Finding the right place for e-books

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Every once in a while I discover that a book I’ve downloaded on my Kindle has a beautiful physical cover that I missed out on. Take, for example, The Center of Winter by Marya Hornbacher. Its paperback cover design, which is different from the hardcover book jacket, perfectly reflects the introspective and wrought mood of the narrative. (At least the Kindle application on my Mac shows the hardcover jacket in color.) This week in The Atlantic, Charlotte Strick, an art editor and designer, discusses the process of creating book jacket designs, from literary concept to visual art. She writes, “Even though I frequently have designs for titles from the previous season still on my plate, and just when I think I can't possibly come up with another original idea for a cover, the creative sparks begin to fly.”

Another blogger writes about her more serious frustration with e-books. Karen Ballum talks about MacMillan US’s refusal to distribute e-books through libraries, and Harper Collins’ 26-loans-per-license limit. She stresses that borrowing from libraries does not directly correlate with a lost purchase. Rather, it just increases our access to books in general and may spark more buying. She does not condone pirating, but points out that many who illegally download material do it simply because it’s available and would not necessarily spend money on the item otherwise. Libraries that are already financially strapped will likely buy fewer e-books, and the reader loses.

A middle-school library in Bloomington IL has repurposed its card catalogues, those stained and polished wooden cases that stored a library’s index of holdings. A few holes drilled in the back of the drawers for charger cords, and voilà, the perfect storage for its lendable e-readers.