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Publisher to Public Libraries: We will nuke your eBooks after 26 Checkouts

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Filed: Country: Philippines
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LibraryGoblin sez, "HarperCollins has decided to change their agreement with e-book distributor OverDrive. They forced OverDrive, which is a main e-book distributor for libraries, to agree to terms so that HarperCollins e-books will only be licensed for checkout 26 times. Librarians have blown up over this, calling for a boycott of HarperCollins, breaking the DRM on e-books--basically doing anything to let HarperCollins and other publishers know they consider this abuse."

I've talked to a lot of librarians about why they buy DRM books for their collections, and they generally emphasize that buying ebooks with DRM works pretty well, generates few complaints, and gets the books their patrons want on the devices their patrons use. And it's absolutely true: on the whole, DRM ebooks, like DRM movies and DRM games work pretty well.

But they fail really badly. No matter how crappy a library's relationship with a print publisher might be, the publisher couldn't force them to destroy the books in their collections after 26 checkouts. DRM is like the Ford Pinto: it's a smooth ride, right up the point at which it explodes and ruins your day.

HarperCollins has some smart and good digital people (they're my UK/Australia/South Africa publisher, and I've met a ton of them). But batshit insane ####### like this is proof that it doesn't matter how many good people there are at a company that has a tool at its disposal that is as dangerous and awful as DRM: the gun on the mantelpiece in act one will always go off by act three.

And that's why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It's unsafe at any speed.

I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, "Oh, no, sorry, we didn't mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts," the libraries' answers should be "Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing." Stop buying DRM ebooks. Do you think that if you buy twice, or three times, or ten times as many crippled books that you'll get more negotiating leverage with which to overcome abusive ####### like this? Do you think that if more of your patrons come to rely on you for ebooks for their devices, that DRM vendors won't notice that your relevance is tied to their product and tighten the screws?

You have exactly one weapon in your arsenal to keep yourself from being caught in this leg-hold trap: your collections budget. Stop buying from publishers who stick time-bombs in their ebooks. Yes, you can go to the Copyright Office every three years and ask for a temporary exemption to the DMCA to let your jailbreak your collections, but that isn't Plan B, it's Plan Z. Plan A is to stop putting dangerous, anti-patron technology into your collections in the first place.

The publisher also issued a short statement: "HarperCollins is committed to the library channel. We believe this change balances the value libraries get from our titles with the need to protect our authors and ensure a presence in public libraries and the communities they serve for years to come." Josh Marwell, President, Sales for HarperCollins, told LJ that the 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies.

As noted in the letter, the terms will not be specific to OverDrive, and will likewise apply to "all eBook vendors or distributors offering this publisher's titles for library lending." The new terms will not be retroactive, and will apply only to new titles. More details on the new terms are set to be announced next week.

For the record, all of my HarperCollins ebooks are also available as DRM-free Creative Commons downloads. And as bad as HarperCollins' terms are, they're still better than Macmillan's, my US/Canadian publisher, who don't allow any library circulation of their ebook titles.

http://www.boingboin...ins-to-lib.html

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Filed: Country: England
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Could this see the resurgence of books for libraries?

If Harper Collins isn't hurt by this action, I can see other publishers following suit. Then it becomes a choice to either pay the re-licensing fee, or buy paper.

Which brings on a second question. Similar to Kodak getting out of film for cameras, will the publishers stop printing books?

I'm not opposed to technology. For example, I use 3D modelling programs at work and they are the way forward in construction. But there has always been something about a book, hard or soft cover, that keeps me coming back to reading the printed word rather than the electronic one.


Don't interrupt me when I'm talking to myself

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I have always wondered why publishers don't complain more about libraries, or used book stores, and why the movie producers do not complain more about rentals. We know the majority of artists in the music industry demand a royalty for every time a song is downloaded, or played in a bar, and professional sports get their pound of flesh from the re-broadcasters and pay-per-view.

Edited by Some Old Guy

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and DRM games work pretty well.

LOL there are not too many people who would agree with that - gamers on the whole are fed up with purchasing products and then being rewarded with a crappy time trying to get their games to run properly. I'm almost persuaded it's another method to get the remaining games off of PCs and onto consoles. I myself had so many headaches trying to get NWN2 to work when it first came out because of SecuROM so now I just refuse to buy anything if they don't have it fully sorted out even if I really want it.

Of course that's nothing compared to Ubisoft who required you to be online for your games to work regardless if it was an online game or not and at some point only a limited number of installs. Like nobody ever has to format their computers...

Of course it's not a problem if you love console games, or old games - gog.com does lots of classics DRM free now.

On library DRM ,I like this comment:

I genuinely hate to come down on the side of corporate policy, but this:

"[T]he 26 circulation limit was arrived at after considering a number of factors, including the average lifespan of a print book, and wear and tear on circulating copies."

is something worth thinking about. A library book does not remain in the collection forever. The popular titles do in fact wear out after a while, and need to be replaced.

It seems to me that expecting an ebook to remain good forever (and by extension loanable forever) makes it much harder for publishers to have any profit at all while libraries exist. Why buy the cow, etc.

Now the odds are quite good that if I like a particular book, I'm apt to buy it rather than rely on the library having a copy. This is for a couple of reasons. For one, it might not be in stock at the moment I want to check it out; it could be lent. The other reason, though, is that I know - as well as anyone else should - that libraries cannot keep a copy of every book printed on their shelves.

This, also, is not the case with ebooks. Ebooks have (essentially) no mass and occupy (essentially) no physical space. The library down the street could have every book ever produced in ebook format on a machine the size of a filing cabinet. It could loan out hundreds of copies to hundreds of readers. And it could do it indefinitely.

No, I honestly think that HarperCollins has a point here. The indefinite shelf life of ebooks, in essence, guarantees that a single sold copy of an ebook can be loaned out thousands of times. This simply is not so with paper books.

Can someone think of an alternative strategy that would allow ebooks to be available to libraries while at the same time assuring a publisher that they aren't going to lose money forever on the deal? They have to stay in business, don't they?

26 seems too small a number though.

Also, I guess I'm old fashioned but I would rather go read/study at the library for paper books. I spend way too many hours looking at a screen for my art/research/communicating as it is.


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I tried ebook (or whoops as my phone auto corrected it) and hated them. I like the smell of books, old books, library books. I like flipping through the pages and turning down the corners to hold my place. I like falling asleep while reading and waking up with a book open on my chest (sometimes my face). I would be so sad without actual books.


Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.

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Filed: Country: United Kingdom
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I tried ebook (or whoops as my phone auto corrected it) and hated them. I like the smell of books, old books, library books. I like flipping through the pages and turning down the corners to hold my place. I like falling asleep while reading and waking up with a book open on my chest (sometimes my face). I would be so sad without actual books.

I wake up with the iPad open on my chest and sometimes my face :lol:


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I've done that too and it's not the same!

Eta: I just thought of somethin I like. I'm laying here with 2 phones, iPad, and textbooks on my bed and I'm reading a textbook on the iPad because I don't want the light on.

Edited by Amby

Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.

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