Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Wrong War Over eBooks: Publishers Vs. Libraries


English: The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of...
Libraries, like other consumers, should be free to buy any published e-content at competitive prices, to keep these items in their collection, and to loan them to their patrons. Anything less violates basic democratic principles …
Libraries and big six publishers are at war over eBooks: how much they should cost, how they can be lent and who owns them.  If you don’t use your public library and assume that this doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong.
In a society where bookstores disappear every day while the number of books available to read has swelled exponentially, libraries will play an ever more crucial role.  Even more than in the past, we will depend on libraries of the future to help discover and curate great books.   Libraries are already transforming themselves around the country to create more symbiotic relationships with their communities, with book clubs and as work and meeting spaces for local citizens.
For publishers, the library will be the showroom of the future.  Ensuring that libraries have continuing access to published titles gives them a chance to meet this role, but an important obstacle remains: how eBooks are obtained by libraries.
This column is the first in a two-part series about libraries and their role in the marketing and readership of books.  This first part addresses the present conflict.  The second part will look forward to the future for libraries and publishers and the important challenges that they must address.
The solution to the current pricing problem lies in understanding that the argument publishers and libraries are having is the wrong argument.  It is based on the paradigm of the printed book and as such presents a series of intractable challenges for both publishers and libraries.   By changing the model for pricing an eBook, both parties could find a clear and equitable resolution to the current impasse

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