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I'm a regular user of the local library, but I notice that most people in my "class" (i.e. tech people earning a lot) don't go there. It's easier to buy it on your Kindle for $10-$15 than to make a trip to the library. I'm gonna be a jerk and say that most people also like to hang out in expensive coffee shops with other members of their class, and not in the library where there are lots of poor people.

It's a little bit like grocery stores... you can often get a better deal if you go to another neighborhood. But most people want to hang out with their peers in the nice grocery store. The savings isn't worth the trip either.

I don't think any of these things have anything to do with "hanging out" and "class". When you get a book on your Kindle, you're not hanging out with anyone, you're just getting a book. Also, anecdotes and data notwithstanding, the times I've seen people "hanging out" with people they didn't arrive with at a grocery store in my life can probably be counted on one hand.

When your (cash-rich, time-poor) friends buy books on their Kindles instead of going to the library, it's most likely because they value the convenience of (a) not having to go to the library to get the book (b) not having to consider whether the book is stocked (c) not having to got to the library to return it (d) not having to keep track of when the book must be returned (e) not having to actually carry a physical book around -- more then they value their $10-15.

It's unpopular but I really enjoy reading on my phone. It's small, it's always with me, it's much more convenient than lugging around a physical book(and I love physical books). But that's why I buy ebooks(they're just expensive which sucks).

It's interesting to listen to the cascading excuses when bringing up books with friends. "Why not use a kindle?" "I like holding the physical book." "Oh, then why not go to the library?" "Well, I like owning the book too." "Oh."

I think you're right in that people like the "culture" around reading more than reading itself.

You can save a ton of money using your local library though. I really need to start doing that.

I read mostly technical stuff, mostly online articles, snd few books to begin with... I prefer physical books for diving into something more new to me as I tend to remember better with a physical book. I remember better with roughly where something is in the book. I don't get that with ebooks, I've tried. I don't go to the library as technology books are usually too dated for me.

Happy medium. I use the library for my 'summer reading books', the books you read once, enjoy and never thing about again. I use Kindle for books I really enjoy and want to read again (or for free/cheap summer books that the library doesn't have). I buy physical books for reference or if the library/kindle/nook/ebook provider does not have it available.

I buy physical books because they're cheaper than ebooks. I'll usually pay about $.50 to a buck for them. Sometimes my friends just give me a box of books they're done with. The local thrift store often has bestsellers for a buck.

The usual price for a used book on Amazon is $.01, which with shipping comes out to still far less than the ebook.

For ebooks, Amazon already has one free "rental" per month of select books, for Prime members.

There are other good sources of free books include this blog: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/category/books/free-fiction...

I did that once (don't remember what book) but in the end I didn't like it. While I don't like to re-read books it kind of annoys me that the book is gone from my list of stuff I've bought/read. Plus the limitation of 1 per month means you can't switch to reading something else unless I buy that something else.

I don't like losing access to things. If it was "you can download one per month and keep access as long as you're a subscriber" sort of the way Playstation Plus works that would be OK with me.

But the rental program feels more like a cruddy crippled library than a real service.

I'd rather pay the $5-$10 for the eBook and not have to deal with it.

This new service is interesting. I don't read enough for it to be useful, but I could see it saving my dad quite a bit of money (or trips to the library) if they had enough books.

Last time Amazon gave me a free trial of Prime, I tried out the free rental. As best as I could make out, it was only possible to use it by browsing on my Kindle, which was a rather suboptimal experience, allowing only specific search or a paginated list of about 50,000 pages. I couldn't actually find anything I wanted to read.

If you know how to use Amazon's interface it's possible to see the list of books online so you don't have to do all the browsing on the Kindle, but you still have to 'buy' it from the Kindle.

It's sort of a hidden link or a special way of narrowing search results with the criteria on the left side of the page. If you google I'm sure you can find instructions.

Here's the super-secret password for the clubhouse.

In the search box on the main amazon.com page, there's a drop-down list on the left hand side of the text entry. Click that and change it to "Books". Now just hit search (you can leave the text field blank). That will bring up a search results screen with a bunch of filter groups on the left. Scroll down and select "Kindle Edition" under "Format". After the page reloads, scroll down even further and you'll have a checkbox for "Prime Eligible". Select that, and you'll have only the books you can rent with Prime. You can then further refine by genre, search term, whatever.

The selection is generally pretty awful though.

You can buy it from your phone or computer. Even if it is a Mac. You pick which device you want it sent to. And I totally don't get that y'all are saying ebooks cost more than trad.and "awful" selection? What don't they have?

You can buy from anywhere. But the Prime free rentals can only be done from the Kindle device itself.

I was not aware of this. Do you get to chose the book?

Yes, but you can only read them on a Kindle device, not the app.

Oh, that's right, that's what really killed it for me. I'm used to reading on my kindle and picking up my progress on my phone when I'm stuck somewhere with some free time.

Losing the sync ability basically killed the main utility I get from eBooks. If I have to carry the Kindle around, I can carry a library book around.

This is a good point. You could get the best of both worlds and just buy books on eBay for cheap. It's cheap and you end up with a physical copy.

> Happy medium.

An appropriate term to use in a discussion that's literally about different media for books.

Kindles are great for books I'll read sequentially, in which I'll never need to consult a specific section, and in which I'll never have to page back-and-forth. So, all fiction and most nonfiction I enjoy having in Kindle format. Textbooks and references I want to own in dead-tree format.

These are all valid reasons. I read a lot of ebooks because I'm travelling a lot but if I move somewhere to stay there permanently I'm going to go back to buying physical books. As much for myself as for my kids to grow with books around.

> You can save a ton of money using your local library though.

I'm quite specific about what I want to read. My local library (that happens to be just round the corner) never has what I want. I often don't even seem to be able to order in what I want. So I gave up and just buy books on a Kindle instead.

I can get just about any book I want through the library: http://www.georgialibraries.org/public/pines.php

There's no catch. You order the book from whichever library has it, and they deliver it within a few days. Plus, the eBook loan program's collection gets bigger all the time. More states should adopt a system like this. The software behind PINES is free and open source: http://evergreen-ils.org/

last time i checked i could reserve on my local library probably a billion more books than what is available in the tiny kindle library. e.g. taocp

Yes, not to mention that some of the best books (e.g. by author R.A. Lafferty) are out of print and only available in libraries or for hundreds of dollars on the used market.

There's an entire corpus of literature between 1920 and 2014 that is out-of-print for licensing or estate reasons, rather than quality, much of which can be found in libraries.

A lot of libraries are starting hackerspaces. You should see if you can mentor at one.

I mentor at a program at my library every week, and it's been really awesome.

I would love to see a national scale project to convert libraries to hackerspaces/coworking spaces.. Digital media should still be available (Kindles, iPads, etc with access to libraries through Amazon for copyright material and Library Of Congress/Internet Archive for public domain material), but its time they evolve.

You don't need a national scale project. You can start with your own, local library. Help make it into the best library around, and others will follow.

Half agree. Use a local library as the prototype, document how you did it and the results, and then scale up with that experience.

Seriously, libraries seem to all recognize the need for hackerspaces, but they don't have hackers to staff them.

They have budgets for things, and space, and a desire, they just need help figuring out where/how to spend things and how to then use the things they've gotten.

Is there an online community where hackers share knowledge about library-based hackerspaces?

You can search around CfA's blogs, their Brigade people, the Sunlight Foundation's blogs, Knight Foundation's blogs, Techpresident's blog, mySociety's blogs, Open Knowledge Foundation's blogs but to me the best example of a great library turned into a makerspace is https://www.fflib.org/make/fab-lab.

Maybe ease into makerspaces like my local library which hosts meetings, and hosts kids events put on by one of the local makerspaces, but isn't technically "The Makerspace" probably because there is zero permanent storage, although makerspace people are there seemingly every day.

Once you're all there all the time anyway, then ease into the "now we want/need/demand permanent storage" And machine tools. And a pony.

The concept of a "Hackerspace-Lite" is interesting. No permanent stuff onsite. Carry in and carry out. The library is already full of meeting and presentation rooms and ours finally caved into to sell coffee and junk food for fundraising.

The biggest problem locally is the whole "A library is also a day care, right?" situation. Up to and including police taking abandoned kids into protective custody after a couple hours, which is weird.

Do they tag them with crayons like street parking spaces? Seriously, how does that work - is someone watching for unattended bag.. er kids and then calling police? What's the minimum age requirement for unattended visits to the library?

They have a regular police presence due to historical problems. Not quite an officer stationed there, but pretty close at certain times of day. Helps that there is a police substation next door. Calling wouldn't get an officer there any quicker, when one walks thru or past every ten minutes or so anyway.

There is a big cultural, uh, mismatch where the library requires more police intervention than any of the retail stores or bars or parks... liquor licenses have been lost for consuming far less police budget than the library. The library gets a free pass.

If all the policies were printed out from the web page it would be at least 100 printed pages. It is a very verbose CYA that boils down to anything you do that a librarian doesn't like will get you banned, and being there while banned is a legal trespassing offense, so one strike and you're out. If the librarians like you, you won't be banned no matter what you do. I can photocopy copyrighted materials, take pictures or videos of my kids, talk (whisper) on my phone, hang out for an hour while my kids take a class ... folks of a different race or economic group may have a somewhat different experience when they break any of those rules.

I was unable to find a minimum age, but I think you'd have to be at least upper grade school to survive not violating at least one of the hundreds of rules for more than a minute or two.

I did find that they define loitering as being in an area for longer than 15 minutes other than defined study desks, so no need for crayons or tagging. I've violated that rule a few dozen times, but I'm in no danger of being punished...

Given the sheer workload of homeless people and child day care, the librarians show quite a bit of restraint and can't enforce all the rules.

I was a regular user of the sf library until we found a dead bedbug in a book. It's just not worth the hassle of potentially infesting my apartment. Also, the bathrooms there are foul. I guess it's nice that street people have a bathroom they can use but the only way to describe it is rural western gas station. That killed lingering at the library.

San Francisco has one of the world's great libraries, e.g. see these photos: http://www.pinterest.com/stellacarruth/san-francisco-public-...

Did you complain to a librarian about the restrooms? That is a cleaning issue, same as a busy airport. The library belongs to all local residents, chip in and help make it the space where you would like to linger. Bathrooms can be cleaned. The rest of the building and books are wonderful.

I regularly have four or five books from my library (one or two tech books, a fiction book and two or three comics) at any one time.

Not to mention the, literally dozens, I get for my kids every month.

I use the library to sample books and because if I bought every book I read, despite my healthy income, I'd be broke. I am an information devourer.

I am pretty sure there are a lot of people like me, at least in the Austin area, because I have to wait on some of the books I'd like to read that I don't think very poor people would be interested in.

YMMV because my library is pretty awesome and well stocked, but I think libraries are a shamefully underutilized resource.

Library hours strongly conflict with 9-5 job hours.

Your local library isn't open weekends? My library's open 9:30 am - 9 pm on weekdays, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm on Saturdays, and 1 pm - 5 pm on Sundays. Those hours definitely don't strongly conflict with 9-5 job hours.

Wow... I don't know what libraries you go to but libraries are generally not full of poor people...

In the Bay Area at least, libraries are where people without computers go to access the Internet. The Internet is the easiest way to perform a lot of basic life tasks, like interacting with the government. People without computers these days are generally lower income, so it's true that there are more poor people in the library.

In some areas, it is definitely significant that libraries have bathrooms and shelter. But the Internet is always a big draw. With more and more of life moving online, libraries are providing an extremely valuable service by making Internet access freely available.

That doesn't match my experience. The libraries around Redwood City are high quality and filled with families.

In San Francisco, Portland, and certain places in Los Angeles, there is a significant number of homeless people who make use of the library. I don't begrudge them the access to books, internet, learning, and a quiet place, but there is a small contingent who are mentally ill and/or disruptive and cause problems for other patrons. Cf. “Why we can't have nice things”

This is most likely true of any large city, but I don't have any first-hand experience beyond those three cities.

Except for universities and affluent suburbs I would have to agree with the assessment. Why not? It's warm in the winter, cool in the summer, you won't be hassled to buy something and there is free internet access.

As much as we would like it to not be true, in the real world free services attract the lowest financial class of people. Libraries are awesome, and I spent a significant portion of my life in them, but as soon as I could afford to not use them, I quit going to them.

Depends if the "real world" is the US, Sweden or, for example, Bulgaria.

In the US, this might be the case. In Sweden, mostly you'll find kids, moms and people studying (depending on the city, if it has a university or not). A very small subset is there for computer access, but it's certainly not a majority.

In Bulgaria, no one seems to go to the library. They check your ID when you go in and it's not really a place to hang out.

Libraries aren't the same everywhere.

The libraries in my city just reflect the people in the community around them. In poorer areas, they are mostly poorer people, in the city centre there are mostly students and workers, in richer areas there are lots of middle class families and older folks.

Any library in an area with a significant homeless population.

I use my local library for a quiet co working space, but never borrow books because their inventory is horribly outdated. In my town many of the libraries are also where the homeless go to hangout, since air conditioning is key here in the south. I rarely see any other tech people at the library, but do see tons at the coffee shop a block away.

I live in chile and since i got my hands on kindle books i got access to tittles that don't even exist anymore in my country So any easy access to kindle books is well come,

I don't think it has much to do with "class" (I don't see many poor people in our library). The library is OK for fiction but poor for things like up-to-date technical books.

holy cow.. pretentious much?

No, that's pretentious' older brother: Elitist.

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