Librarians Launch Boycott in Battle Over Ebooks

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It looks like everyone is still trying to figure out this whole ebooks thing. According to USA Today, the latest battle pits librarians against a respected publisher.

HarperCollins is limiting the circulation of library ebooks to 26 loans. After that, it's digital midnight and the book vanishes. In order to continuing carrying the title, the libraries must lease the same title again for a fee. Facing their own budget constraints, some outraged librarians have decided to boycott HarperCollins. They're using blogs, Twitter and other social media to get the word out.

Libraries generally lend ebooks out at a time like they do with tree-books. Some major publishers, like Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, don't sell e-books to libraries.

According to the USA Today article, it's just the latest dispute brought on by the explosion of ebooks. Publishers have gone up against online retailer Amazon over prices and publishers are wrangling with agents and authors over royalties and rights.

HarperCollins addressed the issue in on open letter to librarians. On its Library Love Fest blog, the publisher invites libraries to continue the discussion.

"We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel."


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