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NYPL snubs iPod users

Jay Savage

As c|net reported earlier, the New York Public Library has chosen to exclude iPod users from access to its new audio eBook collection. The NYPL has chosen to use Windows Media-based Media Console from OverDrive to handle the audio DRM. I have to say, this baffles me. It's not that the iPod is the only DAP in NYC, but it's the New York DAP. They're everywhere. People listen to them on the sidewalk, in the subway, in stores (which can be annoying if the person in front of you in line is really into a song), and anywhere else you can imagine. Hipsters love iPods, and New York has nothing if not throngs of young tech-savvy artistic types and professionals who think they're too cool to admit being yuppies hipsters standing six deep at Starbucks counters from Harlem to Williamsburg. iPods are where it's at in this city, and not just with the "in" crowd. Everyone has them, from high schoolers in the Bronx to grandmothers in Bensonhurst. I think the bum outside my office may even have a lime green mini, although I wouldn't care to guess how he got it, or whether he listens to it or just mutters softly to it. It's not that there aren't other DAPs around. People have Rios, Zens, DAPs that run the whole gamut. But iPods are ubiquitous.

 Locking iPodders out of the public audio book circulation is inexplicable. I understand some of the motivation, of course. The NYPL has an existing relationship with OverDrive. Versions of Windows are also the most widely used OSes, particularly on commodity computers, so the eBooks will be available to many, many people who can't afford a DAP at all, let alone an iPod. If I were running a public Library that serves a largely impoverished population, I'd look long and hard at a Windows-based solution, too, especially if my facilities tended to have Windows machines installed as public workstations. But that's no reason to leave the millions (at least it seems that way, tens of thousands is probably more accurate) of New Yorkers with iPods out in the cold.

There ought to be a solution that makes everyone happy.  Apple has long sold itself as the computer company for educators and academics. Surely there's some way for the NYPL to open its doors to the iPod.

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