Saturday, March 5, 2011

How’s Your Local Library Doing These Days?

A librarian friend e-mailed me this week to say, “The whole digital world seems to be changing daily, so it is great to have your site to go to for all the up-to-date info.”

This made me wonder if librarians feel the same way bank tellers felt when ATMs were invented. Nervous. Insecure. Wondering what the future holds. Library customers are turning to them with technical questions about borrowing e-books, and librarians are needing to learn the ropes regardless of their interest or aptitude for technology. They are stocking less print books and more e-books, plus they are dealing with shrinking budgets as cities, counties and states all strive to cut their budgets.

Which leads us to this week’s news: HarperCollins has announced  that any of their new titles in e-book format that are bought by libraries will only be allowed to circulate 26 times before the license deal expires. Then the library will need to re-purchase the book.

The thinking of HarperCollins is if the library had bought a print book, by the time it was lent out 26 times it would be worn out and would need to be replaced with a new copy. They want to maintain their sales by keeping the same “gotta buy a new one” mentality, even though an e-book never wears out. Even though it costs next to nothing for HarperCollins to produce the e-book. If they’ve already produced it in print, all they are doing is formatting it for the e-platform. No additional editing costs, no paper costs, no shipping costs, no warehousing costs.

On one hand we have libraries with tight budgets, being required to buy “replacement” e-books when their original purchase is still perfectly usable. On the other hand we have HarperCollins (and their authors) trying to make a profit in this fast-changing world of publishing. 

The bestseller list has been updated as usual, and at last I can say I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is actually number four in two stores -- Barnes and Noble Teens and Sony Ebookstore!