Saturday, March 12, 2011

Libraries vs. HarperCollins

HarperCollins is making big waves in the library world by limiting ebooks to 26 loans before requiring libraries to buy the ebook again.

Our prior e-book policy for libraries dates back almost 10 years to a time when the number of e-readers was too small to measure. It is projected that the installed base of e-reading devices domestically will reach nearly 40 million this year. We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.

Alright, it is an outdated policy. On the other hand, I'm still in the camp that format and file changes make ebooks less permanent than hardcopy books. (Then again, I haven't actually been at a circulation desk and seen how damaged books get, nor do I know how many loans they go through before they're written off.) Twenty-six times seems pretty low, however. Maybe if they upped the limit a considerable amount?

The article also points out that Macmillan and Simon&Schuster don't yet offer libraries ebook versions of their books at all.

HarperCollins announced it was doing this in late February; it's starting to come into affect now, so it's not exactly new. Maybe people thought they wouldn't go through with it.


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