Library Ebooks: Towards a Cooperative Business Model (Roundtable: 3/24/11)

The DBW Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast featuring some of the most outspoken industry professionals gathering to discuss and debate the hottest publishing issues of the moment.

Starting next Thursday, March 24th, 2011, the Roundtable will be 1-hour every two weeks, with a new, rotating cast of regulars offering their insight into the greater book publishing ecosystem.

This time we’re tackling the library ebook ecosystem. Among the questions we’ll examine:

What’s the state of the library market today, both print and ebook? Is the one book one lend policy for ebooks sustainable? How does the #hcod debate change the marketplace? And how can publishers better utilize their marketing departments to promote their titles through library channels?

Register Now!



  • Matt Mullin, Community Relations Manager, Digital Book World

Join the Roundtable for provocative discussions that will set the tone for what promises to be another exciting year in the publishing industry!





Publishing Industry Forces OverDrive and Other Library eBook Vendors to Take a Giant Step Back
Bobbi L. Newman

Ownership of ebooks will now expire after a certain number of check outs to patrons. Libraries may no longer own them forever and ever.  This is unbelievable! And a HUGE step backwards in lending rights and library access…The second bit of bad news – publishers want to meddle in your library card policies.

HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations
Josh Hadro, Library Journal

For librarians—many of whom are already frustrated with ebooks lending policies and user interface issues—further license restrictions seem to come at a particularly bad time, given strained budgets nationwide. It may also disproportionately affect libraries that set shorter loan periods for ebook circulation. While HarperCollins is the first major publisher to amend the terms of loan for its titles, two other members of the publishing “big six”—Macmillan and Simon & Schuster—still do not allow ebooks to be circulated in libraries, much to the consternation of librarians.

The 27th Patron
Marilyn Johnson

I want HarperCollins to survive, but fairly and smartly– not on libraries’ backs with clumsy attempts to staunch the economic hemorrhaging involved in shifting to a new kind of publishing, and not on authors’ backs either. (As Margaret Atwood so charmingly put it, “Who is going to pay for the cheese sandwiches on which authors are known to subsist?”) We all need to figure out how to structure this so as many of us as possible can keep supporting the valuable work of writing and reading.

Holding Our Breath Till We Turn Blue
Toby Greenwalt, Skokie Public Library

A brash statement like a boycott can get a lot of attention in the short term. But where do you go from there? You’ve created an us-versus-them mentality, and asks other parties to choose a side. Given that both library and publisher interests lie in getting as many books in the hands of as many readers as possible, any move that actively prevents this from happening makes us no better than the publishers…Rather, I think we need to acknowledge this for what it is: a business transaction. To this end, we need to enter the fray with an open mind, a willingness to negotiate, and some clear-cut demands.

It’s Not About HarperCollins
Francine Fialkoff, Library Journal

The more I think about HarperCollins’s decision to cap ebook loans at 26, the better I feel about it. No, I’m not in favor of a cap on lending. HarperCollins’s action, however, has provoked the most widespread, vociferous reaction among public librarians to any vendor policy in recent memory—even beyond that to audiobook format restrictions, which OverDrive eventually overcame (remember explaining to patrons why libraries didn’t have iPod-compatible audiobooks?).

Bullet Point: Why Publishers Need Librarians
Dave Lankes

We shouldn’t be angry with publishers – we should help them see there is life in the digital frontier – that they can be more than their inventory. Just like us. And like us it doesn’t have to be for free (libraries are not free – members pay for them with tuition, taxes, budget lines and so on). We need to show them that a model of cash for an item derived from artificial scarcity is a short-term business model. The long term is participation and services that helps everyone become a publisher. The value is not in the artifact, digital or analog, but in the knowledge creation process and facilitating it. The value is not in the fact that there is a book, but that that book engages a community. People will pay for the facilitation. Call it editing, production, graphic design, selection, it is all facilitation. The value isn’t in collections it is in memory. It is not in space, but in community gathering. The value isn’t in a website, it’s in what that web site allows you to do. The scarcity they need to be modeling is not in artifacts (titles), but in attention.

One thought on “Library Ebooks: Towards a Cooperative Business Model (Roundtable: 3/24/11)

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