Friday, 6 April 2007

MP3 audio books in libraries

I have been thinking for ages about the possibility of buying Young Adult audio books as mp3 files and lending them out on iPods. I know that there are ways to have these audio books available for downloading from a library's catalogue, but this can take time and is very costly. So, me being me and not wanting to wait, I thought a quicker way to start this would be to buy the audio books as mp3 files, buy some iPods, then lend out the iPod loaded with the book, pretty much in the same way that public libraries lend out books. I had no plans to lend out a book more than once at a time (after all, with a printed book, only one person can borrow it at once, right?) and thought it would be pretty straightforward for staff and patrons to understand. There would be no need for staff to transfer files, as the iPod would stay preloaded with the same book.

Sounds simple?

well it isn't. I can't get a straight answer from iTunes on whether we can do this. One person told me that he saw no reason why we couldn't and although we were restricted to having the audio book on no more than 5 computers, we could have it on as many devices as we liked. Further enquiries have led to puzzled questions for clarification (obviously lending out an audio book is a foreign concept??), to replies saying that lending out the book for commercial purposes is against the terms of sale. Trying to clarify whether a library lending out an mp3 file on an iPod is commercial still had me going around in circles.

So much for good ideas. sigh.

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