Ms. Calendar: It was your book that started the trouble, not a computer. Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Ms. Calendar: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful memory trigger there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell — musty and rich. Knowledge gained from a computer has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, the getting of knowledge should be tangible, it should be smelly.
—Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "I, Robot... You, Jane"
In 1996, San Francisco opened a new Main Library to a chorus of cheers and jeers. The new structure was architectually stunning (and certainly put to good use as a movie set in 1998's City of Angels). But there was a major problem: they didn't leave much room for books. Some of the collection that had been on publicly-accessible shelves in the old building (which now houses the Asian Art Museum) moved underground into Brooks Hall. Brooks Hall, together with the Civic Auditorium, had been a popular site for conferences and conventions (now pretty much all held at the expanded Moscone Center these days; Brooks Hall has been closed ever since). Some of the old books were given away, while others were sold off or destroyed.
The City Librarian, who had been one of principal forces driving the design of the new Main, envisioned a technologically advanced facility for the 21st century, featuring more than 300 computer terminals and PCs available to the public. He resigned less than a year later.
Fast forward to 2009, where today and tomorrow the Main Library is championing eMedia: eBooks, audiobooks ("spoken eBooks"), music, etc., many of which are tied to evil Microsoft-proprietary technologies. Don't have your own computer? You're shut out. (You can't even use the library's public computers to access much of this stuff, let alone download it.) Use a Macintosh? Your choices are severely limited. Want to listen to audio on your iPod? Ditto. Run Linux on your shiny new netbook, or the free desktop computer you got from ACCRC (or MCRC) because you're disadvantaged, low-income, disabled, a senior citizen, at a non-profit organization, or a school? You're screwed. Totally, completely, utterly screwed. Your tax dollars that support the Public Library may be just as green as the next guy's, but unless you're willing to open yourself up to viruses, worms, credit card and identity-stealing malware, no new media for you!
|Adobe EPUB eBook||ADE for 2000, XP, Vista||ADE for Tiger, Leopard||not supported
(but Windows ADE may run under WINE)
|Adobe PDF eBook||Adobe Reader support for eBooks discontinued 3/2009; must now use ADE|
|Mobipocket eBook||Mobipocket Reader for 2000, XP, Vista||not supported||not supported|
|OverDrive WMA Audiobook||OverDrive Media Console for 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista||not supported||not supported|
|OverDrive MP3 Audiobook||OverDrive Media Console for 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista||OverDrive Media Console for Tiger, Leopard||not supported|
|OverDrive Music||OverDrive Media Console for 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista||not supported||not supported|
|OverDrive Video||OverDrive Media Console for 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista||not supported||not supported|
|NetLibrary eAudiobooks||NetLibrary Media Center for XP, Vista + .NET + Windows Media Player 11||not supported||not supported|
|NetLibrary eBooks||requirements not published|
|Safari Techbooks Online||requirements not published|
|Gale Virtual Reference Library||requirements not published|
ADE = Adobe Digital Editions + Adobe Flash Player
Media for Mac
(note that Windows Media Player 9 is PPC-only, and hasn't been updated since 2003)
Steve Jobs' conclusion that DRM is a failure
Coming to the iTunes Store
Two years later, Apple's iTunes went 100% DRM-free
What's wrong with Digital Restrictions
Making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others