Hot Topic of the Week: Restrictions on library e-lending

by | Jan 30, 2012 | 0 comments

There is a great deal of concern in library circles about publisher restrictions on library e-lending.  The library role in providing e-books is being challenged in restrictions ranging from HarperCollins’  26-circulation limit to  publishers like Hachette and Penguin pulling their front list e-books from library access to Simon & Schuster’s policy of never making its e-books available to libraries.

According to Random House Also Agrees to Meet with ALA , (a post on the E-Content blog of American Libraries) ALA President Molly Raphael will lead an “ALA delegation” to meet individually with  Penguin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and now Random House. The objective in Ms. Raphael’s words is “improving our dialogue with these four (and other) publishers as we all work to maintain the essential role that libraries must continue to play in our democratic society in the rapidly evolving global digital world.”

However, a number of thorny issues rise to the surface.  Do publishers have a legitimate concern that library circulation of e-books  will contribute to the “Napsterization of publishing?”   Are librarians correct in their claim that these publisher practices discriminate against library users?  (ALA Council passed a resolution to that effect at Midwinter in Dallas.) Are publishers right to worry “that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it?”   Or are there creative solutions that allow libraries to provide e-books to their patrons and preserve the necessary profit incentive for publishers?  For their part can libraries provide more support to publishers in promoting authors and e-books?  Will publishers back off their restrictive policies?  Where does preservation come into the mix?

The answers won’t be easy to come by so Stay tuned!

PS. This is a topic that will stay hot for a while so after you’ve thought about it, let us know what you think.

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