News

Librarians fear over digital stalemate

Librarians have warned that the year-long stalemate with the major publishers over the terms of e-book lending could damage the already beleaguered service. 

Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Pan Macmillan and Faber are among the publishers still not offering their titles for e-book lending, a year after the Publishers Association set out an agreed baseline position on e-book lending aimed at helping shape the negotiations with libraries and library suppliers. HarperCollins, which did previously supply e-books, had mooted a controversial limited loans per purchase policy, but ceased supplying at the end of April.

Stephen Edwards, head of procurement for Hampshire libraries, said: "It is only a personal view, but I do fear for the future of the library service if we do not have a good digital offer."

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said the PA was no longer trying to negotiate a joint position on the issue. "Given the diversity of opinion among our  member companies, our opinion is we leave it to individual companies to make the commercial decisions on what they go with," he said.

Tim Cotterall, commercial director at Askews, which provides e-book library supply, estimated the percentage of UK publishers offering their books for lending in libraries could be as low as 20%, though he said "gradual" progress was being made with smaller publishers.

Librarians said they are particularly short of stock in popular fiction, and that some authorities are turning to sources of out-of-copyright texts like Project Gutenberg to boost their offering.

Mark Taylor, head of libraries at Windsor and Maidenhead and chair of the digital working group for the Society of Chief Librarians, said publishers had become "more nervous" over piracy. He said: "Our argument is that e-lending of one kind or another has been going on for several years. We are still very open to a settlement that is affordable and allows publishers to grow the market."

Edwards said he viewed the possibility of Amazon and others entering the e-book lending market with concern, fearing it would "extinguish" libraries’ unique selling point. He said: "Public libraries are already finding it difficult to get a niche in the e-book marketplace at a time when many UK publishers themselves are wary of libraries’ role here." Customers were expecting libraries to be able to provide reading in the new format, he added.

Fiona Marriott, head of libraries at Luton, singled out Penguin for praise for its e-book availability, but said HarperCollins was "a real loss". She added: "Our demand is still growing. If Kindle becomes compatible with Overdrive, it will become a major issue."

Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Pan Macmillan declined to comment. A HarperCollins spokesperson said the company was not supplying e-books to libraries "for the time being", but was working on a model "which works for libraries and their users, for our authors and for us".

A Faber spokesperson said the publisher was "yet to feel confident in a model which works in everyone’s interests" but was "actively looking" at other models.

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As I understand it, the US publishers sorted this out long ago, including the US arms of the publishing houses that are throwing their toys out of the cot in the UK. Is it really too much to expect people to just share practise within their own company, never mind with others? Access to books is access to books, whether it's standard print, audio books, large print, braille or e-books. I really don't see why publishers STILL can't get to grips with the public library service, it's not exactly a radical new concept. Give me strength.

What do we think joe punter will do when he finds his favourite HC title unavailable to borrow from his local library?

Will he:

1) Sigh meekly and borrow a hardcopy
2) Return to base and buy an ecopy from Amazon
3) In a fit of rage type the title in Google and watch as literaly hundreds of versions are listed, available to download illegally and for free.

I know what I'm reading on e-device...

Deludeded idiots. Embrace the 21c before your totally disintermediated...

Some US publishers have it sorted out, but not all. Of the big six, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster don't offer library lending in the US either, and HarperCollins only does so now under very unattractive terms (a limit number of checkouts, at which point the library must repurchase the title).

Penguin and Random House and (I'm pretty sure) Hachette seem to have embraced libraries, at least.

I agree with Stephen Edwards. About two thirds of all reading - both in this country and in the United States is of books obtained through the public library service, even now. (The ratio was 75-25 only twenty years ago)

There is evidence now that library users are keen to use e-readers and to load them with ebooks through the library service in some way. But once past the novelty of 'I have a reader, are there any books' that we see on all devices, there is actually very little content available.

The matter has not been resolved at all in either country- major publishers are refusing to supply- and the harshness with which Harper Collins were treated for their genuine attempt to find a solution was silly and counterproductive.

This is a difficult problem. If the migration to ebooks continues then it will be become a bigger problem. It isn't a matter for the PA, but it is one that the senior executives of publishing houses need to give careful thought, otherwise readership figures, of all kinds of books, will begin to fall.

link: Link: http://librarianbyday.net/2011/09/28/public-library-ebooks-on-the-amazon...

Above is a link to a story where Librarians in the U.S. are quoted regarding Amazon and libraries. The remarks in are interesting and demonstrate a deep concern.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagroup.com

By Trident Media Group, LLC

RESENDING CORRECTED COPY

link: Link: http://librarianbyday.net/2011/09/28/public-library-ebooks-on-the-amazon...

Above is a link to a story where Librarians in the U.S. are quoted regarding Amazon and libraries. The remarks in the story are interesting and demonstrate a deep concern.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagroup.com

I've already gone into my reservations elsewhere about e-books and their readers.

I'm a bit flummoxed about Public Libraries and their problems with e-books. Possibly because I never use my local public library. This is partly because my horizons stretch a little further than Mills&Book soft porn or industry-hyped thrillers, but mainly because I rather like to know where the book I'm reading has been! So it may be for those reasons I'd never really thought about e-books and libraries - though I'm fairly sure my local library has yet to discover the 20th century let alone the 21st...

An immediate thought that comes to mind is that, if the lending of e-books is to become a factor in the equation, then what need have we for buildings, librarians, and the rest of the - quite expensive - local government paraphernalia? We only need a few websites, surely. With the added benefit that any DRM used to limit usage might - for once - actually benefit the public rather than line media industry pockets. I think Librarians may have quite a lot to worry about, irrespective of how the e-book firms respond - and quite possibly high time.

As I understand it, the US publishers sorted this out long ago, including the US arms of the publishing houses that are throwing their toys out of the cot in the UK. Is it really too much to expect people to just share practise within their own company, never mind with others? Access to books is access to books, whether it's standard print, audio books, large print, braille or e-books. I really don't see why publishers STILL can't get to grips with the public library service, it's not exactly a radical new concept. Give me strength.

Some US publishers have it sorted out, but not all. Of the big six, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster don't offer library lending in the US either, and HarperCollins only does so now under very unattractive terms (a limit number of checkouts, at which point the library must repurchase the title).

Penguin and Random House and (I'm pretty sure) Hachette seem to have embraced libraries, at least.

What do we think joe punter will do when he finds his favourite HC title unavailable to borrow from his local library?

Will he:

1) Sigh meekly and borrow a hardcopy
2) Return to base and buy an ecopy from Amazon
3) In a fit of rage type the title in Google and watch as literaly hundreds of versions are listed, available to download illegally and for free.

I know what I'm reading on e-device...

Deludeded idiots. Embrace the 21c before your totally disintermediated...

I agree with Stephen Edwards. About two thirds of all reading - both in this country and in the United States is of books obtained through the public library service, even now. (The ratio was 75-25 only twenty years ago)

There is evidence now that library users are keen to use e-readers and to load them with ebooks through the library service in some way. But once past the novelty of 'I have a reader, are there any books' that we see on all devices, there is actually very little content available.

The matter has not been resolved at all in either country- major publishers are refusing to supply- and the harshness with which Harper Collins were treated for their genuine attempt to find a solution was silly and counterproductive.

This is a difficult problem. If the migration to ebooks continues then it will be become a bigger problem. It isn't a matter for the PA, but it is one that the senior executives of publishing houses need to give careful thought, otherwise readership figures, of all kinds of books, will begin to fall.

link: Link: http://librarianbyday.net/2011/09/28/public-library-ebooks-on-the-amazon...

Above is a link to a story where Librarians in the U.S. are quoted regarding Amazon and libraries. The remarks in are interesting and demonstrate a deep concern.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagroup.com

By Trident Media Group, LLC

RESENDING CORRECTED COPY

link: Link: http://librarianbyday.net/2011/09/28/public-library-ebooks-on-the-amazon...

Above is a link to a story where Librarians in the U.S. are quoted regarding Amazon and libraries. The remarks in the story are interesting and demonstrate a deep concern.

Robert Gottlieb
Chairman
Trident Media Group, LLC
www.tridentmediagroup.com

I've already gone into my reservations elsewhere about e-books and their readers.

I'm a bit flummoxed about Public Libraries and their problems with e-books. Possibly because I never use my local public library. This is partly because my horizons stretch a little further than Mills&Book soft porn or industry-hyped thrillers, but mainly because I rather like to know where the book I'm reading has been! So it may be for those reasons I'd never really thought about e-books and libraries - though I'm fairly sure my local library has yet to discover the 20th century let alone the 21st...

An immediate thought that comes to mind is that, if the lending of e-books is to become a factor in the equation, then what need have we for buildings, librarians, and the rest of the - quite expensive - local government paraphernalia? We only need a few websites, surely. With the added benefit that any DRM used to limit usage might - for once - actually benefit the public rather than line media industry pockets. I think Librarians may have quite a lot to worry about, irrespective of how the e-book firms respond - and quite possibly high time.