Monday, March 07, 2011

eBook publishers punish libraries?

There are advantages to eBooks - they are easily portable, can easily adjust their presentation, and assuming good backups they never wear out. There are also DISadvantages to eBooks - they require costly "reader" devices, they can report back usage to publishers/sellers, and if their chosen platform goes under, they quickly become useless. So, it is troubling when eBook publishers choose to undermine their own platform by limiting library lending of eBooks to simulate the wear-and-tear of physical books merely to preserve their existing business model.

HarperCollins has got wise to this: it has announced that US libraries will be allowed to lend ebooks only up to 26 times. Its sales president, Josh Marwell, believes that's only fair: 26, he claims, is the average number of loans a print book would survive before having to be replaced...[Two] librarians from Oklahoma took a random selection of five HarperCollins bestsellers from their shelves and showed they were all in perfectly readable condition. A pristine copy of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, borrowed 48 times, would have been needlessly re-bought, while Stuart Woods's Swimming to Catalina, still going at 120 loans, would be on its fifth, pointless reincarnation.
Whether the "26 loans" figure holds up or not, it is still a stupid idea. Libraries exist as a public good, and generally DRIVE demand for good books by creating and maintaining buzz among people who can't afford their own copy. And, as mentioned above, eBooks already have their own downsides over paper. We shouldn't have to pay MORE for less product.


Sean said...

This is the Publishing industry falling in the same trap that the music industry did. Assuming that more borrowing with equal lower sales. Studies have disproven the idea in music and I'm sure they'll be disproven in books as well.

ebook publishers australia said...

People or authorities should be imposed heavy penalties for breaching this copyright act.