Here’s a video from a library in the US, suggesting that HarperCollins’ plan to limit e-book loans to 26 times (ie approximately a year’s worth of lending, based on a fortnight’s turnaround) before libraries have to re-buy the title is more than a little misguided. It’s interesting that libraries are reinventing themselves as not just providers of reading matter, but social hubs; publishers are struggling to reimagine their profit models in an e-age, so this won’t be the last bullet through the foot thanks to a trigger-happy beancounter.
With the ‘shelf life’ of e-books a factor, could libraries end up functioning like video libraries, where e-books are rented rather than loaned? Or should publishers simply forsake the income from backlist replacement copies, and be happy that their authors are getting exposure through the public lending system and hope that borrowings translate to purchasing? I wonder what types of inducements we’ll see added to e-books to encourage upgrading — deleted scenes? commentaries? maybe some discount coupons for the gorgeously bound hardcover collector’s edition?