Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Sail to Every Wind

I know that this is outside your field, and you may not be able to comment on publisher policies, but I'm dying to hear your reaction to the decision by HarperCollins to limit ebooks licensed to libraries to 26 checkouts over the life of the book.  As an aspiring writer and a librarian struggling to try to get as many books as I can for my kids on my tiny budget, I can see both sides, but us librarians...we feel a little bit picked on.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

I, too, see both sides.  The system they have set up in much of the British Commonwealth seems like what this country is going to have to move towards eventually... or maybe there's some other system that will work better.

The real answer, I think, is that whatever Harper is doing now, they will probably not be doing two years from now.  The entire publishing industry is in flux.  We are trying to figure out ebooks, and there's truly no way to know for sure how they will end up being sold, checked out, borrowed, etc.  We are in the exciting and extremely frustrating period between publishing models, when the only thing to do is experiment.

79 comments:

Deirdre Mundy said...

I know that our local library wont be buying any of the stupid 26 checkout e-books.

Good grief-- There have been popular books where each copy circulated about 90 times IN THE FIRST THREE MONTHS. So unless the book isn't popular, 26 checkouts won't cut it. And paying as much as a 'real' book for something that has a much more limited life expectancy is... well.... pointless.

HC has made a lot of librarians VERy,VERY angry.... I don't think that's generally a smart thing to do.

(Also, will they then limit their REGULAR e-books to 26 reads?)

Oh, my husband said HC based it on how many times the average HC book circulates before it 'wears out.'

But most books last much longer than 26--- so is HC basically saying "Our print books lower quality than the industry standard!"?????

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also, I was thinking about the commonwealth model, and I think for most authors it would be a net loss.

Why? Because most libraries have a few books that circulate ALOT, and many books that circulate very little.

So the vast majority of published authors would be making very little off a plan like that.

BUT most authors are also heavy library USERS. And library programs help promote their books. And libraries are one of the ways that young readers discover new authors.

So, while the biggies (Rick Riordan, Stephanie Meyers, etc.) would make a killing off of a plan like the commonwealth has, most authors would probably be net losers, since if the libraries have to pay by the checkout, they'll make fewer purchases and provide fewer services.

Deirdre Mundy said...

And....instead of starting a discussion, I apparently killed the thread........

But one more factioid that came up in discussion at home--- the 26 checkouts is how many times the average paperback circulates. HOWEVER, Harper is charging hardcover prices for their 'only use as much as a PB' e-books.

So, the solution MIGHT be to charge PB prices instead---or have several tiers of e-books for libraries:
1. Unlimited use -24.95 (or whatever)
2. 26 use - 6.95
3. Single use - $1 (Which would be cheaper for many libraries than using ILL, so it might be a way to meet patron requests on books the library wouldn't normally carry.)

christine tripp said...

EA, when you speak of the "Commonwealth model" are you referring to the Canadian practice as well of Lending rights payments to publishers, authors and illustrators by Library and Schools? I can see this working very well for the US when it comes to ebooks. I think more Countries then not have had this practice in place for a while now and it will transition well for ebooks as they become more and more popular. I see our local library offers ebooks now that you download and it then expires after the lend time.
The Library itself has an app that allows you to check on new books coming in to the Library, your borrowing history, fines etc. I am, admittedly, becoming app mad!:)

Jess Stork said...

I'm concerned myself about this development. I would agree with Deirdre, that most books last more than 26 checkouts except perhaps boardbooks. This will make it very difficult for us as a library that has high e-book circulation. However, I can see the publisher's opinion as well, that this new technology makes the market more difficult for them.

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Pramod Negi said...

EA, when you speak of the "Commonwealth model" are you referring to the Canadian practice as well of Lending rights payments to publishers, authors and illustrators by Library and Schools? I can see this working very well for the US when it comes to ebooks. I think more Countries then not have had this practice in place for a while now and it will transition well for ebooks as they become more and more popular. I see our local library offers ebooks now that you download and it then expires after the lend time.
The Library itself has an app that allows you to check on new books coming in to the Library, your borrowing history, fines etc. I am, admittedly, becoming app mad!:)
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