Like many librarians this week, my thoughts have been dominated by the recent Harper Collins decision to change the way they distribute their eBooks to libraries. I am unhappy about this decision. There have been many blog posts and tweets about this and as much as I’d like to add my voice to the mix I really don’t have anything new to offer. I’m not as eloquent, fierce, or energetic as the people leading the charge. I’m grateful to these and many other people for their vocal and thoughtful comments about the situation. They have kept me informed and helped me think through this issue. I’ve been working in libraries for over a dozen years and I’ve never seen the majority of the profession this focused on one issue. It’s amazing! (Of course, it would be nice to have some sort of statement from THE national library organization…but I digress)
I do have one idea though. I’d like to see librarians get to know their local publishers. Most localities have small publishers we could get to know. Why? One reason is to learn more about the publishing industry. How can we negotiate with publishers if we don’t understand what they are going through? We see our side of this situation and understand it very well. Having a better understanding of the publisher’s side can only help us.
By establishing relationships with local publishers this may give us the opportunity to experiment with new methods of digital distribution. This will take some time and we will really need to establish a great relationship with them. The benefits could be great. We could work with them to create a method of distribution that could benefit libraries and publishers. If we find something that works on a local level it may work on a national level. It’s an idea. Maybe someone can run with it. I’m hoping to contact some of the local publishers soon.
Here’s to a great opportunity to create something new!
The links I’m highlighting this week are my favorites. There are many other great posts about this topic. If I included all of them none would get read. The list is that long. Bobbi Newman has done a great job of keeping a list of the posts. I’ve created a short list of more of my favorites.
- A great discussion of (what I feel) is the real issue with eBooks and libraries: attempting to make digital distribution of content mimic the physical distribution of content. Nicholas Schiller understands this and explains it much better than I possibly could.
- Sarah Glassmeyer gives us some economics concerning eBooks and libraries. Bad news, if the public buys just one book that would have been a check out then the publishers will be ok. She’s not an accountant but her point is well made. The publishers will be just fine not doing business with libraries.
- Eric Hellman challenges the ‘Pretend it’s Print’ mindset of many publishers (and librarians) have with digital content. He mentions a tiered pricing structure as a possible alternative. Although he doesn’t really go into this idea it’s one that I’m open to learning more about. Others have mentioned it also so maybe I’ll get my chance to learn.
- Bill Rosenblatt reviews the technical and legal backdrop to what Harper Collins is doing and offers opinions on different possibilities. Very informative and level-headed. Good to have a legal perspective.
- Chad Marin argues for a one book/many readers model of eBook distribution. I like this idea very much. How to get it done? Who negotiates with the publishers? How will it work? How is copyright protected? Many questions but they can be answered.