Librarians take HarperCollins to task

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?

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2 thoughts on “Librarians take HarperCollins to task

  1. Haven’t had the brain function to read all the info for this current debate. But one thing I keep coming back to (& I’m sure I’m out of date & out of the loop) is the payment made by libraries (university is my experience) for the use of high turnover materials that used to be photocopied (the 10% rule) under CAL type arrangements.

    Libraries for me are a source of finding new topics, authors, series in all manner of ways which lead to me buying. Restricting a loan turnover seems akin to saying with a paper version of taking it off the shelves after it’s been out for ‘x’ weeks (like booksellers do). Instead of libraries going through circulation numbers in their determination of when to take something off the shelves.

    Libraries saw the writing on the wall as their “old style” set up when card catalogues were being phased out.

    Publishing is in the throes of a huge overhaul (I still equate it to the monks/scribes vs presses level of change). Going to be a lot of dust kicked up in the process though.

  2. I can’t help feeling that it’s the readers – whether borrowing or buying – who are being overlooked in much of this shakeover. Books aren’t just commodities, they’re art, and I think that helps to muddy the commercial models.

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