HarperCollins Seeks to Limit Digital Lending, Access Patron Data, Generally Piss Off Readers

imagePublishers are looking to limit how libraries do digital lending. It’s infuriating. I’m going to have to go wear my unsexy mouthguard, I’m clenching my jaw to steel-bending proportions the more I read.

Start here: Bobbi L. Newman explained the great crapful news from OverDrive about digital lending:

Digital book sales are now a significant percentage of all publisher and author revenue. As a result several trade publishers are re-evaluating eBook licensing terms for library lending services. Publishers are expressing concern and debating their digital future where a single eBook license to a library may never expire, never wear out, and never need replacement….

Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached.

In other words, the publisher sets a limit to the number of times a digital book can be lent, then when that limit is reached, that library must purchase another copy.

But wait! There’s more! That mysterious “publishers” referred to in the OverDrive email also says they want access to patron information. From the original OverDrive Update (available as a PDF on LibrarianByDay):

our publishing partners have expressed concerns regarding the card issuance policies and qualification of patrons who have access to OverDrive supplied digital content. Addressing these concerns will require OverDrive and our library partners to cooperate to honor geographic and territorial rights for digital book lending, as well as to review and audit policies regarding an eBook borrower’s relationship to the library (i.e. customer lives, works, attends school in service area, etc.).

Let’s not let libraries do their own jobs. That would be a terrible thing.

But Library Journal’s Josh Hadro has the megascoop: guess which publisher it was?


HarperCollins Caps Loans on Ebook Circulations.

In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires.
Mention of the new terms was first made in a letter from OverDrive CEO Steve Potash to customers yesterday. He wrote:

“[W]e have been required to accept and accommodate new terms for eBook lending as established by certain publishers. Next week, OverDrive will communicate a licensing change from a publisher that, while still operating under the one-copy/one-user model, will include a checkout limit for each eBook licensed. Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached.”
Though the letter leaves the publisher unnamed, HarperCollins confirmed today to LJ that it is the publisher referred to.

The publisher also issued a short statement: “HarperCollins is committed to the library channel. We believe this change balances the value libraries get from our titles with the need to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come.”

Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told LJ that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.

Cue me saying, “Oh, Harper. What are you thinking?!”

After library digital lending was a very big topic at Tools of Change and at DBW, it seems we’d taken two symbolic steps forward in using dialogue to bridge the huge gulf between libraries/their patrons and publishers, but while our readerly backs were turned, Harper leaped backwards.

Lip service to the reader, we has some.

With libraries serving as gateways to reading addictions, and an opportunity to try books that readers might not otherwise afford, this decision seems greedy at best and dumbfounding at worst. I understand their desire to equate a paper copy’s disintegration at the hands of multiple readers with the digital copy being lent the same number of times, but the upshot of that policy is to say to libraries, “We want you, with your shrinking budgets and your closing branches, to buy more books. KThxbye!”  This is not a business model that works. It’s a business model that insults readers and libraries.

What do you think? Do you think HarperCollins is taking a step toward preserving its bottom line, or is this a step toward bottoming out their own progress?

ETA: Eric Hellman has a wider-angle examination of the situation, saying, “While I don’t think it’s tenable over the long term for libraries to specialize in inconvenience, I still think it’s very important for libraries to be offering ebooks through services such as Overdrive. Even if the lending models of today turn out to be transitional, they help everyone involved become comfortable with library ebooks. Once the library ebook experience becomes embedded in our everyday lives, readers, publishers, authors and librarians will be able to recognize the novel digital distribution models that benefit everyone.”

ETA: Courtney Milan examines the news from her own reader’s perspective, saying, “Libraries are the future of reading. When the economy is down, we need to make it easier for people to buy and read books for free, not harder. It is stupid to sacrifice tomorrow’s book buyers for today’s dollars, especially when it’s obvious that the source in question doesn’t have any more dollars to give you

ETA: Literary Sluts have an excellent point: “At the end of the day, the only reason I ever recommended the Nook, Sony, or Kobo readers over the Kindle was access to eBooks through your library. I believe today’s announcement is a sign of things to come for Overdrive and that soon there will be no advantage at all to those eReaders.”

ETA: Peter Brantley has a savory idea: “I would love to see ALA and libraries do a hall of shame. For a day: pull off Harper frontlist books from shelves with PR.”

ETA: I found this amazing link: Lendle, a librarian-coordinated network of lending Kindle books to people who want to borrow them. Found via this thought-provoking blog post.


Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. SonomaLass says:

    I could not agree more, except that I don’t have a sexy mouthguard. I may wear my retainer in solidarity, however.

    Kicking libraries and patrons when they are down, financially speaking, is bad publisher PR. While I know a lot of readers don’t pay attention to publisher brands, this may be an exception (and not a beneficial one). Stooopid.

  2. Michael H says:

    I wonder if Overdrive is applying these restrictions to ebooks from all publishers or just those from Harper-Collins. There are bound to be publishers with fewer restrictions on ebook lending.

  3. Alley says:

    26 seems like a strange number considering I’m still number (*checks*) 22 in queue for a new book at my library and I think started out at #45 or so.  Clearly books are being read by more than 26 library patrons before being replaced.  I’d think a policy of licenses being good for two years or something would make more sense, but what do I know?

    I just see this resulting in libraries simply not carrying very much in the way of digital books.

  4. Mireya says:

    Let’s imagine that other publishers follow suit, let’s say, the same 5 that developed what we know as the Agency model for pricing … I “see” a lot more author rants about ebook piracy in our futures that’s fer sure.

  5. SB Sarah says:

    @mireya: oh please no. I hope you are not right. Those author rants make me cringe like cringing has never been cringed before.

  6. Libraries will simply opt not to carry HC’s eBooks. Why bother paying extortionist rates when you carry the veto power? Readers will be the losers in this tussle. Problem for the libraries is that readers will blame the libraries for not carrying e-versions of the books they want. If libraries then proceed to explain to irritated readers who’s to blame for the lack of eBooks, the pub will have potential future paying customers ticked off thereby ensuring that it will lose money in the long term. Short term gain long term pain for the pub; blame for the libraries; nada, zip, nyet for the reader.

  7. Neveth says:

    it was infuriating enough until I got to the 26 limit. Oh please. Even paperbacks make it 26 times before they get so damaged they have to be scrapped. Here’s a newsflash for those people : half the work the back-end of a library does is repair the books. Fix torn covers, glue pages back in, the only breaking point is if a portion of a page with text on it has been torn out.

    oh man. I have such rage for Harper right now.

  8. whiteoak says:

    How can they equate digital copies with hard copies?  And when will they stop trying to sell even more?  I am not putting that correctly but I used to buy paperbacks, I read them, I gave them to my mother, she read them, she gave them to my sister who read them and then the books were given to the local library, either for their shelves or for their sales.  With my NookColor I can’t hardly lend the books out to someone else to read so more copies do need to be bought.  At some point this greediness will need to be tempered with intelligence.

  9. darlynne says:

    Honest to God, could Harper Collins issue a bigger “fuck you” to all of us than this? To the libraries that are barely staying open, to the growing numbers who rely on those struggling libraries?

    You can’t tell me (well, they can try, but my fingers are in my ears) that physical books are only lent 26 times over the course of their lifetime, that libraries replace a book before patron 27 gets to read it? I don’t think so. Protecting their authors? I wish.

    THIS makes me angrier than the douche-bag price-fixing-by-any-other-name agency model. THIS one I’m going to the mat for.

  10. BTW, I’m curious how HC came up with the 26 loans figure. Any librarian will tell you that even mmpbs have a much longer loan life; trades and hcs much much more.

  11. library addict says:

    26 times?  Print books, unless they are totally abused by a library patron, are check-out-able more than 26 times.

    I imagine the geo restrictions thing is mostly aimed at the Free Library of Philadelphia which allows non-US residents to join for an annual fee.  My library also allows out of state membership for a fee, but I think you have to be a US citizen.  Of course, my library doesn’t have ebook lending, but they do use the digital audio book system. 

    Totally NOT cool, Harper Collins.

  12. Emily says:

    Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told LJ that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.

    This stood out to me. I borrow books regularly from the library. It is laughable to think that my library would replace a book after 26 lendings (in a popular release that would be over the span of one-two years). Many of the books in my county library system are donated. The books are worn. They are (sometimes) torn. They are rarely replaced, and especially not after only such a short period of time. This is even more the case for the books that do not come from a donor.

    I don’t have an eReader and I think my library placed their eLending on hold because of issues so right now this doesn’t affect me. I just had to say how laughable I find the comparison of the lifespan of a library book to this new 26 lending policy. It bothers me because decisions like this make me feel like the publishers don’t see the value in the library system. If only they knew how many authors are discovered in the library which then leads to purchases. And that’s their goal, right, to make money?

  13. Amanda says:

    I’m on my local library board.  I’m treasurer.  I know how much $$$ we spend on books and such.  I’m ready to call the publisher with a WTF???  Yeah, they just pretty much shot themselves in the foot.  But, I think there are going to be a lot of growing pains as we move away from print to e formats.  This is just perhaps one of them.

    Protecting authors?  What about garage sales? Many of my book-addicted friends only come out when there are books at a garage sale and nose through all the titles.  No one gets any royalties from the 25 cent box. The person having the garage sale just gets more of an un-cluttered house and more room to buy new books.  What about all the trading of titles that goes on?  I have several friends that I used to trade books with before we all got addicted to our e-readers.  There’s no more “Dude!  You have to read this one.  I’ll drop it off tomorrow!”  Now, it is all “Here is the link!”

    I don’t have the right answers.  I just know that the library’s book budget has taken a beating in the financial crisis.  Now, only 26 licenses per title seems ridiculous.

  14. Ken Houghton says:

    I was thinking more of what a sexy mouthguard looks like, but SonomaLass beat me to it, so to the subject at hand.

    The closest branch I have of the NYPL is Columbus.  Before then, most of my non-Main/SIBL/PA browsing was done at that branch between the subway and 560 Lex (a great branch, btw).

    Both branches have LARGE collections of paperbacks that are—let us be nice—well-read. If the NYPL were still tracking books with individual cards, I would give odds that many of the Belva Plains and Nora Robertses and Judith Tarrs and Barbara Cartlands have been checked out much more than 26 times.

    So we have another advantage (besides the exercise one) to traditional books—HarperCollins doesn’t believe they expire so soon.

  15. Nicole says:

    This makes no sense.  Trying to gouge under-funded libraries to buy extra licences is not the way to make a profit.  Libraries make a one and done purchase even with print (barring a book being mishandled and requiring total replacement).  This sounds like the bright idea of greedy executive who has no idea of library budgets.  The real area to increase profits is in lowering the price point and thus encouraging e-readers who buy their books to make more impulse buys.  I don’t even have an MBA and I can figure this out.

  16. sadiegrrrl says:

    wow, this is a slap in the face to libraries that are struggling just to maintain basic services at this point!

    i completely second library addict’s statement and i would also add that harpercollins should factor in that ebooks are already a difficult sell for a lot of libraries, not all e-readers are compatible (the kindle doesn’t play well with overdrive) and if harpercollins wants to make their books relevant they shouldn’t be enforcing arbitrary limits.  if i ever have a chance to buy ebooks for my collection i will have to think very hard about whether it is worth spending part of my extremely limited budget to get harpercollins’ books knowing that if they’re too popular i will have to spend more money to buy a new digital copy before i would even think to replace the print copy.

    *runs off to retrieve her own super unsexy bite guard*

    p.s. apologies if this comment is at all loopy, i’m all hopped up on antibiotics and over the counter meds to try and fight a sinus infection and things are a little spinny.

  17. Laura says:

    /start sarcasm

    Yes, here’s a truly inspired idea! Let’s make sure that no one can read our books! Let’s make sure we screw the libraries over because they don’t do anything for us! We are going to make so much money!

    /end sarcasm

    When there is no money to pay for something, the license does not get renewed. When the license does not get renewed, you lose readers because your books are not available. When your books are not available, patrons become upset. Librarians then explain the situation and most likely, you lose money from those library patrons for looking like greedy

    hats. I will be one of them.

    When you treat the libraries like diseased lepers, you lose. Period.

    But you look all literary and elite and


  18. Count me as another one who worked at a library nursing the mmpbs through FAR more than 26 lendings. Heck, we had books – and not a few! – in the stacks that were from 1880, with gummed checkout records listing patrons for a hundred years.

    HC is also completely discounting how online patrons check out books. Since I can’t browse or flip through OverDrive’s books, I often check out 50 a day, ten at a time, and immediately “return” virtually all of them. It’s the digital equivalent of pulling them off the shelf and reading the back cover, then setting it back in its place. If that counts as one check-out, HC books are going to get burned through in a couple of days.

    My personal opinion is that their magic number 26 has exactly zero to do with what happens to real library books and exactly everything to do with how many checkouts they see OverDrive typically recording on one of their books. I would guess they’re pushing for at least a 2x purchase over the useful circulating life of the book.

  19. jayhjay says:

    Wow this pisses me off! Such greed!  The poor libraries are already struggling, now we are forces these organization (who do a true public service) to reach into their already shallow pockets to cough up more funds?  Argh

  20. Sara Ramsey says:

    I completely disagree with HarperCollins’ decision to limit libraries to only 26 checkout – but I’m equally alarmed by their request for user data from the libraries. That seems even more onerous for libraries than the 26-checkout rule – how much paperwork would go into that, and would the library even be able to share data legally (or ethically)? That seems like a total nightmare clause that would force libraries to reconsider ebooks even more than the 26-checkout rule.

    However, at least the fact that readers have no idea what the different corporations/imprints are works in HarperCollins’ favor – while there’s been a lot of talk about imprints branding themselves better, at least in this case it’s good for them that readers (outside the writing/library community) don’t have a clue. After all, it’s hard to organize a boycott of a publisher if you have to explain to the boycotters exactly who they’re supposed to be boycotting 🙂

  21. Karen S. says:

    Okay, the idea that 26 checkouts is the “average” lifespan of a book is total bs.  I work for the branches of a small-city library system and one of my recent projects was checking to see if some of the copies of fiction titles at a larger branch could be replaced with those at a smaller branch.  Most of the copies that needed replacing because of actual structural deterioration of the book had gone out about 80+times (if not more—quite a few had gone out 100+times and weren’t too bad).  If a book hadn’t gone out of the larger branch more than 40-50 times, I usually didn’t bother checking the condition.

    They have to be including the books that have damage from something other than normal use—the ones that have been dropped in the bathtub, torn apart by the dog, etc.

    I think, if anything, this will simply mean that HarperCollins’ ebooks won’t be purchased as often by libraries.  I was about to say “unless it’s a very popular item” but then that’s kind of a catch-22; if they buy the really popular items, then the license will expire all the sooner.

  22. Jennifer says:

    This makes me want to become a pirate, offering up all of HarperCollins ebooks that I own on the darknet. How would someone go about doing that?

  23. Pam says:

    What really pisses me off is that as a child, my parents would not buy me books. Why waste money on that when there is a library full of them and the card is free!? So how many young readers are they going to be capping off when the library budget is so fucking thin they can barely buy books anyway, much less continually renew a digital license? The people in NYC with the 1979 print publishing mentality need to take that early retirement plan and let some people in who understand what the customer wants.

  24. Jennifer Armintrout says:

    I cannot understand why anyone in publishing would want to make libraries mad at them.

  25. Sarah W says:

    Libraries do not allow patrons to check out books if they don’t comply with residency or tax-payer requirements—-reciprocities are sanctioned, but card numbers are specific to the home library, and Overdrive already uses those numbers to verify patron eligibility.  Anything more would be redundant and petty.

    This aside, libraries don’t give out patron information without a warrant—and many librarians have gone to jail on obstruction and contempt charges rather than comply with those warrants.  The ALA Code of Ethics forbids the disclosure of patron information.  Period.

    HarperCollins can suck it.

  26. Phyl says:

    Overdrive released their free app just 3 or 4 days ago. After downloading it Wednesday night I started browsing my public library’s very small, but surprisingly broad, collection of digital romance. I couldn’t find anything that didn’t have a hold on it. Most books only had 1-3 holds on them. SEP’s Call Me Irresistible had over 30 holds on it. To compare, my library has 67 copies of that book in paper with over 140 holds on it. Ebooks are still a drop in the bucket and HC is not going to profit from this. I live in Ohio where (for now) we still fund libraries. But we have an idiot for governor, so I don’t expect the funding to continue.

  27. This is just wrong on so many levels.  What’s up with the patron info?  Come on!  And where the heck did 26 come from?  I can maybe see their point after thousands of check outs but 26? Seriously what other factors were they considering because I don’t know if I’ve seen any library book so trashed after 26 check outs that they had to order a new copy to replace it.

  28. Ruth says:

    I’m guessing 26 came from a 2-week average lending period over 52 weeks. That’s the only number that 26 plugs into well, anyway.

    So if that’s what they used to come up with this, then what they’re saying is they only expect a very popular physical library book (the kind that gets checked out/reserved constantly and is always in motion…like Twilight was) to last a year. And that’s ridiculous. While well-read bestsellers do get beat up faster, none of the public libraries I worked at had a problem with constantly having to replace them.

  29. John Crutcher says:

    I think it may be premature to say that Harper is requiring access to patron information. I can think of several scenarios where Harper’s concerns about card issuance policies and qualification of patrons could be adressed without providing them one whit of information about specific patrons.

    And, while I understand the heat about this change in their policies (and whether 26 is at all a reasonable limitation), I think we all be howling about the fact that neithr Simon &Schuster; or Macmillan are willing to provide ANY of their ebooks to libraries under ANY condition. Harper looks less outrageous next to them.

  30. Limecello says:

    I’ve been tweeting about this with others – :X skimmed what you wrote – read the Library Journal article… 26 definitely won’t work. I utilize my library’s e-collection and have been patron number 22, or higher on a hold list, for a pre-release title. And then people put the book on hold after me. That means there’s a high probability of people not even getting the book/being part of the list before the book is even out in the open. And I can’t see the library just buying more copies over and over.
    This makes me so sad, and so disappointed. As well as frustrated.

  31. hapax says:

    I think, if anything, this will simply mean that HarperCollins’ ebooks won’t be purchased as often by libraries.

    Well, I just talked to my director, and we both agreed that we wouldn’t be ordering any more of their books for our e-collection.  We’ve only offered e-books for a couple years, and many popular titles have already circulated in the 30’s and 40’s.

    Which, unfortunately, is what I expect is *exactly* what the publisher wants.  Some suit is surely thinking right now, “Yay!  Now people who want to read the latest release from X Author will buy it from us, instead of checking it out from the library!” 

    And yep, the public WILL blame the library for not having what they want, not the publisher for making it too expensive for us to purchase.

  32. Ann Marie says:

    Hapax, do you think a patron would buy an e-version if the library didn’t have it, or would they check out a hard copy? For myself in print, I’m not picky about hardback, paperback, large print, whatever. E-book readers have a gizmo, though, so maybe they are more wedded to format . . . once again I’m left thinking the publishers don’t know much about consumer behavior with their products.

  33. Jane says:

    Part of me is so fed up that I just want to throw the towel in.  Digital book adoption will march on without the big 6.  If they want to institute policies that decreases their visibility and creates barriers to discovery, why should we readers really care?  Ultimately they are only hurting ourselves.

    I am only interested in helping my library out and make sure my fellow patrons understand that these problems are not the fault of the library.

  34. Lizabeth S. Tucker says:

    My response to HarperCollins, sent in an email, was as follows: 

    ***I recently read of your determination to limit digital library lending of books from your publishing company.  Limiting was bad enough, but the chosen amount of 26 lends before a library must *rebuy* the book makes no real sense.  According to what I read, you somehow determined that this is the number of times a book can be checked out before the library must replace it.  This shows me just how clueless you are and the lack of anything resembling research.  Perhaps a librarian could assist you with that.

    Libraries are short of funds, particularly during these hard times.  Their response will quite likely be to not buy any of your books at all for lending.  This will have the result of not introducing new readers to some of your authors, new and old.  It will also be a very bad public relations ploy.  Readers are knowledgeable.  We talk to each other, we are a force to be reckoned with.  I expect to see a actual purchaser consider long and hard whether buying a book from you will be worth supporting a company such as you.

    I know it probably means exactly nothing to you, but I will no longer be buying any books published by your company, whether in digital or physical form.  I cannot in good conscience support your brainless policies.  I shall miss reading new books from such wonderful writers as Elizabeth Peters, Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich, and so many others.

    Farewell, HarperCollins.***

    I shall be interested to see if I receive a response from them.

    gave59 ~ I’ve more than given these greedy publishers 59 chances.  It is now at an end.

  35. TracyP says:

    That mysterious “publishers” referred to in the OverDrive email also says they want access to patron information.

      Snort.  When the federal government demanded patron records via the Patriot Act, librarians said ‘go fuck yourselves.”  What makes them think that publishers will get anywhere with this?

    In other words, the publisher sets a limit to the number of times a digital book can be lent, then when that limit is reached, that library must purchase another copy.

      It’ll never happen.  Libraries will simply quit purchasing e-books.  The only work around might be to charge for e-books, say $1 a book?  50 cents?  Some libraries have had to start charging for interlibrary loans because of the slice to their budgets.  They’re certainly not going to drop any more money on e-books that will only be good for a year or so. 

    HarperCollins is actively pricing itself out of a very lucrative market.

  36. Joe says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know if anyone has already got here, but here goes: A new book costs $25, sale priced at $15 – a book that must be printed, wholesaled, shipped, stocked, and then purchased.  E-books cut out all of the middle men, and yet they cost almost as much as printed book.  Why?  If I’m going to read a book once, why should I buy a copy at full price. 

    Libraries will always circulate reading material as long as the prices are artificially high. If publishers want people to buy the books they read, they should make the prices reflect their costs. 

    (Mr. Rogers voice): Can you say greedy bastards?  I knew you could.

  37. becca says:

    Who publishes Nora Roberts? I’d really hate to have to quit my Nora Roberts addiction, but if it’s HC, I’ll do it.

    I’m sure that asking for user data is to make sure people don’t try to get around the stupid geographical restrictions, but I can’t see any library being willing to go along with supplying them with user data.

    Don’t they see that they’re only encouraging piracy? Even the music industry wasn’t this stupid. It’s enough to make me want to don eye-patch and cutlass and start singing Yo Ho.

  38. Lisa Hendrix says:

    SEP’s Call Me Irresistible had over 30 holds on it. To compare, my library has 67 copies of that book in paper with over 140 holds on it.

    And there’s exactly what HC is trying to address, both for their own benefit and the authors’: ONE copy sold and loaned out (potentially forever)  vs SIXTY-SEVEN copies sold/loaned out until they fall apart and have to be replaced.

    I’m all for reader accessibility, but if popular authors like SEP or Nora suddenly get only 1/67th of the library sales right up front—not counting any replacement copies sold down the road—how long do you think they and the publishers will be able to stay in business? How about if, instead of a big bad NY publisher, it’s a self-pubbed mother from Ohio who sells 1 copy/library instead of 67 copies/library? Does that make the picture look different? If publishers succeed in establishing a standard of practice for library lending of ebooks, that standard can protect the small fry, too.

    There’s already incredible pressure to devalue books toward $0, based on the premise that “information wants to be free” — a nonsensical idea that ignores the work of the creators or gatherers of that information. Compound that with the notion that just because an ebook is infinitely replicable, it should be *freely* replicable unto infinity and you’re telling authors they should be working for nothing but the honor of being read.

    I’m also floored by the argument that the fact that the economy is tight justifies making books free for libraries/patrons at the expense of those who write and publish them. That’s nice. Can I use your car tomorrow. I can’t afford a new one and yours has already been paid for once, so it should be available to everyone now, right? If you’re a bookkeeper, can I get you to do my taxes for free? I can’t afford to pay, and the tax code is public domain, after all. Sew these pants for me. You own your sewing machine outright, and it’s sitting there unused. It’s just your time. No big deal. I’m entitled because the economy sucks.

    The irony is that some of the folks arguing for infinite reproduction without additional pay for the creators (not necessarily the voices here…but then again, maybe so) get really, REALLY pissed when someone “steals” their blog posts, reviews, etc. and posts them as their own. Just as pissed as I get when I see a pirated copy of one of my books on 85 different torrent sites…or when I think of someone buying one copy for 300 people to read instead of, say, 50 copies. Or even 10.

    This isn’t an easy problem to solve. I’m not fully in favor of the HC approach—especially not their demand for patron data. I hope all libraries refuse to supply that, just as they have refused to supply borrower information to the feds. But I totally understand and appreciate HC’s attempt to address the problem of infinite reproducibility early on. The details will no doubt be negotiated and adjusted over time, but we need to have a starting place. This is as good as any.

    That said, the HC claim that 26 checkouts would be an average lifespan for a book is nonsense. I worked in libraries in the days of the little paper due date flaps. Good hardbacks went through flap after flap stamped full of hundreds of due dates. A really well-made hardback on good paper can last nearly forever—just ask the British Library. Paperbacks, otoh, failed early and spectacularly, with as few as ten checkouts (tho that was before the current plasticized protective coatings). At any rate, there should clearly be different “lifespans” assigned to paperback originals and hardback originals — although that distinction may soon disappear.

    What’s needed is hard data, not a publisher guesses. Perhaps the first thing that should happen, then, is for librarians to compile accurate information on how many times paperbacks and hardback are checked out on average before they’re disposed or replaced in the real world. Then there’d be facts on the table that could genuinely inform the conversation.

  39. LVLMLeah says:

    but I’m equally alarmed by their request for user data from the libraries. That seems even more onerous for libraries than the 26-checkout rule –

    Yes, this is what rang out for me too. It’s none of HC’s business where I live, work I do, schools near by. NONE. OF. THEIR. BUSINESS! I mean, really, how many libraries give overseas persons access to their library? I don’t know about other places, but when you get a library card where I live, you have to show something with an address on it. But it’s just the distrust of libraries that they are being sneaky and lending out books to all and sundry around the world that bites as well. WTF?

    As far as forcing a renewal after 26 lends, that’s even more ridiculous. Most new books coming out have a waiting list of at least 50 -100 people. Are they freaking serious?

    Another publisher now I won’t buy from or take a book from the library to read.

  40. lexie says:

    I work in a library (five branches large) that offers e-book rentals. Our budget is down almost sixty percent from what it was two years ago. I can’t see us continuing to purchase titles over and over. I update our collection. This past week, I was working on titles with over 40-50 check-outs a year….over several years. Twenty-six? Someone pulled that number from their nether regions.

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