Trouble Contacting Us?

If you tried to use our library’s contact form on February 15th or 16th, you may have had some trouble.  Yesterday, I received an email from JotForm, the service we used to create and host our form.  The email stated that the JotForm.com domain had been suspended by GoDaddy, and proceeded to give instructions on how to get the form up and working again easily.  I must say I was very impressed by the speed at which JotForm users were contacted with a solution to this issue.  In fact, no one had even complained about the form on our site being broken yet!  I am thankful we weren’t one of the users who had upwards of 50 forms to fix, though.

Because the email was vague, my curiosity got the better of me, and I did a bit of research.  As it turns out, GoDaddy was responding to a government order, and JotForm was under investigation by the Secret Service.  Despite my initial panic (what had I gotten the library into?!?), I read on to learn that one of JotForm’s millions of users *might* be using JotForm for a phishing scam.  JotForm was eager to work with the government to resolve the issue, but was put off because “a few days” were needed to review the case.  Meanwhile, those millions of users are stuck finding staff/personal time to fix all of those forms.  My question is, why couldn’t the case have been looked at *before* shutting down an entire domain with no warning, inconveniencing all those people and companies?  I can appreciate the interest in protecting the public from a phishing scam, but the reaction seems a bit like clear-cutting a forest to take care of a single diseased tree.  It also feels a bit like SOPA/PIPA to me.  Is anyone else nervous?

For more on the JotForm story, see this c|net article.

Help Us Fight for E-Book Access

If you saw my previous post about publishers who refuse to sell e-books to libraries, you may remember I encouraged you let them know how you feel about their restrictive policies.  It seems the Librarian in Black had the same idea.  As the Director of the San Rafael Public Library, she has posted the contact information  for those publishers who make their electronic content unavailable to libraries and patrons.  Please join us in the fight to provide access to the bestselling books you want to read, in whichever format you choose to read them.  Thanks for your help!

Why Can’t I Download That Book?

Have you ever tried to download a bestselling novel from the library, only to find it wasn’t even listed catalog?  You can find it in print from the library, but not the electronic version.  What gives?

The short answer is publisher fear.  Some publishers refuse to deal with libraries for fear their profit margin will shrink.  Others impose a variety of restrictions that make purchasing an e-book far more expensive than purchasing a print copy.  For an example, check out this post from Library Journal that explains why our library no longer judges purchasing titles from HarperCollins to be a wise use of taxpayer money.  Still others, such as Penguin, have issues with Amazon, and libraries get caught in the middle.

For an excellent explanation of this convoluted mess, see this summary by the Times Colonist.  Please understand that we, as librarians, would love to be able to purchase all of the e-books that you, our patrons want to read.  We are doing are best to convince publishers that allowing library patrons to borrow their books may stimulate sales, rather than steal them.  If you would like to add your voice, the publishers in question include HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan.  Contact them and let them know what you think about their policies concerning e-books and libraries.

After writing the first draft of this post, I saw an article in Consumer Reports about publishers named above, who are currently under federal investigation for fixing prices on e-books in the US and Europe.  It will be very interesting to see how this plays out…

OverDrive App Updates

For those of you using the OverDrive App to download e-books and audiobooks from the library, get ready for some useful updates.  According to an OverDrive blog post, the following updates are already available for Android, Blackberry, and Windows phone users, and will become available to iOS (iPod, iPad, iPhone) users soon. [edit: early audiobook return for Apple devices became available on 2/17/12.]

Updates in OverDrive Media Console 2.4:

  • Ability to return audiobooks early. (E-books have always had the capacity to be returned early.)
  • Use the dictionary feature to look up words while reading.
  • Use Wikipedia search while reading.

If you already have the OverDrive Media Console app installed on your device, it should update automatically next time it is opened.  If it does not, try downloading the new version from the Android Market or directly from the OverDrive site.

Happy reading!