“what in the world is she talking about??” yes, i can hear you, dear reader. yes, i can. can so. can so. cancancancancancancan…can!
okay, enough of that. i literally just finished reading about the boycott being organized by librarians around the country against harpercollins and their subsidiary, overdrive.
a little background info, maestro. overdrive is the company that provides a lot of libraries with their e-book distribution mechanism. and great strides have been made in this area, specifically not having to physically visit your local library in order to download e-books (as long as you are a member in good standing). and availability across multiple e-book reading platforms, including iPads. so with things going so well, what’s all the hubbub, bub?
according to the blogger librarian by day, harper collins has decided to limit the number of e-book checkouts to…26. yes, that magical number 26. is there some significance in the heralds of harper collins historic lore attached to the number 26?
the e-book library lending saga began on shaky ground with publishers equating a digital copy to a physical book, the one copy/one user model. so libraries could only “lend” an e-book (remember, e = electronic = digital file) one at a time to one patron on one platform. so if you wanted to start reading on your laptop and then read on your amazon kindle on the train to work, fuhgeddaboudit.
now, this magical 26th loan. remember, an e-book in a library catalog is not really the library’s book. it’s a license that allows a library patron to access that digital file. like going to the movies. your ticket doesn’t buy you the movie, only the right to access that movie for a specific date and time. the end.
so harper collins has decided that the license to access a library’s copy of a harper collins (and its smaller publishing houses) will expire after the 26th view.
okay, now granted i work for an academic library, not a public one so it’s a little different. but let’s use an old world example. title: the media in american politics. cost: $51.99. checked out: 107 times. cost per checkout: $0.49 (and counting downward). new world example: license expiration after 26 checkouts. cost per checkout: $1.99. IF it’s checked out 26 times.
now, of course this is all subjective, except for the old world example. but the costs of a license expiration could be a budget buster for many libraries, especially public libraries in cash-strapped states and municipalities.
i have to admit that i thought the introduction of the internet, electronic resources, a computer in every home, a chicken in every pot, e-books, e-readers, actually all things ‘e’ would make things easier, better and more accessible to the masses. i thought price points would drop, and they would become as ubiquitous as cell phones. almost EVERYBODY has a cell phone.
i thought that not having to go to the library would be great. no transportation issues, no overdue fines, no hold queues, no weeding, no excessive watching of hold queues (i’m number 76, now 58, now 40, still 40, still 40? oh for pete’s sake bring the book back!)
after working up this little model, i can see both sides of the equation. the publisher sees a profit potential that’s essentially lost in the old-world library lending model. the library sees a big behemoth gouging the little guy with the noble cause.
personally, i think the ’26’ model has set e-book library lending back a few steps. the fear that came from libraries not “owning” materials maybe wasn’t so far-fetched after all?
the future is here . . . but can we afford it?
happy reading . . . no matter the format!
btw – if you can’t see the number 26 in the graphic, you’re colorblind. but you probably already knew that.