Cloud End User surveillance & privacy travel

Fancy popping down to the library for a coffee?

British Library with St Pancras Station in the background

Popped in to the British Library for a coffee yesterday en route to a meeting. It’s handily placed next to Kings Cross Station and I had only been there once before when I gave a talk on the likely impact of the DEAct on public intermediaries such as libraries and universities.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the place but it did make me think what will happen when all books are available electronically? In theory people will have much less reason to visit a library, other than for a quick coffee and, in the case of the British library to view some “ancient treasures”. This potentially must go down as a great source of sadness.

I’m probably not a good example though since I don’t usually like to borrow books from a library or anywhere else.  This is because, for those of you unfamiliar with the system, you have to give them back. I’m sorry but online doesn’t cut it for me either. I have to have bookcase lined walls where I can identify old favourites by the colour of the spine. I have kindle on my iPad but have only ever downloaded free, “out of copyright” books – Darwin, Marx, Plato et al. Good stuff I know but they are a better read on paper.

So how will our behaviour towards books change when everything is online? Will an online librarian ask you to turn the music down, or the TV? Ssshhh for kindle’s sake.  Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

5 replies on “Fancy popping down to the library for a coffee?”

Hi Tref,

I totally agree, I’ve tried e-books and kindle but they just don’t give the same relaxing read as a real book. We have a great little library in our village at Welton – I tend to at least borrow some business books from time to time, and they’re always happy to bring books in from different libraries if they don’t have them in stock. No coffee on offer at Welton though… would be a nice touch.


PS: Met Paul Clayton last week and he mentioned your good work at Timico, looks like exciting times 🙂

Have you read Diane Coyle’s (Mrs @ruskin147) Kindle blog entry?
Some interesting arguments.

My 13yo daughter wants a Kindle for her next birthday. She’s a great book reader which is good – so I guess whether it’s electronic or paper based getting people reading can only be a good thing.

NB. My 86yo Dad is also a Kindle (and iPad) fan. The e-ink on the Kindle works well for his eyes.
He has rooms(!) full of books but can now only read electronic text as hand magnifiers etc. aren’t good enough for his eyes 🙁

I haven’t yet warmed to e-readers. Working in the Timico NOC, I am often subjected to much derision from my techie colleagues who cannot believe that I prefer a proper book to a Kindle, and real CDs (gasp) rather than downloaded music. If not for books, CDs and LPs, my house would be rather empty! I do use an iPod, but I buy a CD and import it to iTunes rather than just downloading the content online. I much prefer to have something material for my money rather than something virtual – likewise, if I’m going to pay for a book, I want it in my hands rather than as digital content on a device.

If, however, there was a way that I could buy a book and get a digital copy thrown in for good measure, I’d definitely consider a Kindle – far more convenient for taking multiple publications on trips etc, and far less bulky than a book if you carry one around for use on public transport etc. I can particularly see the attraction for children and young adults in education – how much easier would it be if you could carry your textbooks around on one device rather than lugging them around in a backpack?

All that said, there really is nothing quite like reading a book. Curling up in your favourite armchair in front of the fire with a nice cuppa and a good Kindle… it just doesn’t seem right, does it?

I’ve been really impressed with the libraries here in auckland. Not only are the physical spaces good (books, DVDs, CDs, reference, recent newspapers/magazines, free wifi, computers with printers etc) they also have some local council desk there.

But the great thing is their Digital Library where you can download e-books (and audio books) on a lending basis. I thought my ipad would result in the end of me reading books, but it’s had the opposite effect. In the evening i can reserve copies of books, download them when they are available (they have a limited digital copies of each item just like physical bools). i can then read it on my ipad app until it expires 21 days later. i can then reorder it and go back in the queue or just delete it.

No forgetting to return books or late fees. Perfect!

Now all i need is an app so i can print out the cover of the book i’m reading and stick it on the back of my ipad so people know i’m reading intellectual novels and not playing games on the bus (honest).

The only downside is reading books in bed. i’ve dozed off the other evening whilst reading a biography and the ipad tipped forward and slapped me flat on the face

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