Saturday, July 20, 2013

Now I Need to Learn Romanian

Here's a little story that might amuse you on a Saturday.

Once upon a time, when I was a younger librarian, I noticed that Hilary Mantel had won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall. A historical novel based on the life of Thomas Cromwell? Exactly up my alley, my very boring, geeky alley. I made a note to read it, but promptly forgot about it for the next shiny novel.

Then Hilary Mantel got into hot water for some comments she made about Kate Middleton. And I noted she had a new book, Bring Up the Bodies, a continuation of her series about Thomas Cromwell. (Honestly I had forgotten about the first book, but when I looked up the second it all came flooding back.)

The second book had also won the Man Booker Prize. At this point I double checked that the Man Booker prize was what I thought it was and they weren't just giving it out like candy. It is the prize for the best full length original novel in the English language by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations won it twice in the last five years. That's crazy.

Clearly I have to read those books. They're between 400 and 700 pages each. That's a lot of weight in a hardcover novel. And my days of lugging around huge hardcovers are over. So I logged online to check it out as an ebook or downloadable audio from the library's system.

No audio. Bummer, that's my preferred method for long books - it got me through Atlas Shrugged and Middlemarch. Hey we have the ebook! Click on it and in that split second before I check it out I notice I can't read the description.

Closer inspection, it's in Romanian. We only own the ebook of the best English language novel of 2009 in Romanian.

Quick google to make sure I haven't missed a large Romanian population lurking around Alaska. Nope.

Email the librarian in charge of buying ebooks (through Overdrive if you're curious about those things). It's only available for purchase in Romanian. Someone (not this librarian but we're not investigating too closely who since we are partners with about 20 other libraries in our ebook system) didn't look too closely and bought the only listing of the ebook without noticing it was in Romanian.

One more quick search. It's published by Macmillan which doesn't allow its ebooks to be bought by libraries. (That's an entire other discussion.) But they have started a new project allowing ebooks to go to libraries through Overdrive (and other vendors). So far it is mostly crime novels, but I am holding out hope. I can wait until they decide to offer it, even though that might be a few years.

Or should I get over my lazy self and just carry around the huge hardbacks? Or get over my cheap self and buy either the paperbacks or ebooks? (For a librarian, I don't own a ton of books. That's what I use the library for.)

Moral of the story: check the language before you buy ebooks.

1 comment:

Dale said...

I think might be interested in this story (they love ridiculous copyright/licensing stories.)