Bobbi Newman, who blogs at Librarian by Day, has an excellent editorial post about current Ebook conditions in public libraries. She questions whether libraries should step back and wait for better options, quoting several other prominent bloggers on the subject. It’s an interesting thought piece from a public library perspective. The comments are just as interesting.
Here is a brief clip from the post – Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business?
Or get out at least until there is a better system? I know what you are going to say, I can hear it already – “We can’t! Our patrons demand ebooks!” Except the truth is our patrons want a lot of things we can’t give them – to always be first on the waiting list for the new James Patterson, to not pay fines when their books are late, for the library to be open earlier or later, or to have a system besides Dewey because despite using it their entire lives they still cannot figure it out. When it comes to ebooks, we cannot give them what they want, not really, we cannot give them books from Simon and Schuster or MacMillian or new books from Penguin or Hatchet, and not more than 26 times from HarperCollins, and probably not many books from Random House. What we can do, what maybe we should do, is spend their tax money wisely, and I am no longer convinced that spending it on the current ebook system is a wise move.
It’s been coming for months. Today Penguin announced it has ended its relationship with OverDrive. Starting tomorrow, it will no longer sell e-books and audiobooks to OverDrive for library lending. Interestingly, ALA and Big Six publishers met last week to discuss library e-book lending. In an article in paidcontent.org, Laura Hazard Owen points out ALA’s concern about statements publishers made regarding “friction.” Publishers felt a degree of friction existed with physical book checkout – involving 2 trips to the library. They felt the online availability would alter the friction calculation. My response to that….clearly they have never tried to download an e-book from the public library. According to Library Journal’s patron profiles, 23% of ebook patrons reported being unsuccessful in borrowing ebooks because of technical difficulty, while almost 44% could not do so because of title unavailability.” That’s a lot of friction.
Here are some articles with more of the story:
Penguin ends E-book Library Lending and Relationship with OverDrive, Paidcontent.org
Penguin Group Terminating Its Contract with OverDrive, The Digital Shift
Penguin Unfriends Libraries, Agnostic Maybe
Penguin Cuts Off All Library Ebooks, The Digital Reader
And others added after the original post:
ALA, Author’s Guild, and 3M weigh in on Penguin-OverDrive Dispute, The Digital Shift
E-Book Lending Library Rises, Publishing Industry Grapples with Change – Digital Book World
Yesterday, ALA released a press release summarizing the meetings between ALA President Molly Raphael, an ALA delegation and representatives from publishers Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Perseus. It’s a great summary of the meeting. The discussions show promise! Here is the text, copied in full from the ALA press release:
American Library Association (ALA) President Molly Raphael led an ALA delegation to New York last week to meet separately with representatives from publishers Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Perseus.
The representatives at these meetings included CEOs, division presidents and other executives. Continue reading