Library-esque eBook advancement

I came across this little update through AustenBlog of all places: while you are in a Barnes & Noble store, you can have free access to eBooks for an hour at a time.

A lot of the discussion around eBook readers in relation to librarianship and traditional book reading has involved the ability (or inability) to annotate and share, and the place of eBooks in libraries. In that light, this is an interestingly library-esque addition to the Nook capabilities that nonetheless falls short.

For one thing, I’d love to know who decided the 1 hour cut-off…it seems rather arbitrary, unless, perhaps, there’s research that shows fast readers can finish a novel in 2 hours and so a more limited amount of time was in order.

I also wonder what the distribution of books is between B&N stores and their eBook selection. Namely, I’m wondering what the point of this access is if you can only take advantage of it while sitting in the midst of shelves and shelves of books, any one of which a customer can curl up with in one of the armchairs for as long as it takes to finish reading it. This seems like a step in the right direction but still not enough. I don’t expect corporate bookstores to take on the public library function, but even just setting up unlimited access only in a B&N store would better parallel the access to physical books.

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