There has been a bit of a discussion on the Australian Teacher-Librarian Mailing List (yes, we not only still have libraries, we still have mailing lists in this country!) about state boundaries and access to resources. I live in Victoria (the state, not the Island) and we have a fabulous state library, somewhat imaginatively called the State Library of Victoria. As a Victorian resident, I can access lots of academic databases and electronic journals through the State Library. My friends who live in Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, cannot access most of these resources. But it’s OK – they have the State Library of New South Wales, and I can’t access their online content.
I’m also a member of the Melbourne Library Service, which is an Overdrive library. Members anywhere in Victoria can borrow audiobooks and eBooks. They used to let anyone borrow them, but apparently some of the vendors and/or publishers got upset about them having over 1000 overseas members – so we recently had to verify a Victorian address to keep using that service. I suppose this is one consolation for Australians, who are being denied much of the international eBook and audiobook market – just like we were denied the iTunes Music Store for a while. I suppose that the local publishers are trying to survive in the face of international online purchasing, so they are trying to quarantine some content so it can only be bought from them.
I still get the feeling that local publishers are burying their heads in the sand hoping for the eBook fad to blow over. It isn’t a fad, of course, and it won’t go away. Legal downloading of music is now a booming industry for the publishers who embraced it, rather than a fad that disappeared, as many in the music industry were predicting. How long will we have to wait for Australian publishing to really embrace the ebook?