Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pondering Libraries and their Enemy Within

So I went by my public library this morning to check out a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune, which I read a long time ago and loved, and I wanted to give it another read with a (slightly) more mature perspective.  As I wandered in after my morning walk around the block I noticed for the first time that the children's section takes up almost half the volume of my local library branch.

It's interesting to me how obvious it is to all of us how desireable it is to encourage kids to read.  We'll even go to considerable effort to dress up that part of the library to make it kid friendly:

Taken from this blog which has some other interesting images of children's libraries.
And this is even true when there is absolutely no money to be made directly from this process.  We understand that there is a long term benefit to everyone when we get kids reading books.  This is true even though children's books are big business.

I'm sure you share my outrage that we just let these children waltz on in to a custom tailored environment for their convenience and read books for free, all day long if they want to.  Obviously, this can't go on.  How are we to motivate children's book writers to keep making books?  What about the author's rights?  These kids need to earn their education just like we did.   Well, not like we did, because we didn't earn jack, but let's not get bogged down with details.

Back to my story:  I purchased the book Dune many years ago, and who knows where it is by now.  Naturally I went to get a torrent of it (here it is--but don't blame me when Frank Herbert rolls over in his grave because you got it for free)  but when I downloaded it it was just a really crappy rendering of the book.  Double spaced.  Who wants to read that?  Somebody didn't convert it to mobi format for the Kindle very well.

So I decided to see if maybe my library had it as an e-book and they do--but it's checked out right now.  So I put in a "hold" on the electronic book so that I might be able to "check it out" in a few weeks, even though it is possible to make a million copies of an ebook in under a second, at no cost, and I can even get the torrent right now.

As you can see, adults are not like children--not only do we not need to go to any extra effort to support them reading, but we should stymie it as much as possible with arbitrary software solutions.  Indeed, I see a great future for humans in this scenario, when we let software control them.

What could possibly go wrong?

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