eBooks Raise Issues for Libraries

This article by the Kearney, Nebraska, Public Library directory explains why libraries may not be able to offer the latest eBooks, and why their selections may be limited.

The highlights:

  • Random House marks up eBooks 300% for libraries.
  • Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette (three of the publishers involved in the dispute with Amazon) won’t sell to libraries at all.
  • HarperCollins only allows 26 checkouts per book before requiring the library to purchase another—as if the book had worn out.* The library consortium voted to boycott them.
  • Penguin is being childish over their dispute with Amazon and won’t allow any new books to be sold through Overdrive, the company that handles eBooks for many public libraries. Penguin has a separate deal with Queens Public Library.

* I’ve read several studies, both formal and informal, which indicate that the average library book lasts significantly longer than 26 checkouts. Two librarians created an amusing YouTube video showing the condition of several HarperCollins books checked out from 25 to more than 100 times.

Read more at columbustelegram.com.

BrainHive to Offer Schools Pay-As-You-Go Access to eBooks

BrainHive, a new eBook rental service, plans to offer eBook rental to schools. They will charge $1 per book when a student or teacher checks it out. This seems like a good way to make a much wider range of books available to small libraries, but at the same time, it could get very expensive, very quickly. BookSprung, an eBook news site, discussed this issue with regard to the 26-times checkout-limit put in place on library books by HarperCollins and noted that, based on an anecdotal survey, popular books are often checked out many dozens of times before their natural end-of-life due to wear and tear. Dozens of students might check out the same popular paper book, and it only costs the school a fixed amount for the physical product. In the “pay-per-view” scenario offered by BrainHive (and publishers who limit checkouts), however, the cost is never-ending and prevents libraries from being able to accurately predict and control costs.

Read more at schoollibraryjournal.com.