When a library buys a book, it buys it once. This was the case for e-books as well. Now, HarperCollins is making its e-books expire for libraries after 26 checkouts. In other words, it’s treating an e-book like an e-subscription to a magazine, such that the library never actually owns the book outright. And libraries are outraged; some are even boycotting all HarperCollins books, which include those by Anne Rice, Sarah Palin, and Michael Crichton. Libraries claim that, as demand for e-books skyrockets, they cannot afford to re-buy e-books. HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, claims that this move is necessary to protect e-book retail sales, physical book sales, and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Do you think that all publishers should take this move to protect book sales? Or do you side with libraries, which are already pinched for money as state budgets are slashed across the country? Would you like to see the price of e-books be kept from going too low or do you see e-books as a natural progression that should not be tampered with?
Michael Norris, senior analyst, Simba Information, market research firm that studies publishing and media industries; editor of Book Publishing Report
Deb Czarnik, library manager for Technical Services and Collection Development, Lee County Library System in Florida