The Economist Reports on eBooks and Public Libraries
From The Economist:
In publishers’ eyes librarians are “sitting close to Satan”, declared Phil Bradley, president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. He was addressing indignant librarians who recently gathered in London to swap tales of e-lending woe. Some publishers have refused to sell their e-books to public libraries, made them prohibitively costly or put severe restrictions on their use. Although 71% of British public libraries lend out e-books, 85% of e-book titles are not available in public libraries, according to Mr Bradley. In America the average public library makes available only 4,350 e-books (Amazon, an online retail giant, stocks more than 1.7m).
Some libraries have tried paying publishers each time an e-book is lent out. In Denmark libraries used to pay around 17 Danish kroner ($3) per digital loan, but even with a price as high as that the country’s largest publisher pulled out. It feared that e-lending was cannibalising print sales. Besides, in some countries it is illegal to charge people for library use. Some want the industry to offer subscriptions for bundles of books, much as universities buy their academic journals. However, publishers worry that this may degrade customers’ and libraries’ perceptions about the value of books.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.