HarperCollins limits public library check-outs
I’ve written about the issue of the Kindle and public libraries several times, and there is no question that it is still one of the most common topics that comes up in the Amazon Kindle community.
However, I think it’s the concept of checking books out of the library that attracts people…not the reality.
That makes sense, of course…you can’t know what checking an e-book out of the public library will feel like until you can do it.
I think a lot of people assume that the library can lend out an e-book as often as they want…it’s just a file on a computer, right?
Well, it doesn’t work that way. The file has limitations built into it, using something called DRM (Digital Rights Management).
That’s used to enforce the license under which the e-book is bought.
Unlike your personal license from the Kindle store, a library e-book may have a “one person at a time limitation”.
That part is similar to a paperbook: if the library wants to lend out ten copies of a paperbook at one time, that library has to buy ten copies.
That’s why you often have to get on a waiting list to get an e-book from the public library.
That would be okay, though…you could wait if you wanted, right?
Not for two of the “Big Six”: Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. They don’t have a deal for their e-books to be in public libraries at all.
Now, according to this
HarperCollins is going to put a new limitation on library e-books.
They are going to limit the number of times the book can circulate to twenty-six.
That’s right: after the library e-book has been checked out twenty-six times, the library would have to buy another license if they wanted to have the same number.
That’s a year’s worth of constant loaning for a two-week period.
Paperbooks in a library also wear out, of course…but this is artificial wear. They aren’t actually wearing out…we are just pretending they do.
Seriously, though, this is a new limitation…which means a new burden on libraries.
No question, the argument can be made that, since, the e-books don’t wear out, the authors don’t get as many royalties.
Of course, that was true when e-books first started circulating from libraries as well.
I would guess that HarperCollins is only the first.
It’s not like this is going to be front-page news or on the crawl at the bottom of your TV screen. I think the PR hit will be a small one…twenty-six is an odd number for a report.
Bottom line: before you make a decision to by one EBR (E-Book Reader) over another based on public library lending, go to OverDrive.com. Look not just at the books they have, but whether or not you can get them.
One solution is for the library to just check out Kindles…I’ve talked about that before, and I think that can work very well.
What do you think about this? Is HarperCollins protecting the authors? Would this affect your choice of EBR? Feel free to let me know.
* Thanks to Eclectic Reader in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads up on this article.
UPDATE: HarperCollins has released an
It talks about the reasoning behind the policy.
I’d have to say this was one of the most interesting sections:
” If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book’s life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price point. Our hope is to make the cost per circulation for e-books less than that of the corresponding physical book. In fact, the digital list price is generally 20% lower than the print version, and sold to distributors at a discount. “
First, it’s possible that the price will be lower on a second purchase…but there wasn’t a second purchase at all before. I also find the flat statement that the price will be lowered with a paperback release…I don’t see that as a guaranteed scenario, especially if mass market paperbacks are a greatly reduced market force. Third, I don’t know where they are getting the 20% figure…or that they are “sold to distributors”. HarperCollins uses the Agency Model: they don’t sell the book to a distributor, they pay them a commission for selling it. That’s a technical thing, though. They also give a special e-mail address in the letter. I’m not posting that here, because I think it’s more fair to them that you read their letter before you get to it
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.