Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Holy Crap! I'm Back!

So, after a lovely long break, I am back in the saddle.
I am one revised paper away from completing my Composition 2 class and it has been a long effort for me.
If you can't tell, I didn't learn a whole lot. According to my instructor I misuse and abuse commas frequently. Also, run on sentences are the bane of my existence.

I am going to start back slow, maybe a book a week starting next week. But in the mean time, enjoy this paper I wrote on librarians vs publishers. My lovely sister-in-law helped revise it so I got an awesome grade thanks to her.

The assignment was a pretend letter to the editor which is why it isn't quite my usual format.


Dear Editor,
How would you feel if one day you went to your public library and you weren’t able to get any popular bestselling books? What if you were told you wouldn’t be able to get these books through any library because the six largest publishers would no longer sell books to libraries? Unfortunately, you don’t have to try to image this horrible event – it is actually happening. In recent years reading has evolved from just paper format in to a new format, the ebook (digital book). With this evolution has come a host of problems, the main one being accessibility. I recently discovered that three of the largest publishers refuse to sell ebooks to libraries. Of the three other top publishers only one publisher sells ebooks to libraries without harsh restrictions. This has led to publish outcry from libraries that face criticism from their patrons when they can’t offer popular books such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It may not seem like a big deal, but the ebook industry is on the rise and many people look to the library for their ebooks.
            As a child I was taught that libraries are places of wonder, a magical world where I could get any book imaginable and that librarians are some of the smartest people in existence. As I grew older I branched out where I obtained books. But I still believed that a libraries only goal is to encourage people to read and to spread the gift of books to others. If this is the case then why can’t libraries buy the newest books in digital format? Publishers certainly have no problem with libraries buying new releases in paper format, why then this ban on digital?
            Several publishers have stated that they do not sell ebooks to libraries out of concern for authors. They worry that the convenience of borrowing an ebook format from a library will hurt the sales of ebooks and in turn will be detrimental to authors. Their solution is to limit ebook availability for libraries. Some publishers, such as Simon & Schuster and Scholastic Corporation,  have taken this a step farther and refuse to sell ebooks to libraries at all. This has created a problem with many libraries that are struggling to keep up with advancements in technology. 
There are solutions to this feud. One possibility is to limit the number of checkouts per title and to require the library to repurchase the title after it has reached its set limit. In my mind this is the best solution. However, I believe research needs to be done before this solution is put in to effect. The research would be fairly simple, a study done to determine how many times a paper book can be borrowed, read, and returned before it is worn out to the point that it needs replacing. With the data collected from this study it will be easier to determine an appropriate number of checkouts for ebooks that is fair and favorable to both the library and publishers.
Another option is to increase the cost of the original ebook copy in exchange for unlimited checkouts of the title. This is the route that Random House has gone and so far they are receiving a favorable response from libraries. While it is unknown how the prices for the libraries are in comparison to what the public pays for the same title, it does seem to be a step in the right direction. The only problem with this is who decides what is a fair price? If it is an unlimited use ebook, is it fair to charge the library ten times what the average consumer pays for the same ebook? If current trends in ebook consumption continue to grow as they are projected to, I feel that there will need to be some form of regulation to prevent price gouging by the publishers and ebook misuse by consumers and libraries alike.
In the meantime, there are several things that the average consumer can do to help publishers that this ebook ban is not right. I recommend a two-part plan. First, boycott publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Scholastic Corporation and Macmillan. If they aren’t willing to sell to institutes such as library, why should be willing to buy from them? Second, write to these publishers. Let them know your feelings on the matter. In this letter, include why you are choosing to no longer buy their ebooks. If we are able to hurt their profit margins, maybe they will reconsider their stance on selling ebooks to libraries.
                In our society there has always been a struggle between sellers and consumers. Supply and demand is the basis of our economy. As a whole we have struggled with this balance for centuries and will continue to do so for many centuries to come. Despite this, we have to settle on a reasonable compromise that will allow future generations to have access to literature in all forms and formats that will encourage learning and reading as a whole. We can’t let this feud prevent us from providing future generations with all the resources we can possibly give them. Publishers vs. Libraries isn’t a case we are likely to see in a court of law any time soon. But it is something we should all be aware of. It is our duty to encourage negotiations between these two entities in hopes of a plan for the future of books in all formats.