Monday, September 15, 2014

Reading Arizona | Biblioboard

A bit of technology I find fascinating is the ability to locate people based on the location of the device they're using.  So you can, for example, make collections just for people in a location that would be interested in them.  Which is what Arizona did with Reading Arizona.

The earliest posts on the Reading Arizona Wordpress blog are from March 2014, and talk about how, in 2012, a group of librarians formed a working group to try to meet the growing demand for eContent.

By May, they had announced that the State Library had signed an agreement with Bibliolabs to launch an Arizona-specific collection of eBooks.  Both the State Library and Biblioboard would work to collect materials (from the state archives, and a self publishing module), which the State Library will own, and Biblioboard will host.  The service is available through the State Library website, with geolocation access allowing registration from within Arizona.

One of the very cool things I love about their program is the literacy map which shows highlights of Arizona culture and history, ready and waiting to be explored through recommended books.   They also have a book list of titles about Arizona.  I could see something like this really taking off if schools used it for recommended reading in history classes, etc.  All of the content is available for unlimited multiuser access, and patrons may have up to three titles in an off line bookshelf at one time.

I really like what Biblioboard is doing here (and with Massachusetts and North Carolina).  One of my frustrations from the beginning of our eBook project has been how much publishers want to recreate the print world.  I mean, seriously, it's a FILE.  You don't need to have holds lists and checkouts etc etc.  This is exciting - you don't have the same limitations that you would with a physical book.  There's a lot you can do with the technology that you can't do with physical books.  There's still room for licensing (for example, you don't/shouldn't need to "own" 700 copies of 50 Shades of Grey forever. License it while it's hot - no pun intended - and then keep a few copies for archival purposes once everyone's moved on).

But this is scary for publishers, who are still figuring out how to adapt a business model that hasn't fundamentally changed since - well - the printing press?  Inexpensive paperbacks in the 30's?  That's a lot of adapting that needs to happen, and while I applaud Biblioboard for being forward thinking, and I hope that more libraries sign on and support them, I think it's going to be a while before the majority of publishers are happy to give unlimited simultaneous usage to a library.

That being said, I need to take my own advice with this - if enough libraries can show publishers that it's a model that works, and the files are protected and they're getting fairly paid, then in five years they could really be a successful and viable alternative to the services that seem to serve mainly as library outlets for the Big 5 Publishers.

This Publisher's Weekly article about Reading Arizona has some great quotes by Mitchell Davis, one of the founders and Chief Business Officer of Biblioboard.  After each one, I want to go "Yes!  Somebody gets it!"  I just hope enough other people, the people who can spend money, get it too.  Reading Arizona is a great example of a group that does get it, and I wish them lots of success.

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