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Monday, 7 March 2011

Harper Collins anger libraries with 26 hire rule on eBooks

eBooks were supposed to be indestructible. Where you had disk-space, you had literature – in perpetuity. Which is bad news for publishers now deprived of that extra round of sales revenue engendered by books being dropped in baths.

HarperCollins has got wise to this: it has announced that US libraries will be allowed to lend ebooks only up to 26 times. Its sales president, Josh Marwell, believes that's only fair: 26, he claims, is the average number of loans a print book would survive before having to be replaced. HarperCollins UK won't rule out applying this ebook strategy to British libraries - and should it do so, it can expect a frustrated reaction. "Clearly, printed books last a lot longer than 26 loans," says Philip Bradley, vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

His claim seems to stand up: in a YouTube video, two librarians from Oklahoma took a random selection of five HarperCollins bestsellers from their shelves and showed they were all in perfectly readable condition. A pristine copy of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, borrowed 48 times, would have been needlessly re-bought, while Stuart Woods's Swimming to Catalina, still going at 120 loans, would be on its fifth, pointless reincarnation.

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South Sioux City is joining many libraries across the county that say they're already financially strapped. South Sioux City has about $20,000 to spend on new material each year and with e-books running $25, the library has decided to no longer purchase HarperCollins e-books.
They are also freezing the purchase of printed books by the publisher.
"We have to kind of draw the line somewhere on our budget. This hits on us pretty hard," said  Mixdorf.

HarperCollins says, if left unchanged its policy could have hurt its e-book business as a whole, along with book stores, and lead to lower book sales and royalties paid to authors.
You can check out existing HarperCollins books at the library, but Mixdorf says until something changes, they'll no longer purchase new materials from popular authors like Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich, and even Sarah Palin.

The South Sioux City library is part of a consortium of 60 libraries within the state of Nebraska that have an e-book sharing agreement. If they purchased three copies of every title, only one person from each library would be able to check out the book.

1 comment:

Zephirus said...

One of the problems with Access vs Ownership continuing on, as Access takes more priority publishers will ever try to find new ways of sticking in new transactions like this. Publishers are ever out for more money. That's their whole endgame.
The problem from them and for Libraries is that the Libraries only have so much money to spend in their collection development budget. And the trend lately is that budget is shrinking.
If the costs gets higher the the turn around, do be surprised to see libraries start tapering away from offering e-books.