Thursday, March 10, 2011

Only 26 Checkouts!

Wow, this is big you guys.

HarperCollins has changed its policy on ebook checkouts for libraries.  Before, we were allowed unlimited checkouts of ebooks published by HarperCollins.  Now, after 26 checkouts, the license will expire and the library will be required to buy that ebook again if they want to circulate it.  In theory, an ebook can reach 26 checkouts in about a year.

They say this equals one year of use for a popular title.  But the thing is, many of our books are kept for a long time.  And we don't buy replacement copies unless the book is damaged beyond repair.

I mean, I completely understand that this is beneficial to the author, in theory.  But now, the library I work at can't buy HarperCollins ebooks anymore.  They can't afford to buy a new one every 26 checkouts.  Since we usually only have one or two copies of an ebook available for check out, it'll reach 26 pretty fast.  So the author loses anything they may have made with just one purchase of their ebook. (not to mention publicity for themselves)

I would understand if they said libraries had to re-buy them after say, 5 years, or even 3.  It's just so complicated when it comes to ebooks anymore.  I don't know what would be the best practice, and I don't know how I would feel or if my views would change if/when I become a published author.

I'm not bashing the decision, because I can see both sides of the argument.  It's just interesting, and right now since I work at the library, I'm seeing it through their eyes.

Here is the link to the article in The Library Journal.

What do you think about this?  Is this going to interfere with ebooks in libraries?  Will it affect the author?  Do you think the rest of the big houses will follow?

21 comments:

Summer Frey said...

I'd heard about that, and while I can see their point of view, I don't see why they can't embrace the fact that is IS an ebook--and possibly a book that the library wouldn't have purchased otherwise.

I live in too rural an area to have ebooks available at the library, unfortunately.

D U Okonkwo said...

Wow, things are changing aren't they, thought I'm stil partial to the old fashioned ink adn paper.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Abby,

I wish I can comment on this. I had no idea that you could check out ebooks at a library...

It shocks me...lol Where have I been? WRITING!

Michael

Colene Murphy said...

HA! I didn't know you could check out ebooks at the library either...

But okay, I see the library side more than the other of it. I mean, some library books last for a WAY long time. Even if the library had to rebuy the book after a year would be better than 26. Hmm. Interesting.

Kindros said...

If it works, everyone else will fall in line. The only way for this to be stopped is to inform the public and have them stop checking out ebooks from that publisher. It will hurt the library as well, but if you feel it is an unfair practice, let it be known.

Your idea of having them rebuy every few years is a better idea I believe.

T C Mckee said...

Um...I didn't even know you could check out an e-book either. I seriously have to get with it.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Will have to think about this. Just published two eBooks and not yet in the library only the paperback copies.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought about it that way - that libraries would just drop the book after twenty-six.

Heather said...

You're right, it's very complicated. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet but I can't see it working out well for the either party. I don't think it's the answer but I'm not sure what is.

Donea Lee said...

I know that the actual book copies at my libary for newer titles are EXTREMELY hard to get! I started at # 242 on hold for "Matched" a few months ago and I think I'm down to....108, maybe? Imagine that as an e-book. As e-books take over, however (which seems inevitable) I think publishers might need to change that checkout limit. Time will tell...

Dana said...

Ick... I don't like it at all. It just seems like a sneaky way to get more money out of libraries which are already struggling. :P

Jessica Bell said...

That is so weird. Of course, I understand why, but still. How much cheaper is an e-book? Say it's one third of the price of a hard copy? But surely a hard copy gets more than 3 years of use out of it! I don't know. Never worked in a library. What you think?

Michelle Merrill said...

Wow. That's interesting. I agree that maybe after 3 years they'd have to buy it again, but 26 copies? That's kind of a short period of time.

Thanks for sharing this.

I hope you're having a great week :)

Melissa said...

That doesn't make sense that it's only every 26... I mean, the library just won't renew the book and that's it. There are books in my library that have been there since I was like 9. That's TWELVE years (and I know it's the same cause I totally wrote in it.....)

The point is...is that if they let the library have it for five years or something... at least... I could understand that more. But for such a short period of time? I mean, 26 could go by really fast...especially if it's a popular book. And, if people read a book in the library..and they LOVED it, chances are they are going to go out and buy it ANYWAYS. And tell others about it. Harper could be doing more harm than good with this one....

Jolene Perry said...

Wow. Interesting.

I get it, but like you, I can see both sides.

And I too, didn't know you could check out ebooks...

Nahno McLein said...

Who came up with 26?

I think it's not enough. I'm thinking about student libraries as well, some books are needed or liked by hundreds of students, how would that work? paying for a book every 3 months?

I think you need to renew it after time. I mean, books can be rented by hundreds of people before you need a new one.
Nahno ∗ McLein

erica and christy said...

We have one shelf devoted to YA at my local library, so you can imagine how small/rural it is. I check out a ton of books, but haven't ever known how many times they've been checked out.

Thanks for your viewpoint from "the other side of the desk"!
erica

Jennie Bailey said...

I can see both sides of this, but there is going to have to be a compromise. It will happen after the first few years when the publishers realize that they're not getting renewals on those ebooks. I think at that point it might be worth re-evaluating to set a year limit so that more libraries can afford them. We have three libraries in my city and their budgets are tiny. I can't imagine this is going to go over well with them.

And Melissa - you crack me. You totally wrote in them. Um, when you were 9, right? You're not still writing in them? ;-)

Jennifer Hillier said...

This is how clueless I am - I didn't know you could check out ebooks from libraries!

Gosh, I'm not sure what to think. My first impression is that 26 checkouts really doesn't seem like much.

alexia said...

I heard about this at Pimp My Novel... yeah, I see it both ways, but mostly I think it's greedy. A library is a public service entity. So I agree with you that a limit is fair, but should be much longer than 26 times.

Jen Daiker said...

This is tough. I can see both point of views, as one who visits the library often that would stink as far as the news for ebooks. Then again I guess it does support the author more. I suppose I'll just have to be one of the first for the title!

Regardless I'm not one to borrow ebooks from the library so I'd say I'm safe.