The big six publishers have stopped providing ebooks to public libraries. This was
in a letter from my local library. You can just Google it to check it out. I
love my Kindle just like you do and I love the fact that I can borrow a library
book without having to drive to the library to pick up the book and drive back
to the library to return it. It’s bad for the environment – not to
mention my wallet. What’s your take on this?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #7, I look at the effect Kindle and ebooks are having on
libraries and publishers and explore some possibilities that may be available
to libraries in the future.
Kindle and ebook popularity
My take on this is that we are in an early stage of ebook acceptance where the growth of the ebook market is disrupting more traditional publishing and publishing related ventures.
Digital music and the mp3 file has thrown the music industry into a loop and pushed several music publishers into very defensive positions where they’re trying to regain some kind of control. In my opinion, book publishers are in this same position.
They need to learn many of the lessons that the music publishers are, hopefully, learning as well. Ebooks are here to stay: they are a wonderful way to get information distributed; they are cheaper to manufacture. Libraries are important to people and as a result, it’s really incumbent on the book publishing industry to come up with solutions that allow libraries to work… for the reasons that you’ve just mentioned.
Working library solutions
I have seen scenarios that work and work well.
The most common one is where a library is issued a fixed number of electronic copies. In a sense, that’s kind of a made-up concept because obviously the books are digital; they can be copied instantly. You can have infinite copies of ebooks, but the licensing agreement that they take up with the publisher gives them a fixed number of copies, say six, so that those six copies can be loaned out and no more than six copies can be loaned out at a time.
This basically mimics what libraries do if they were to publish six physical books. That is part of (I think) what keeps publishers comfortable because it mimics something that they’re used to.
I do believe that the publishing industry is in quite a bit of turmoil behind the scenes as electronic publishing and digital books become more available. I think it’s going to be an interesting few years, as a lot of the issues like this one get themselves resolved.