Thursday, March 03, 2011

Harper Collins fires a shot at libraries

Harper Collins announced the other day that they were reversing policy on rights sold with their e-books. They set a "26 times used" policy on all their e-books sold to libraries. In other words, a Harper Collins e-book will stop working after being checked-out for 26 times.

OverDrive, one of the main vendors to libraries for downloadable e-books, came out with their own statement that implies more than one publisher has the same thinking as Harper Collins. This, of course, does not bode well for libraries.

From what I can gather, Harper Collins' implied argument is that its not fair that a single copy of an e-book will never wear out, unlike print, which wears with use. The wear and tear of print will sometimes cause a library to purchase fresh print copies.

Librarians counter that they do not receive the same discount for e-books that they receive for print books. In addition, we can resell or give away, i.e. truly own, purchased print material.

There are librarians calling for a boycott of Harper Collins, but, of course, most of us will probably not do so. In addition ALA has made no real statement concerning this latest issue. This is all adding up more and more like libraries will not have a place in the future of e-books, or, at least, an extremely limited role.

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