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.
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.