Digital Underclass Podcast

Last week, after the Amazon announcements, I spoke with ZDNet Senior Technology Editor (and fellow New Jerseyite) Jason Perlow about ebooks, Amazon, and what’s changed in a year since he wrote his original digital underclass piece. You can hear the resulting podcast here; we hit a range of subjects in and around libraries and ebooks in general (including the HarperCollins limited checkout system). Jason is a fun person to talk with, not simply because he is a library supporter, but also that he understands the technology component and limitations that libraries are dealing with at the moment. Take a listen to the podcast when you get a chance.

As I reflect on the current state of eBooks (on the day of that LJ/SLJ eBook Summit, no less), my current inclination is that libraries are waiting for publishers to get their shit together. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean this in a wholly derogatory sense. I mean “get their shit together” in that family vacation sort of sense when the rest of the family has their luggage in the car and are waiting for that last family member to locate and pack their things for the trip. They haven’t completely figured out this eBook thing and they are damn well not ready to go anywhere till they figure it out. The fear of over-packing (or worse, leaving something behind) is effectively leading to decision paralysis; they don’t want to give away too many rights (since those could be potential revenue streams) yet they want to grab an effective market share before their competitors. So, until they figure out what they are taking, we are stuck in the driveway.

Is this an apt metaphor? Or are we waiting for someone else to start this proverbial trip?

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