Library Access to E-books Worries Publishers

Monday, February 20, 2012

While e-books are extremely convenient for readers, their proliferation is causing more financial problems for the already beleaguered publishing industry. A growing number of people with e-readers want to borrow e-books from their local libraries. But publishers, selling the electronic manuscripts at record highs, are wary of letting libraries loan them out. 

Sean Corcoran is senior reporter for WCAI and our partner station, WGBH. Jill Erickson is a librarian at the Falmouth Public Library in Falmouth, MA.


Sean Corcoran and Jill Erickson

Comments [5]

Ibrahim from stratford

dumb library

Dec. 08 2012 02:19 PM
John Cady from Hillsdale, NY

Librarians are having at least as much trouble as publishers coming up with a new business model in response to e-books. We would rather just continue doing what we have been doing if only publishers would let us. But e-books offer libraries a unique opportunity to improve our patron's access to books. Let’s not squander that opportunity by simply responding to the anxious initiatives of publishers. What is needed here is a total re-think of how intellectual property can be distributed electronically.

With the entry of e-books to the landscape an odd feature of printed books has taken on salience. The economic essence of print books is based on making a work available, not the actual use of the work. The content creators get compensated even if the intellectual property is never accessed. Most print books sold to the public go unread. A book checked out to a patron denies access to the work by others whether the patron is reading it or not.

E-books don’t need to take on this unfortunate attribute. Why compensate availability when actual use could be fairly compensated? With e-books, the active reading of the book can now define its economic essence and making this change could offer improved access for patrons.

How could such a system work?

All works in the system could be available all the time with as many copies as necessary to meet parton demand. A "satellite-server" on the patron’s device could control a by-the-minute, simultaneous, lease/lend transaction. Whenever the work is actually being read, a meter is running and the library is compensating the IP rights. When the pages stop being turned, the meter turns off. (Amazon already knows exactly when their e-books are being read because they need the information to sync devices.)

The meter also offers a control point. Patron’s free daily usage of a work could be limited, with an option to pay for extensions beyond the daily limit at a rate higher than the library pays, generating cash flow to the library’s leasing budget. The real demand for a work could be compensated and access dramatically improved. Pricing, budgets and limits could be established. Free market. Free libraries.

John Cady
Trustee, Roeliff Jansen Community Library
Hillsdale, NY

Feb. 26 2012 07:39 PM
Alice Jacobs from Waban, MA02468

Really liked the story on libraries on the Cape dealing with increased e usage. But, here at the Waban Library Center, a Newton branch library reopened completely by us volunteers and community support, we don't have e books yet.
We are finding that there's increased demand for all books, not only digital.
So, libraries in these times still are serving a critical need in communities, and in our case, become a community center as well as a restored and reopened branch of the City.
It's all about reading and the books, and keeping libraries open!
Alice Jacobs
Volunteer Director
Waban Library Center
1608 Beacon STreet
Waban, MA 02468

Feb. 23 2012 02:30 PM
Joan McMaster from RI

I enjoy "The Takeaway" program heard here on WGBH in Boston at 6AM and at 9AM surrounding NPR's "Morning Edition" from 7-9AM. As a librarian, I would like a "follow-up"to this e-book discussion today.

Feb. 20 2012 03:45 PM
mark brown from

Ebooks and the industry.

This is round 3. Information STILL wants to be free.

Round 1: RIAA (recording industry of America) vs. individual pirates.
Winner: the public

Round 2: MPAA vs. the american people (copyright changes and PIPA/etc)
Loser: MPAA and the copyrighgt industry

Round 3: the publishers and the Ebook

Loser: Can you predict it?

This is simply a lack of people willing to "kodak" themselves
or to kill their existing product for a new business.

My personal answer?

I don't buy ANY ebooks for my kindle.

I buy/donwload free or 'special offer' $0.00 books..

Feb. 20 2012 08:35 AM

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