eBooks in libraries have been a challenge for quite a while. Libraries often can’t afford the licensing fees, or people don’t know they can check them out, or the Overdrive system has issues…there are many barriers to entry.
Now it looks like publishers are putting yet another roadblock in front of public libraries trying to build an ebook following. Apparently, HarperCollins is now requiring libraries to “re-purchase” ebooks after they are downloaded 26 times. So popular books are going to need to be re-upped pretty frequently! This is going to put a serious crimp in the growth of public ebook libraries since paper books can potentially hang around for longer than 26 borrows, not to mention the fact that multiple copies can be in circulation (vs one license per 26 reads on an ebook).
It’s exactly as greedy and nasty of a move as it sounds. Straight from Overdrive library system’s memo:
To provide you with the best options, we have been required to accept and accommodate new terms for eBook lending as established by certain publishers. Next week, OverDrive will communicate a licensing change from a publisher that, while still operating under the one-copy/one-user model, will include a checkout limit for each eBook licensed. Under this publisher’s requirement, for every new eBook licensed, the library (and the OverDrive platform) will make the eBook available to one customer at a time until the total number of permitted checkouts is reached. This eBook lending condition will be required of all eBook vendors or distributors offering this publisher’s titles for library lending (not just OverDrive).
This almost makes the agency pricing model look warm and fuzzy! It’s very sad to see publishing making this kind of move against libraries, and hopefully, others don’t follow HarperCollins misguided lead. Personally, I’ve been frustrated with libraries and ebooks due to the thin content, but it’s an option that is on my radar. I keep hoping my county library system will improve, but it certainly won’t if this is what they are up against!