Friday Videos Have More than 26 Checkouts

From reader Gry, a link to this marvelous video from Pioneer Library Systems’ Virtual Library, which shows off what more than 26 checkouts looks like in a physical book.

My favorite part: Harper Collins offers a lifetime guarantee of their copy of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline.” Mmmmmmm. Irony.

This video is long, but I learned from it, particularly what types of damage librarians consider easily fixable.

Link to the video? Right here.

You can read their Open Letter from the Pioneer Library System to HarperCollins about their decision to limit check outs of digital books to 26, and requiring additional purchase after the limit is met. As they say in their letter, “Despite statements to the New York Times that  HarperCollins hopes this move will, “ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come,” it may, in fact, do just the opposite. Many of our collection development policies require us to look at longevity to insure we are being good stewards of the public monies. HarperCollins has now ensured that their eBooks are forced in to obsolescence and off our virtual shelves and away from consumers with[out] the means to purchase these titles in print or electronically for themselves. It is our hope that HarperCollins will re-evaluate their decision to put checkout limits on their eBook titles.

Hear, hear. Well done, librarians. Keep kicking ass.



Friday Videos

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  1. 1
    AgTigress says:

    Fascinating information in that video.  I think it makes the point, very clearly, that the ‘26’ was dreamt up by people who don’t know a library book from the back of a bus.

  2. 2
    H. Vert says:

    Makes me wonder about the longevity of the e-books, if HarperCollins is worried about more than 26 checkouts per book.  Which makes me concerned for the longevity of the e-books I’ve already purchased; I don’t want to worry about having my copies break down or whatever.

  3. 3
    Sarah W says:

    The Pioneer Library system has class.

    I checked, and our library has at leas two Harper-Collins mass market paperbacks that have weathered over thirty checkouts. 

    Are the spines uncreased?  Perhaps not, but the covers are still attached, and there’s no yellowing.  And the words haven’t worn off the pages, yet.  Imagine that.

    Sigh. . .

  4. 4
    Jessica says:

    Fantastic stuff! You go, librarians.

  5. 5
    quichepup says:

    Woo-Hoo! I know that library! That’s the Norman branch!

    I’m a proud Pioneer (Cleveland County) Library System card carrier. The Norman branch is awesome. My son who is in library school at OU in Norman loves this library too. I’m glad to see them here, they deserve all the kudos.

    I wonder what Metropolitan Library System, my local libraries, are planning to do about their ebooks. They are bigger and have a much larger budget than Pioneer, which serves primarily rural communities. I’d love to see them team up with Pioneer. I’d love to see other systems across the country team up with them and bring HC to their friggin’ knees.

  6. 6
    Donna says:

    Yeah, what they said.
    And everytime this has come up I’ve gotten a Mission Impossible video in my head: “As always Mr. Phelps, if you or your team exceed the use policy we will disavow all knowlege of your actions. This e-book will self destruct in 26 check outs.”

  7. 7
    Kathleen says:

    Hooray Pioneer Library System!  This is my primary library and I absolutely love it.

  8. 8
    Lori says:

    All this business about limiting check outs of ebooks just makes me think that HarperCollins hates libraries and hates people who read books for “free” and that the only reason they don’t limit check outs of physical books is because they can’t. Now that ebooks give them that power their true colors are coming through.

    IOW, bite me HarperCollins.

  9. 9
    Joy says:

    I thought the Harper Collins contention that the “lifespan” of a book is 26 circuations absolutely RIDICULOUS.  When I worked at our public library I found that some of our romance novels were beginning to look a little worn with the spine FINALLY cracked and in need of re-binding after—-109 circulations!  Yep, you read that right.  We have LOTS of romances in our library cause they are very popular.  AND, a lot of romance authors insist on writing trilogies or series with the same character.  Some of the older Rex Stout mysteries are still being read and loaned on interlibrary loan decades after they were published.  26 circulations—piffle!  We’d probably weed that sucker if it only got 26 circulations.  Yep, cause we would loan our romances and mysteries, etc. we are LOVED by libraries all over the country eager to find that first book in a series for their user who just discovered (fill in the blank) and wants to read all of them.  Imagine just reading your first J.D. Robb now after Treachery in Death has come out and wanting to go back to when Dallas first met Roarke, etc.  You’d have to find a library that kept buying and buying and buying and buying….that first book, Naked in Death, from 1995 every time it reached 26 circulations.  (Ha, we had more than 26 holds on Treachery in Death before it ever arrived on the shelves.)  Almost no library has the money to do that….but maybe that’s the point Harper Collins wants to make—to reform society so nasty things like public libraries which just keep using their books will go away and let them make LOTS more money.

  10. 10
    Lisa says:

    Three cheers for the Pioneer librarians for boycotting future HC e-books.  May other libraries follow suit.

    Captcha is took83.  A more realistic number, perhaps?

  11. 11
    JenD says:

    Damn, I love librarians.

  12. 12
    becca says:

    I’ve heard rumors that this is a move toward limiting the number of times an ebook can be read even by legitimate purchasers.

  13. 13
    Suzannah says:

    That was a really interesting video.  26 is a crazy number!  I reserved a paperback thriller from my library recently, and when it arrived it seemed (at least in comparison with that hardback they showed in the video) to have been through the hands of at least 200 patrons (many of them recreational nose-pickers, by the look of it).  And still they were lending it out.  And all the pages were there, and the words were on them, and so OK I had to wrap the book in a plastic bag when I wasn’t reading it because it smelled like someone had smoked 5,000 cigarettes right on top of it, but the library was *still lending it out*.

  14. 14
    LG says:

    @becca – Oh, I hope not. That sounds like a surefire way to encourage non-adoption of e-books by those who are still on the fence (people like me) and piracy by those who are now e-only – not good for anyone, publishers, authors, or readers. However, quite a few publishers have already shown that they are incapable of considering the full consequences of their decisions, so who knows?

  15. 15
    Suzannah says:

    @becca – then that would just kill ebooks as a concept, I think.  I’ve never been concerned about not being able to lend them to friends (darned friends resist romancelandia and insist on crime novels), or read them on multiple devices, or most of the other things that people complain they’re restricted from doing, but the absolute minimum I expect is to be able to read them again!!  Otherwise I may as well just go to the library (for a hard copy, obviously ;-) ). 

    case68 – this is a case in which I would read the 68 amazon freebies I have on my Kindle and then stick to Project Gutenberg.  I could finally read some of those classics ;-)

  16. 16
    Gwynnyd says:

    @Becca – which only goes farther towards proving that e-books are not owned, they are leased. I won’t pay the same price for leased pixels as would pay for something I can actually own (without going through illegal shennanigans to strip DRAM).

  17. 17
    geekgirl says:

    @ LG and becca
    I agree, all that will do is encourage more piracy, making a self fulfilling prophecy for the paranoid lunatics in the industry. Limiting the number of time I can read my own copy?! Well, I guess I’d just stop BUYING them all together. At least the only time I need to replace a paper book is if I stupidly lend it out, or I drop it in the bathtub. 
    Limiting ebooks available at libraries is going to encourage piracy way more though. Even now if I hear about an author I “just have to try” I’m not going to go out and buy their first book. I’m going to go to the library. If they don’t have it, my next step is a torrent site, not the book store. I equate it with being lent the book. If I like it, I buy my own copy. If I love it, I go out and buy it AND the rest of the series. If I hate it, I delete. The more I hear about these idiots in the industry, the closer I am to the point that I’ll be pirating everything and sending the authors a check.

  18. 18
    Sarah W says:

    As a librarian, the 26 circulations is laughable. There are books that I get rid of that quickly, but I have children’s books circulating 200 times. Heck I’ve weeded dozens of Berenstain Bears books that have circed 250 times. I’m a children’s librarian, so I’m most familiar with those statistics, but I have picture books that circulate 100 times over three years, because as soon as they come in they leave. The reason why adult books don’t circulate as much is that people keep them longer and they don’t stay as popular as long.

    My library is just getting into e-books, but they try to focus on classics and educational topics, so they probably wont be buying any popular expiring titles. They are into books for the long haul.

    captcha passed65, as in I’ve passed on weeding books that have only checked out 65 times.

  19. 19
    kkw says:

    So this ebook doesn’t feel as nice or smell as nice, you can’t lend it or give it away when you’re done with it, we can take it back without warning if we feel like it…but printing and bookbinding have really shit the bed, and theoretically your ebook could last forever. Wait, an advantage to ebook? Let’s just pretend that’s not true.

  20. 20
    Lyssa says:

    The whole 26 checkout number for HC e-books is rediculous. If they want to do a library ‘price’ vs normal price that would make sense. (I know some publishers do this.) The 26 number adds up to ONE year of continuous 14 day checkouts. 52 weeks. So what HC wants is libraries to replace their ebooks every year. So don’t count on borrowing HC books (Kim Harrison, Sarah Palin, Susan Elizabeth Phillips for example) from your library in ebook format. I wonder if they are doing the same thing with their audio books?

  21. 21
    Cayla Kluver says:

    That is fascinating.  I hadn’t heard about HarperCollins’ e-book checkout rules, and those librarians are definitely opening eyes.  I’m going to be sharing that letter all over the place.

  22. 22
    Karen says:

    Regarding the question of whether they will limit the number of times someone can read their own ebooks (rather than a borrowed ebook), isn’t that something that would need to be specified prior to purchase?  Legally, I can’t see how the publishers could change the rules after the fact…  Though I’m not sure of all of the legal details in purchasing an ebook!  Anyone have any insight?  (Because I know that I have some favorites on my shelves I have read more than 26 times…)

    heart66 – I’ve been liking ebooks, but all of this mess is starting to break my heart!

  23. 23
    TracyP says:

    I’ve forwarded the open letter to my own library system in hopes of making this go viral.  I’m digusted with HarperCollins, and it’s making me rethink my e-reader.  What’s going to happen in a few years when technology changes yet again?  Are my faves gone for good? 

    As far as the checkouts, anything less than 150 for the license is unreasonable.  If you get an author like James Patterson, he easily has 100+ reserves on it before it even arrives in the library for cataloging.  And it’s nothing to patch up a book and recirculate it, giving a long and happy shelf life. 

    I’m just floored.

  24. 24
    becca says:

    @Karen: technically, when you buy a DRM’d ebook, you’re *not* buying the book. You’re only buying a license to read the file on selected ebook reader(s). That’s why so many people routinely break the DRM on any book they purchase: so that they can actually own the book, not just have a limited license to read it. There’s no intention of sharing the book or committing any level of piracy, it’s just to protect the ability to read the book on any device they choose.

  25. 25
    Jen B. says:

    Thanks for sharing this video.  26 is such a weird, random number for Harper Collins to choose.  Our local library system is so strapped for cash that we no longer have libraries open 7 days a week.  And now they will have to deal with this?

  26. 26
    ev says:

    I am to the point where piracy is starting to look good- and I abhor the thought. Maybe if I contact the author’s they can tell me how much they would have rec’d had I purchased the book and I will happily, gleefully send them a check for that amount, thereby bypassing the idiot publishers??? Especially since this month’s book budget went into buying an new hot water heater yesterday.

    what really craps is I work for the company that owns one of those asshat publishers- and even with my employee discount I can’t read the ebooks they have on our site because they aren’t compatible with my ereader. One of these days I will try one and shove it thru Calibre and see if I can make it work.

    catchword- certain73. I am certain even 73 circs would still cover their greedy little bottom line.

  27. 27
    HelenMac says:


    That is all.

  28. 28
    Thalia says:

    I think Lyssa nailed it why Harper Collins picked 26 check-outs.  That’s one year of circulation, at the standard 2-weeks per check-out policy.  They effectively want libraries to re-buy books every year. 

    The high likelihood of shenanigans of this sort is a big part of the reason I haven’t gone to e-books yet.  The EULA on the e-book readers and e-books themselves says “and the publisher can change the rules on you any time, because you don’t own this book.” I’m not OK with that.  I’d rather own my copy.

    known68:  I’ve known at least 68 completely unreasonable license changes in contracts with EULAs of this sort (38 from Facebook alone).

  29. 29
    katieM says:

    When I was a little girl, I loved the Trixie Belden books.  Loved them like cake!  I read them over and over and over again.  And I saved them.  I hoped to share them with my daughters one day.  Alas, I’ve never found that someone to have children with so the books sit on my shelf in near pristine condition ( I’ve always had this idea that books are precious and should be read with care so as to not damage them at all!  My family used to think I had multiple copies of books because I kept them looking like new.  I could always tell when my mother had read one of my books because the spine would have a little crease)  It is 35 years later and I still have that collection of books along with Nancy Drew and other books that I loved.  I haven’t jumped over to ebooks for that very reason.  I love the feel of a real book in my hand.  I love rereading my books as many times as I want.  I love placing a book mark at my favorite parts so that I can go back and reread those passages.  If I can only read a book a predetermined number of times for a limited frame of time, then I what is the point? 

    I use the library to find new authors and have a steady supply of books for my nieces and my classroom.  Unless they can come up with a better scheme, I think Harper Collins is about to lose a lot of business.  I don’t know of any teacher who can afford to rebuy books every year.  I know that libraries can’t. 

    My captcha phrase is only89.  Does that mean that I can only read and share a book 89 times before is disappears?  That’s a lot better than 26!

  30. 30
    Smokey says:

    Oh I hope this idea of limiting check outs or reading times goes away fast.  Just imagine buying a dictionary with this kind of limit.  You get to look up 26 words, just 26 so go ahead and guess what word #27 means.

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