Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Does Everything eBook-Related Suck?

Thanks to shallow celebs such as Ashton Kutcher, Twitter has become just about worthless now.

So I signed off it today in moment of fury and decided to soothe my soul by going through the eBook listings at the New York Public Library.

Like every public library, the NYPL is a victim of that metastatic monopoly from OverDrive. Public libraries do not create their own websites and add eBooks they believe will suit their clientele. No. They have no other choice -- thanks to DRM and the cowardice of the dying dinosaurs of print -- than to lease a turnkey system from OverDrive which they gateway through their existing websites.

The OverDrive system is a blight upon the world of eBooks and especially upon the world of public libraries.

All of the search options a good library would offer in its own computerized card catalog (such as the NYPL's own LEO system) aren't present. There is no field to search on "Writer" or "Author," for example. There is the corporate lawyer term "Creator" -- something that must make lifelong and dedicated librarians want to pull out a gun.

The OverDrive system is just so entirely atrociously bad.

And today it reached its nadir.

I decided to browse through the eBook catalog in reverse chronological order, from newest acquisitions backward.

Click = big

Because OverDrive search is such an absolute collection of crap, this is really one of the best methods to actually find things -- by bulk browsing. In a way similar to browsing a physical shelf -- except worse and much slower.

With over 11,000 items, I planned to go through at least one thousand.

OverDrive had another idea:

Click = big

Suddenly I was presented with a page that had absolutely no relation to the search itself! Look at the upper right corner. It's telling me this is an eHolds error.


I'm nowhere near the eHold part of the damned crappy site! I'm in the rotten catalog!

When the hell will the eBook world get its act together?

Fictionwise/eReader has servers that are seemingly powered by dying gerbils.

Sony has a site with its own problems.

Cool-er's eBook store is an object lesson in breathtaking incompetency.

And now this cavalier approach has infected the national circulatory system of knowledge too -- our public libraries!

President Obama should appoint an eBook Czar.

And that should be me.

I'd get it all straightened out.

Even if it meant taking a baseball bat to some overpaid heads!

Get your shit together, dammit.

There is no excuse for what I'm seeing and for what you're subjecting the general public to.


Sticky (just a little) said...

I'm with you. I'm finding it difficult to decide what I want to do with my books. I don't want to go back to print books, but I afraid my Mobipocket library is going to become obsolete. It gets harder and harder to get stuff and I just can't pay $15+ for an ebook...

Cliff Burns said...

Ah, Michael, it's good that we have people like you hanging about, pointing out the stupidity of certain practices and approaches. E-books, e-commerce are still in their nascent stages and I watch with misgivings any attempt by the corporate arena to seize the initiative (DRM) and try to CONTROL ACCESS. Freedom is something I've fought for in my work and my work life for a quarter of a century. I do not want others telling my readers how to find/download my book or what format they must employ. That's between me and them and one of the reasons that e-publishing attracted me in the first place: it broke the monopoly of the gate-keepers and put me in DIRECT CONTACT with the reading public. If that changes, I'm out...

shayera said...

I absolutely don't disagree with you. I can't even begin to tell you how often I have to help patrons wrestle with overdrive every week. Let's say it's at least 3 times a week.
The ebook market is supremely frustrating as it is.

Brent said...

MyiLibrary from Ingram Digital is so much better than OverDrive. It was built with ACRL's in mind, but it is picking up steam in the public library market, too, since partnering with Ingram Library Services. They've got Audio, too, that puts OD to shame. Great platform, superior content.