Well, it looks like messing with Librarian’s isn’t the cakewalk HarperCollins expected it to be.
As of March 7, 2011, several library consortia have decided to suspend any future purchases of ebook licenses from HarperCollins as a direct result of the publisher’s recent decision to enact a license limit of 26 check-outs on ebook titles.
In an article by Michael Kelley that can be found at Library Journal (sorry guys, I know I keep cribbing from you, but who else has the best info on Library news?), the response and concerns regarding HarperCollins actions are chronicled. Predictably, they’re not happy. From Joan Kuklinski, executive director of the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing Consortium:
“The library model has always been you purchase and own it for perpetuity, and I don’t think the format should matter as long as rights are being protected,” she told LJ. “No one tells a library they have to pull their books off the shelf after a certain number of circulations so why should this be different? They are looking at consortia as a threat, and it’s totally the wrong approach,” she said.
Directors of the Upper Hudson Library system have also decided to no longer buy their ebook titles from HarperCollins, calling the decision “patently ridiculous” (oh, fun with puns!) while several other consortiums have hopped on the bandwagon (read the article, I can’t crib everything!).
The best argument against such an arbitrary move is Adri Edwards-Johnson (coordinator of the Virtual Library) video demonstrating that print books have a much longer shelf life than HarperCollins is claiming. Ouch, awkward moment for the publisher.
So, there we have it. In their efforts to secure an ongoing profit stream from ebook sales to libraries for themselves, and by extension, the authors they’re claiming to represent, HarperCollins has managed to ensure that neither they nor their authors will see a cent until this issue is resolved. Furthermore, they’ve managed to damage their brand.
I doubt we’ve heard the last of this issue, and suspect that some sort of accommodation will eventually be worked out, but for the moment, it looks like HarperCollins is locked out.