Sunday, January 13, 2013

Publishers versus the libraries.

Recently I was researching a rumor I had heard that you can buy a one year membership to the New York Public Library to access their ebook site. Instead I found this article (link)  by The New York Times about how publishers are blocking libraries from buying their ebooks. This bothered me, but the article was from December 2011 so I decided to look farther in to this issue.

In researching this, I found an article on the American Libraries Magazine website that is titled An Open Letter to America's Publishers (link). This article was published in September of 2012 so it is an up to date article. What I read astounded me. I frequent the bookstores, I go to author signings, I use the library ebook system Overdrive and yet I hadn't heard of this issue until today. The top six American publishing companies are blocking libraries from buying their ebooks. Two of the six companies do allow libraries to purchase the ebooks but only at higher prices (almost double the retail price) or with a limited number of times they can be borrow before having to buy a new copy.

You should also read this article about the Library Journal's 2013 Librarian of the Year Joanne Budler (link.) She has done many amazing things in this debate as the Kansas State Librarian.

I don't think that libraries should be completely blocked from buying ebooks from popular publishers, doing so drastically limits what books the library can get. I think there must be some middle ground that can be reached, but someone will have to compromise for that to happen. I think that limiting the number of times a book can be borrowed is a good idea, but exactly how many times is up for debate. I think that they should do a study on how many times a paper book can be borrowed before it begins to deteriorate and go from there. If a regular book can be borrowed and read fifty times before having to be replaced then maybe that is how many times an ebook should be limited to.

Sadly, I don't think this debate will be solved any time soon and with several publishers already in trouble over ebooks I have a feeling there will be much more drama to come.

I am posting this because I believe this issue needs to be common knowledge. It is a shame that with how many people are switching to digital reading that our libraries won't be able to provide all the books that people desire. I personally can't afford to buy all the newest books in eformat or in paper and I depend on my local library for almost all of my books. When paper books aren't an option, I need those ebooks to keep me busy.

1 comment:

  1. As a Librarian, this issue is quite upsetting. Publishers have seen what has happened with the music industry, and what is happening with the movie industry. They are justly afraid of going bankrupt. However, their actions are limiting the ability of libraries to provide for patrons.

    I know for a fact that a book can be checked out well over 50 times. I would think somewhere in the range of 150 before you notice heavy wear-and-tear. It really depends on the book. Children's books are going to take the hardest hits. Non-fiction books can stay in a system for decades.