CCrane WIFI2 Radio

Checking Out a Net Library

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, March 30, 1999

A new way to browse through books. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. The next time you go to the library, you may just sit down in front of a computer, click on the title you are looking for, and read it on the screen. Or perhaps you'll want to check the book out on your home PC. A company called netLibrary is turning the idea into a reality partnering with publishers and libraries. netLibrary CEO Tim Schiewe...

"We believe that we're going to be bringing the Library of Alexandria of the 21st Century. We're bringing literally thousands of books to start but we'll be bringing hundreds of thousands, millions of books in the future."

The company is working with college and university libraries at first. The technology used can limit the numbers of digital copies that can be checked out at any one time, and prevents the eBooks from being copied. Individual libraries can have their own sites that can only be accessed by their card holders but...at the netlibrary.com site...

"We have a free reading room. Literally thousands of books that you can read or you can buy books. And it's just like buying a hardbound book. And we give you a big, beautiful bookshelf and the book is then available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the Internet or you can actually download it to your personal computer."

The concept may be fine for reference works and such. The company really doesn't expect you to curl up in your easy chair to read from a computer screen. Not yet at least.