E-book revolution makes a mess in the library

I found this article the ‘The Age’ today, which discusses the tangle which libraries and publishers are getting themselves into over the rise of ebooks.

I’d encourage you to give it a read:

E-book revolution hinders the shelf life of a library.

It seems that publishers are charging libraries huge amounts for ebooks, which seems a bit mad. However, I can see that if libraries are allowed to loan out a single copy of a book to many readers at once, the publishers are justifiably a bit worried about their profits. I dare say that authors are also a bit concerned about loss of royalties, although personally I’d be pretty happy if some additional people read and enjoyed my work.

Perhaps one way out of the mess is to manage ebooks in libraries the same way that some software is dealt with in an office situation: that is, with a finite number of licenses. That way, libraries could only loan out as many copies as they have at any one time, publishers would be protected, and so would not feel the need to charge libraries exorbitant prices for their books.

Popular books would require more licenses to satisfy demand, but also libraries might be able to take advantage of the generally lower cost of ebooks to make sure that they had a more extensive collection of books. Those works by unknown authors, or with slightly obscure but nonetheless fascinating content to a select few could be more easily available, without even the need to reserve shelf space.

What do you think? Is there an aspect of this issue which I don’t understand? If so, I’m more than happy to chat about it! 🙂

Courtesy of Jeff Koterba at the Omaha World Herald, via http://thefutureofpublishing.com/2011/04/david-owns-3500-books/

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2 thoughts on “E-book revolution makes a mess in the library

  1. My library does do this, but then whenever I’ve looked for e-books I might want to read, they’re all out. I guess it hasn’t all been figured out yet since they’re not offering enough copies. The other strange thing is that anyone who checks out an e-book is supposed to electronically return it after reading it. I’m guessing that a lot of people don’t do that and so maybe that’s why they always seem to be out. As long as the e-book isn’t too much, I end up buying it anyway.

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