100.

An average ebook for a library is about $75. That's pretty comparable to 3 years of physical book expenses. If you bought e-books with your $1.5m in infrastructure savings fund (Let's say 8% return) then you would be looking at 1,600 new e-books every year added to your 'collection' for free. I doubt the average library gets 1,600 new physical books donated every year. In 3 years when you would be re-buying many of your physical books your e-book library would have an additional 4,800 books.

You commit the fallacy of believing that physical assets don't depreciate and need replacement over time.

Re:Why bother (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 7 months ago | (#45867141)

A library without books is... pointless. Why not just build a Starbucks or a McDonalds. Or, actually, an empty room. What a waste.

Not at all. Libraries are only superficially about books. What they are really about is knowledge and that comes in many forms. That's why libraries have music and films too and why they are starting to include makerspaces. [makeitatyourlibrary.org]

My concern with something like this is that some libraries are swayed by the arguments for DRM. But there is the beginning of a movement for libraries to crowd traditional publishers out of their niche [smashwords.com] which should mean DRM is completely out of the picture in those cases.

Re:Why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867155)

A real library with physical books allows you to legally read copyrighted books at no cost. A macdonalds or starbucks or other plain old internet connection does not.

I'm not sure where the bookless library in the TFA stands on this, as I have not, of course, actually read TFA, but it is potentially different from just an internet connection.

Re:Why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867233)

it is easier to censor books, only a click away.

Makes Sense (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45866959)

Every time I've visited a library in the UK all the users are just browsing Facebook or playing games on the computers, or lending out DVDs of Hollywood movies. Cutting out the books entirely would seem like a sensible move because nobody seems to read them.

Re:Makes Sense (2)

justthinkit (954982) | about 7 months ago | (#45867121)

My trip to the library to pick up books takes all of two minutes. Go in, pick up holds, check them out, leave. Facebook dude is there for who knows how long. No comparison.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 7 months ago | (#45867475)

Facebook dude is there for who knows how long. No comparison.

Yeah, well. That's just, like your opinion, man.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

mendax (114116) | about 7 months ago | (#45867329)

Cutting out the books entirely would seem like a sensible move because nobody seems to read them.

I beg to differ. I have an e-book reader given to me as a gift stuffed with free e-books of works in the public domain. Yet, I hardly ever use it because I prefer to read paper books. There are many people who use the stacks in a traditional library; you just never seem to notice them. My sister is one of them. She reads about 100 books a year, all novels, all traditional books from the local library.

Re:Makes Sense (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 7 months ago | (#45867575)

Yea, verily.

I like to wander the stacks, looking for unusual shape books, interesting covers... pull a book out, read a few random paragraphs in the middle, maybe peek at the beginning or end, leaf through looking for photos and illustrations... How would you browse that way with a database of e-books?

Yay or shiver....? (1)

KitFox (712780) | about 7 months ago | (#45866963)

As the owner of enough paper books to burn down a small invading zombie army, I'm really torn between applauding their innovation and cringing at the thought that paper in hand will be going the way of scrolls.

Interesting Concept (1)

Jagungal (36053) | about 7 months ago | (#45866977)

It is actually an interesting concept. Many Libraries that I am involved with in a support role are struggling to find a place in a modern world where the majority of people have the information that they need at their finger tips. People just do not visit Libraries in the way they used to.

They are often now becoming a community service operation for the disadvantaged and often have more people using the internet than people actually borrowing books but even then the level of visitation makes it hard to justify them staying open.

Re:Interesting Concept (1)

mendax (114116) | about 7 months ago | (#45867349)

It is actually an interesting concept. Many Libraries that I am involved with in a support role are struggling to find a place in a modern world where the majority of people have the information that they need at their finger tips. People just do not visit Libraries in the way they used to.

They are often now becoming a community service operation for the disadvantaged and often have more people using the internet than people actually borrowing books but even then the level of visitation makes it hard to justify them staying open.

Indeed, the last time I was in a library was to use one of their meeting rooms to meet with friends to discuss some crazy idea one of them had for a startup. It was on a Sunday afternoon and the library was inundated with people, people carrying books as well as DVD's and CD's. Libraries are more than simply a place to find books and get information. They have tried to become a place which can be considered to be the center of the local community.

Theft by Conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45866983)

> A new state law in Texas defines the failure to return library books as theft.

It already is. Theft by Conversion [legalmatch.com] .

Borrowing books (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 7 months ago | (#45866985)

I used to borrow books from my library. Will they lend me e-readers or tablets?

Re:Borrowing books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867039)

I used to borrow books from my library. Will they lend me e-readers or tablets?

According to the summary, they do.

Re:Borrowing books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867041)

Yes

Re:Borrowing books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867053)

No, they lend e-books, like most libraries nowadays.
Meaning the books are DRMed so the checkout expires.

What good will it do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867147)

What good will it do? You obviously can't read.

Re:Borrowing books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867981)

I used to borrow books from my library. Will they lend me e-readers or tablets?

Yes, they will. That's the fucking point.

Problems Will Arrive Soon (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 months ago | (#45866987)

So far there doesn't appear to be a problem with returning checked out e-readers.

Give it time, the place just opened. Broken, missing, and outdated readers will become an issue. Replacement cost of broken, worn-out, and technologically obsolete readers will be a major continuing cost, and throwing people in jail who lose/break them and can't afford the replacement cost will become a political issue.

Also, I wonder if the library will get any financial return from the user data that will almost certainly make its way to Amazon and B&N?

Wasn't this one of the background stories in "Robot and Frank"? I'ts not an idea I like. For me, reading is more than having access to the collection of words, reading a book is an experience I enjoy. There are probably many reasons, but I'm not a psychologist...

Re:Problems Will Arrive Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867107)

Ebook readers are available for as little as 49€ in Europe. That's not so much more than a good, ordinary book (well, lets say two or three books). The average reader would borrow two or three books, but will now carry only one device, and with a cover the device is more stable than a normal book. I don't think this will be a major problem. Also, not every customer will need a device, as some might have their own reader already.

Both the reader and the copyright licenses (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#45867241)

Ebook readers are available for as little as 49€ in Europe. That's not so much more than a good, ordinary book (well, lets say two or three books). The average reader would borrow two or three books, but will now carry only one device

But now the library has to pay both the maker of reader devices and the publishers of post-1922 books (or in your case, books with at least one author who died post-1943).

Re:Both the reader and the copyright licenses (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#45867319)

Talk to a librarian about the cost of replacing popular dead tree books. It's significant. Will it be more or less than e readers? Hard to know. But some libraries spend upwards of 10% of their budget replacing books (number obtained from a conversation with a local librarian, YMMV).

HarperCollins imposes a 26-loan cap (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#45867361)

Publishers have started to configure digital restrictions management for e-books to "wear out" after being lent 26 times. See articles on About [about.com] , BoingBoing [boingboing.net] , and The Digital Shift [thedigitalshift.com] .

Re:Both the reader and the copyright licenses (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 months ago | (#45867579)

Talk to a librarian about the cost of replacing popular dead tree books. It's significant. Will it be more or less than e readers?

I check out popular books that were purchased in the 1970 and 80's at my library all the time. Sure, many of the trashy popular fiction titles will need to be replaced during the period of their limited popularity, but a quality made book will last many years in a public library.

Re:Both the reader and the copyright licenses (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 7 months ago | (#45867719)

There's an unfortunate factor that paper nostalgites are not taking into account: books bought by your library are no longer forever, even when they don't get checked out enough times to wear out. Shelf space costs money just as it does in a store, and so my local library deaccessions a load of books yearly to make room for more. If all books were files on servers, there would be mo need to destroy the past (and it's all backed up at the NSA!)

Re:Both the reader and the copyright licenses (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about 7 months ago | (#45867973)

It's going to cost way more to replace the e-readers than it does to fix/replace books. For one thing, repairing an e-reader is almost impossible and, even when it can be done, costs about half as much, or more, as buying a new one. Books, however, can be rebound and repaired to a decent extent before they need replacement. E-readers are also way more fragile than books. Show me even one e-reader that can be dropped from 5 feet, pushed off a desk, thrown into a backpack, dropped again, have a stack of junk (pencils, other books, water bottles, etc.) dropped onto it without breaking and I'll eat my hat. And don't forget the chargers for these things. The cords will break and the chargers will go missing like crazy.

The only reason this idea might work is because Texas now sees it fit to classify failure to return a library book or e-reader as a crime! I'm sure that throwing people in jail for failing to return library books will be a great help to society.

Re:Problems Will Arrive Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867137)

You're chasing at shadows. There is no reason to believe an e-reader device with internet browsing will not be able to last 3-5 years even without further updates. The tech is still young and still playing catch-up with what it could be, but the publishing industry is not moving that fast. Udpates to DRM may come, they may not. Words on a screen are not that hard to capture after all no matter what you try to do to them.

Replacing devices due to damage or theft is much more of a concern, you are exactly right. For all we know though, as a non-traditional library there may be some kind of fee collected for checking these out as they are not media, but devices. There may also be insurance for them as devices instead of media too. A lot of details are not in the article cause its mostly a puff-piece.

10,000 books? (3, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 7 months ago | (#45866999)

" BiblioTech purchases its 10,000-title digital collection for the same price as physical copies, but the county saved millions on architecture because the building's design didn't need to accommodate printed books."

10,000 books? WTF? Even if they're sloggy PDF files at 5 megs each, that's only 50GB of books. You could fit that on a USB Key. I have 60,000 books on a drive. They're assembled as a collection in Calibre, and then indexed in Dropout. I can get any piece of data I want from them. My Personal Portable Library five times larger and thousands of times more useful than BiblioTech. What a pathetic piece of crap.

There are plenty of online book sharing sites with millions of books available. For Free. Assemble your library NOW before the authorities shut it all down by force, or the neoliberal fuquads running the tech companies make it impossible by altering the direction of technology (dumb datapads hooked to private clouds is the first step...)

Re:10,000 books? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867031)

But you still don't have as many books on biblical numerism, young earth creationism, intelligent design or signs that the rapture is coming as the library in tx.

Re:10,000 books? (2)

etash (1907284) | about 7 months ago | (#45867035)

care to provide one such link for a site will millions of (free) books available (other than project gutenberg) - preferrably with the possibility to for batch downloading the whole archive ? and no I don't mean a LMGTFY link

Re:10,000 books? (-1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 7 months ago | (#45867061)

libgen

Re:10,000 books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867077)

The first rule of [pirate site] is don't talk about [pirate site].

Re:10,000 books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867111)

Nice try, Mr. Publisher.

Re:10,000 books? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#45867407)

Well, archive.org for one. The US National Archives for special topics.

But why "other than project gutenberg?" Project Gutenberg as 4x as many books as this "library" claims to have.

Re:10,000 books? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 7 months ago | (#45867453)

I totally agree with the parent, the collection size is pathetic. I have >6,000 physical books I personally own, and they fit in a spare bedroom with room for a desk and about 20 computers on two bakers racks in it, along with several filing cabinets.

The reading experience on eReaders is shit (I say this having worked on 3 of them, if you include the iPad), title selection is limited to things available as eBooks which leaves out almost everything that isn't pablum or that didn't come off copyright pre Sonny Bono "Save The Mouse For Disney!" copyright extensions (0 books come off copyright and enter the public domain in 2014), and it's trivially easy to both track reading habits, and to engage in censorship fairly instantly (think Snapchat for politically "inconvenient" books).

This is just a really, really stupid idea. Excuse me now, I have to get back to building my EMP Gun Kit that I bought online.

Re:10,000 books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867905)

How are you compensating the authors and publishers to motivate more books being written in the future? I think you are shutting down the book publishing business while the authorities are trying to keep it going.

I fail to understand (1)

Xeno-Root (2914175) | about 7 months ago | (#45867037)

Why do we continue to put up with this ridiculous artificial scarcity system.

Re:I fail to understand (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | about 7 months ago | (#45867187)

Well, to be fair, there is really only an artificial scarcity of free ebooks.

I think it is reasonable to assume that letting every library lend an infinite number of copies of every book would put a damper on sales, effectively making the ebook market into a 'donations only' market overnight.

I haven't kept up, what is current thinking on how effective donation based selling is for ebook authors?

Re:I fail to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867723)

Why aren't you required to buy a buggy whip when you renew your car registration?
Technology has changed. It doesn't make sense to pretend that it hasn't.

Why doesn't netflix do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867055)

Honest question. Their streaming service lacks a lot of movies and it seems they are always hanging on deals for it.

Why don't they take their vast DVD library and just stream 1 movie for every copy of DVD they have?

If that's illegal, why not build an array of BR/DVD players that can access the movies like some giant redbox machine and stream it that way?

Either way, they could greatly expand their offerings. I'd love to see this legalized, as I'm worried about the future of digital only content if it's illegal to build public libraries around them.

MP3.com... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 months ago | (#45867935)

I'm pretty sure this isn't done is due to the example the RIAA made of MP3.com. MP3.com was doing a decent business, but then they offered downloading/streaming if a user put in a CD and their software verified it.

They were utterly destroyed by the RIAA in short order.

I don't think any other companies want to try to dip their toes into that water after that.

colossal waste of money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867059)

Using iMacs and iPads for this purpose is a colossal waste of money; much simpler and cheaper tech would be more than sufficient for any sort of library.

And is this needed at all? You can get tablets for less than $100, and most literature and content worth reading is already free. Why are tax dollars wasted on creating fancy designer environments?

Dangerously non-redundant and retconnable (0)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 7 months ago | (#45867065)

Not a bad idea, except: * A physical book, once printed, needs no further infrastructure to exist. I can read "Steam Plant Operation" by candlelight after I've been thrown back in time to 1300 with an undead army out for my blood. * DRM will be implemented in some way, so the ebook readers will depend on an external server, which may go down or be inaccessible for a number of physical or financial reasons. * It is too easy to retcon books or newspaper articles that way. If I go retrieve an NY Times about Snowden, where he is called a whistleblower, who is to say that six years from now Steven Harper won't be President and mandate retroactive editing "whistleblower" to "traitor"? Stereotypically Orwellian, yes, but a lot easier to implement with ebooks. Start innocuous, say by replacing "nigger" with "zombie" in Huckleberry Finn, and... The right way to do this? Do everything in pdf or similar format, with the ereaders connected to a local file server and the ability to use the ereader's memory as cache. I doubt they will be doing that.

What's more surprising... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867087)

... is choosing a french word for the name in Texas.

Re:What's more surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867519)

The world is always surprised that how few Texans are running around in cowboy boots and hats too. Or that the vast majority of them are relatively poor. Certainly not oil barons and cattle kings. Of the six national flags that have flown over Texas, one of them was that of France. Also, just like Texas's neighbor Louisiana, Cajuns and Creoles etc are part of their residents. Of course many would have to look those people up to even begin to consider who they are. It might help a bit if you researched things like the Louisiana purchase details and the history of the French in North America before and after that as well as in how claims involving it relative to those of the claimed borders of Mexico around the same times. And that is just to start things. You might be interested in the Pope's behind the scenes control of the Kingdom of France etc too.

huh? (0)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 7 months ago | (#45867117)

Over the long-haul, more electricity is going to be used by these libraries than ordinary libraries, costing more per month than others. Money to pay IT professionals is another thing to consider, as well as the costs associated with e-readers needing to be replaced. Not to mention the fact that there's no benefit in having an electric library - oh wait, yeah... no shelves. Pffft.

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867367)

Increased energy use by the library will be far more than compensated by decreased energy use by patrons driving to/from the library --- a huge net win in the big picture (with the benefits spread to the public, even if library budgets go up). Saving just a little bit of driving (especially for dozens or hundreds of visitors a day) will offset far more energy use than a couple extra servers.

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867525)

You're trying to preach logic to slashtards. Nerds, programmers, and parodoxically, the most luddite internet population out there.

Another brick in the fag rewrite of knowledge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867127)

“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”
  George Orwell, 1984

deprecating the american library. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 7 months ago | (#45867181)

this if anything is 'embrace extend extinguish' on the part of private industry. According to policy, e-books get a 14 day maximum checkout and devices in the library have a 60 minute time limit. you can check out a maximum of 5 e-books, with 1 renewal only per item.
My library on the other hand permits me to check out 50 real books at a time, with a 31 day checkout time. I can renew my checkouts 3 times and if i accidentally lose or damage a book, the replacement cost is significantly less expensive than a new $200 e-reader. I also get to read a real book as long as I goddamn well want to in the library and unlike the e-reader once ive checked out a book, my library cant kick in my door and steal the book back if its determined im for some reason not permitted to read the book after the fact. The readers contents one presumes are just as dynamic as if id purchased one from amazon.

I dont need to charge my library books either..

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867219)

I've not been since 1995 "the year I got internet"

Texans can read? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867417)

Not the ones I have known.

If you want to simplify it further (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867499)

The bookless libraries could also be merged with various homeless shelters within local communities. Libraries these days are largely patronized by homeless bums who want to watch porn on the internet.

Falls short in one critical public library job: (2)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#45867505)

Preservation of information for future generations, and conversely providing information generated past generations to the present.

I can walk into my nice, but hardly cutting edge public library and look up my hometown paper's front page for December 8, 1941 and read about the reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack. I can look for science fiction books published in the 1950s by publishers that have gone out of business. I can find strange, but interesting books that have never been digitized and are very hard to find, like a military history of the bicycle written in the 1960s.

If I go to a *world class* library, like the main branch of the Boston Public Library, I can examine rare manucripts, maps and sheet music, although they have been making an effort to digitize that stuff. If I needed a service manual for a fifty year-old TV set, this is the first place I'd look.

I can understand going primarily ebook for a community that can't afford a real library, but even such a library needs stacks where it preserves books of local interest for future generations. Given that they've given up physical books and all the associated expenses, 10,000 books seems like an awfully thin collection to me.

FYI: Bear, not Bexar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867521)

Bexar county is pronounced "Bear" county. Didn't want anybody to sound ignorant.

the international one is called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867697)

Pirate Bay, you can check out and leave :)

Good Idea on Paper, Horrid Execution (3, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | about 7 months ago | (#45867767)

Like most libraries, our local [bibliocommons.com] has embraced all manner of e-technology. Although the vast majority of users still prefer 'real books," they also offer e-books, e-reader loans, music downloads, and audiobook downloads, as well as access to a large group of databases.

As an end user I'd call most of this a disaster. Books are simple - you sign it out, take it home, and renew it until you're done reading it. If someone else needs the book they can place a hold, and you can't renew it any more. If you need a book not on the shelf you can place a hold.

I had been using them for audiobooks to listen to in the car on my Android phone. This worked great except that pretty much the only company servicing Canadian libraries is Overdrive [overdrive.com] , and their software is bar none the worst that I've encountered.

Still, it was just usable enough that despite the really poor selection of audiobooks, the limited number of "copies available", the lack of any way to renew books, and the really, really, really horrid interface on either PC or phone, I could live with it.

This year Overdrive updated their software, with a new added "feature": you could no longer limit downloads to WIFI. Or even pause a download in progress. As a consequence one ill-timed audiobook download consumed my entire month's cel phone data cap in less than a day.

I deleted it, and let my library know that I was using Pirate Bay from here on - faster, easier, better selection, and no chance of getting hammered with data overage charges.

Beyond that it's pretty well known that publishers define an e-book as only being downloadable for a few dozen times - alleging that this replicates the physical life of an actual book. It's an obvious lie, and ignores the longstanding practices of rebinding and repairing books - something that libraries have done for many decades.

Our library has a pretty remarkable section of CDs on loan, and actually has surprised me many times with the stuff that they have on the shelves. The downloadable music offering Freegal [freegalmusic.com] lets you grab a grand total of THREE songs per month. DRM free, but kind of useless.

At the end of the day I wish that our library would go back to lending physical artifacts - the restraints on them by the publishers makes any attempt to provide e-content pretty much impossible.

A legit question (3, Insightful)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 7 months ago | (#45867841)

Is there a way to determine that the ebook has not been altered?

I can think of several places where groups of people would like to control the information, and many who would do it if they could

Many on the Religious right would like to either scrub or reword evolutionary and or biological references. Physics and astronomy texts are a little suspect also.

Many on the industrial right would want to alter, remove references research in Greenhouse gas

Many on the left might like to remove non-PC texts

No doubt many groups would find objectionable stuff they would like to change. Any of these groups might like to alter or remove text, and if public bookburning events are any indication, it's pretty pointless to argue that they wouldn't.

Some sort of trusted authority with a massive hashtag listing?

Although I would really enjoy the rewritten stories about Jesus and the founding fathers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and working tirelessly to end slavery.

Re:A legit question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45867927)

The only way that this can be done is have books in print. Without physical access, it will be extremely difficult to alter that. With copies on eBook servers, this can be easy, no matter how good the cryptography present is.

There are a few books where a change will be easily detected. A modification to the Koran will instantly get noticed. However, a change in an obscure book that covered a fairly esoteric topic in World War 1 might be easily changed without anyone ever noticing.

This is unlikely, but in the world of eBooks, how tough would it be to make a backdated history book about some event that never happened, then change a few sentences in mainstream books to refer to that "unassuming" historical event, which never happened?

History has a lot of lessons... lessons that a lot of groups and interests want covered up. China would love to erase from history how it came to own Tibet for example.

I like the idea of cryptographically signing books (with the signatures stored separately), and printing the whole mess out, then storing separate copies in multiple secure locations. Again, not 100%, but it would keep history from being changed just because one eBook provider was sloppy on its security.

Fahrenheit 451 Opening Sequence (1)

cmholm (69081) | about 7 months ago | (#45867887)

Moments after the enabling regulations for the Banning Of Other Known Sources of Sufficiently Unverified Codexes ("BOOKS SUC") Act of 2051 are published, e-book readers across the nation delete all content excepting certain approved technical references. Subsequently, the long work of weeding out the hoarded dead tree editions begins.

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