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.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.