And the controversy over ebook lending continues:
In another article on the subject of HarperCollins new restrictions on ebook licensing (specifically targeting library lending), Library Journal columnist Michael Kelley recounts Roberta Stevens (American Library Association president) criticisms of the new policy. From the ALA’s statement regarding HarperCollins decision to limit licenses to 26 viewings before renewal:
“Libraries have a long history of providing access to knowledge, information and the creative written works of authors…We are committed to equal and free access for the millions of people who depend on their library’s resources every day. While demand has surged, financial support has decreased. The announcement, at a time when libraries are struggling to remain open and staffed, is of grave concern. This new limitation means that fewer people will have access to an increasingly important format for delivering information.”
She furthermore vowed to work closely with publishers:
“Crafting 21st century solutions for equitable access to information while ensuring authors and publishers have a fair return on their investments is our common goal. The transition to the e-book format should not result in less availability…The marketplace for e-books is changing rapidly. We encourage publishers to look to libraries as a vehicle to reach and grow diverse audiences.”
As of this posting, HarperCollins has not changed their position regarding ebook licensing, namely that they’re acting in the interests of the authors and that ebook licensing in perpetuity will result in a reduced profit stream for both publishing houses and authors. They maintain that the “26 and out” policy is the most equitable way of solving the problem.
Frequent readers of this blog (btw, Thanks Mom!) may be wondering by now why I keep coming back to this issue. After all, I’m not a librarian, and frankly, the last time I was in a library was to rent a movie. (psst…you can rent them all you want) So, why should this issue matter to you, or me, or any ebook reader that doesn’t use the library?
Simply put…look to the future!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up five years from now, pull out my Kindle 5.0 (Now with Holographic display!) and find that half my digital books are no longer there because all the while some virtual doomsday clock is counting down the seconds until my licenses are considered “expired.” Furthermore, with the advent of such policies as Amazon Kindle’s new lending feature, who’s to say that publishers won’t institute a similar policy for the general public?
To quote a hackneyed phrase, “It’s in Revelation, people!”