The Future of E-Books and Your Library

I wanted to have a discussion about publishing, but specifically digital publishing.  Digital publishing is the future of publishing, if not its present reality.  The proliferation of various e-readers is only going to increase the demand for digital publishing.  I think most dead-tree publishers have been terrified of this looming and present threat, and consequently are circling the wagons.  This is evidenced by the recent decision made by the massive publishing house, HarperCollins.  (For more information, go here.  There is also a great article on this topic here)

HarperCollins has decided to install a kill-switch in all future digital books that are checked out from your library (using overdrive).  After 26 rentals, the e-book disappears.   Why the arbitrary number, 26?  When a library purchases a physical book it often stays in circulation longer than 26 checkouts.  I realize that publishing is a business, and that companies can’t exist without making money.  However, this type of practice is just greedy and ultimately will impede the spread of new ideas.  What do you think of this practice?  What do you think the implications of this type of move will have on academic e-publishing?

2 comments to The Future of E-Books and Your Library

  • This is a disturbing thing to see… almost as disturbing as when Amazon decided to rip copies of George Orwell’s books off of their customers’ Kindles! I can’t imagine what our library would be like if we had to take a book out of circulation after 26 checkouts! We’d have a very tiny library with only a handful of books (or we’d have an altogether non-circulating library). I seriously hope that this is not something that Brill or any other academic publisher picks up. Then again, in theological electronic publishing, there are already ebook ‘vendors’ who do not allow libraries to make their content available to their patrons at all (let alone for 26 circulations).

  • Anna

    Right, with ebooks it’s more like leasing, you don’t really own them. I can’t resell my ebooks or loan them to people (I think there’s a mechanism for loaning Kindle books, but frankly i’ve had such trouble giving people ebooks as gifts, I don’t even want to try loaning).

    That said:

    1) I do love my kindle. I no longer take a bag of books when I travel, which is so nice.
    2) I still buy paper reference books or books that are important to me to reread, because I want to own them outright. The kindle is for lighter reading, both weight-wise and intellectually.

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