ATG Article of the Week: Digital Domain: Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War

by | Dec 27, 2011 | 0 comments

Digital Domain:  Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War

As this article in the NY Times points out, the popularity of ebook borrowing from libraries will grow just as ebook sales have grown – and publishers fear the obvious.   They worry “that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, almost all major publishers in the United States now block libraries’ access to the e-book form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones.”  The technology makes borrowing ebooks far more convenient than checking out print titles and unlike print books, ebooks never wear out requiring replacement.  Publishers feel that “they need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.”  Limiting the number of loans allowed per purchase, as HarperCollins has done, or holding back the most recent ebook titles from libraries
are two strategies being employed.  Neither alternative appeals to libraries.  The new technology seems to demand a new model but publishers and librarians are at an impasse.  Publishers have “talked with librarians about the various levers we could pull,” such as limiting the number of loans permitted or excluding recently published titles.  But as of now “there’s no agreement … among librarians about what they would accept.”  And because of “antitrust concerns,” publishers have not agreed on a uniform approach in dealing with libraries.  Stay tuned, the final chapter is still being drafted.



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