Proprietary formats — whether it’s Windows or Mac — are one of the big issues with ebooks and, therefore, ebooks in libraries. Here is one patron’s response to their library system going with Windows Media format ebooks that won’t play on Macs or Linux machines. He worked out a song with a friend: Your Audio Book Sounds Silent to Me [listen to it, it’s short and fun]. Phil works on digital divide and digital minorities generally. I happen to have read his notes about the song the day he also posted Trying to Update this Site from a Computer at a Public Library. Fascinating.
Do you know who is getting the shortest end of this stick? The tenants in affordable housing units in Northern Virginia where GNU/Linux computer labs have been set up for them to use. Many of these tenants are hardworking immigrant families. Could the adults and children in these families benefit from greater access to audio books? You tell me. “Sorry, buster, you’re a digital minority. No audio books for you. Here, let me relieve you of your taxpayer dollars all the same.” How about this for irony — one of the books currently inaccessible? Martin Luther King, Jr., On Leadership: Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times, by Donald T. Phillips. I hear it’s a good book.