From the Op/Ed:
The Toronto Public Library, the largest in the country, has launched a new platform of penny-pinching ingenuity. The “Sell Books to the Library” program advertises to readers that it will buy used hardcover copies of bestselling titles listed on its website at the beginning of every month at five dollars a piece.
This innocuous sounding program is but the latest manifestation of the so-called “culture of free” that has ravaged the media, music and book worlds. Without the FBI threatening quarter-million-dollar fines or five year prison terms for copyright infringement — as it does on DVDs — the value system that supports the prospect of just reward is eroded. Individuals and companies used to paying nothing for artists’ work now do so without compunction.
And now the Toronto Public Library is zealously joining the cheapskates’ fray. The books it has listed on its “Sell Books to the Library” website page are not books that the public does not want; their authors are not ones who, the great lie of media and festivals, stand to benefit from extra publicity. No, the list is comprised of books so popular that the library is having a hard time meeting existing demand.
Instead of ordering copies of books that furnish a royalty, and supporting the trade, as all honourable purchases do, the TPL is buying off the back of a public truck it has ushered into the courtyard, depriving writers and the companies that invest in them of their just reward. It can do so because it has decided that the lowest possible price to be paid is the right one.