The digital dilemma of e-books - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

The digital dilemma of e-books


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Tablets are popular devices they make it easier than ever to download the latest digital books.

But not everyone can get their hands on best selling titles.

Those with the greatest problem purchasing new digital books, libraries.

"It's just so much more convenient than having to go down to the library when I can just download the book," says e-book user Susanne Elgar.

That is if your library is able to lend you the book, because right now major publishers are being less than cooperative.

"Don't necessarily want libraries to buy their books and don't offer them to libraries in electronic format.  So some of the best sellers out there aren't available to libraries in electronic format," says Chippewa Falls Public Library Director Virginia Roberts.

E-borrowing is becoming so explosive that more people are putting back the paperbacks and trading them in for iPads and Kindles.  In fact in Wisconsin alone, its grown more than 250% in the past year.

"Being able to look up definitions, bookmarking pages, highlighting things.  That was like playing with a toy really," says Elgar.

But publishers aren't playing around with e-books.

"They're nervous we're going to make copies and pirate their books and that's ridiculous we wouldn't do that," says Roberts.

"I couldn't go 100% e-reading because they're not available.  So if it's something current I can't get it as an e-book, I have to request the paper books," says Elgar.

Actually paper and screen don't make much difference to the library, but to the publisher it's a big deal.

"Harper Collins only allows it to circulate 26 times before it disappears off of our shelves.  You know as opposed to a paper copy which could go for 100 or 200 circulations," says Roberts.

Paper or plastic, each has its own advantages.

"I could not read my e-reader out on the deck, on my iPad that is, with my sunglasses on because they're polarized and you can't see the screen," says Elgar.

The American Libraries Association and a number of states are working with publishers to find a system which allows the library to purchase and own the book, ensuring lenders ample opportunity to read their favorites.

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