Peter C. Herman is a professor of English Literature at San Diego State University and he has a few things to say about The Hidden Costs of E-books at University Libraries in this article that recently appeared in the Times of San Diego.
While Professor Herman admits to a couple of pluses for eBooks over print like access and portability, he says that the main advantage of eBooks, at least, for libraries, is price. He notes the reasonable costs associated with current eBook packages – at least on the surface. But as he digs deeper, Professor Herman sees what are other, hidden costs.
He discusses familiar concerns about a less satisfying college reading experience with eBooks and goes on to note the fact that libraries do not actually own their eBooks quoting Clifford Lynch that “nobody buys an e-book: one licenses it under typically very complex terms that constrain what you are allowed to do with it.” This leads Professor Herman to an examination of those constrains ranging from download limitations to restrictions on interlibrary loan to disappearing eBooks at the publisher’s discretion.
Professor Herman also makes the provocative claim that libraries, “lured by the initial low price and the promise of convenience,” have entered into a “Faustian deal” with providers.
Of course, you’ll need to read the article to get full force of his argument. But, regardless of whether you agree or not, its worth the effort.
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.