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So as a fairly tech savvy person, but also a fairly ethical person, one thing that really gets my goat is anything that makes it difficult for me to enjoy whatever media it is I have acquired. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie or music cd, book or video game. However I was just recently testing* out a thing that the library is considering getting, and it reminded me just how much I hate artificial friction. This is a term I first heard during one of the big eBook lending kerfuffles.

The basic idea is that the publisher would rather sell you a physical copy of the book, because if someone steals your physical copy, they can only steal it once. Whereas with a digital copy, if someone steals it, they can distribute it as much as they want. So the idea is you make it difficult to get the digital version at all in the hopes that people give up and buy the physical copy. There is a pretty gaping flaw in that logic, but it is only slightly worse than Harper-Collin’s idea that all books should magically fall apart after 26 reads. Or Penguin’s insistence that their books not be transmitted wirelessly.

So I’m not going to mention any names regarding this thing… I won’t say database, because it’s magazine access … I’m not really sure what the right word is… maybe virtual newsstand? I kind of like that. Anyways, this virtual newsstand is actually a multi-party affair. That is to say, you access the first party from a special link (given by your library, but for now just for those of us who’re testing it). You need to register for an account which is pretty easy, and mainly requires email verification. Not a problem for someone who knows what they’re doing. Then you pick out the magazine(s) you want to read from those available (a quick look suggested that only the penultimate issue of each magazine was available, that is to say last month’s issue.) Then you go to the second party’s website, where you have to also have an account. Their registration process is also fairly simple, and I’ll be honest I used the same credentials and throwaway password for both.

Not the most difficult access transaction I’ve ever gone through, but not the simplest by far. And if I understand right to read a new magazine I’ll have to go back to the first party site using my special link, and and click on the next magazine I want to read, sending confirmation to the second party site that I’ve got permission to read it, then open it in there.

If you want to read it on an android device (and I’d assume iOs as well) you’re going to have trouble because Android doesn’t have flash (actually it does, but whatever) and so you have to download the app… For all that they say the service is supported on multiple platforms, they don’t make it easy to find the app…

I’ll admit, I didn’t spend a lot of time actually reading the magazine, but I did play around w/ it enough on my phone to know that unless I’m really desperate to read the article I need a bigger screen. I may give it a go on an ipad or android tablet while I still have access to them, and I imagine the larger screen real-estate will be helpful… but there is still way to many hoops to jump through for me to really be happy about this service…

Well, except for the fact that part of my job is to help people use library resources on their diverse devices … so I guess I could look at it as job security. (;


*Since this is a test, the actual process could conceivably be easier for the patrons. I don’t actually know.

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