After falling in love with The Curse of Chalion I decided to take Christy Nicholson up on her recommendation that I read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkisigian Saga. It’s not all on e-book, and I was pretty sure I was out of luck. Then I discovered the library had it on audiobook.
The library has MP3 files. I have an iphone. What could be simpler? In a sane world I would download the MP3 files to my phone, listen to them and then delete them when I was finished. But this isn’t a sane world.
Here are the Library’s regrettable steps:
1. Install a piece of Adobe middleware called Overdrive on my computer.
2. Install a piece of Adobe middleware called Overdrive on my iphone.
3. Download the books to the computer.
4. Transfer them to the iphone.
There’s no way to return them early, and so if you finish it your checkout limit is still hampered by the data files.
All this to experience a book. Of course it goes without saying that since the software is from Adobe it’s full of funky glitches that meant I spent almost ninety minutes yesterday on downloading, installing, rebooting and resyncing over and over again…all to no avail. Still no Miles Vorkisigian. Just miles of travel down the road of frustration.
I love libraries. I love everything about them save for a slight distaste for the times when parents use the childrens’ section as a free day care center for their unruly young. Libraries are a gift unparalleled, a staggering trove of experience and knowledge. But man, do they have a ways to go toward finding a way to make electronic lending more accessible. I don’t think this is entirely their fault, of course. Publishers need to eat, too, and so we all are stuck doing these awkward things until someone can find a way to streamline Digital Rights Management with user experience.
The sooner the better. This is one instance where a publisher is losing quite a bit of cash. If I had liked those first two books, odds are I would have bought the audiobooks and ebooks (when available) for the subsequent entries in the series. A conservative estimate would put the cost of that at $240. It’s a long series. Since I couldn’t experience the stories, however, now they can rest assured that I’m not reading their product. Or paying for it.
Speaking of “paying for it”, while I was waiting for one of the iterations of download/restart to cycle through I took a survey about the library’s ebook program. One of the questions was “What do you like about the library’s ebook program?”. Several options were given, one of which was “it’s free”.
Come now. Free? It really chaps me when the library talks about being free. Because I campaigned for the property tax increase 18 years ago when they were revamping the system. I know just how expensive the library is. I continue to support it with donations of time, money and books–although the books are fewer now that I’m locked into Kindle. Libraries aren’t free. Libraries are pre-paid. Maybe if we made a bigger deal about just how much of an investment into a society the library system is, people would take it more seriously. Free or prepaid, it’s still one of the best deals in the universe.