celebrate ignore recognize National Book Month and welcome the gathering of authors to the Texas Book Festival an opportunity arises to take a fresh look at who might be the ultimate pioneer in the aggregation and delivery of free on demand content.
The neighborhood library.
content i’m currently consuming from the library
Can’t get pumped up about the tired ol’ library? I hear you, but the library offers some nice features for content consumers you may not know about.
First, the humble library card has gotten a makeover. Library customers now get a slimmed down card you can put on your keychain that works kind of like a Mobile Speedpass. In reality the updated library cards do little more than offer a handy place to store a barcode and lack much of the sophistication and technology of the newer proximity card based contactless payment systems. Still, they do a reasonably good job of accomplishing the same ultimate goal – speeding things along and streamlining the checkout process for the customer.
Once you have a membership number and are in the system, the library empowers you to search for and reserve not only books, but DVD’s and CD’s as well via an online system that may look a little familiar to those experienced with the Netflix queue. This works well and the amount of free content available to you is impressive. But unfortunately, just like Netflix, there can sometimes be a wait for some of the more popular titles. If there does happen to be a wait for the title you are looking for the library sends you a notice (which coincidentally is shaped almost exactly like the Netflix DVD mailer) when your content becomes available. Unlike Netflix though you do have to go pick up your content. The good news there is that you can choose which branch you want your content delivered so chances are there is one close to your home, school or work.
If your title is available as an Electronic Book then your delivery is online and often instantaneous. Enjoy audio books? They do that too. And of course, there’s free internet access if you’re in a pinch.
the library has helped me think “big picture” this year
Still not sold? Well, here’s a take on the library that may appeal to the bean counter in you:
Say you’re the type that buys one book every couple of weeks, let’s call it two a month. Ballpark tab TT&L for a new book and your favorite beverage to sip on while browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble or Borders is let’s say $30 US. Do this every couple of weeks and that brings your outlay to about sixty dollars a month.
With that assumption in hand, suppose at the age of 35 you start putting that $60 a month into a stock mutual fund rather than into the BN cash register – and keep doing it till you take a traditional retirement at age 65.
How much additional would you have saved for retirement by going to the library rather than the bookstore?
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t totally abandoned visiting BN or dumped all the Amazon in my 401K. Still, the size of that number does give you something to think about.
But that’s only money. A deeper value can be found in a good book’s ability to inspire, inform and entertain you like no other media. If all this wonderful technology and eye candy that surrounds us has caused you to forget or never experience the power that a one to one connection with an author combined with the theater of your mind can create, you might want to schedule some time for a book in your grey matter Tivo.
content from the library has inspired and entertained me this year
Time will tell whether the current leaders in the delivery of free on demand content will turn out to be the Ben and Andrew of our time, but there does appear to be at least a certain symmetry in the spirit of their aspirations – make as much information and inspiration as possible available to as many people as possible, for free.
And that is something to celebrate.