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Librarians worried by publisher e-book restrictions

Librarians have warned that publishers have "declared war on libraries" with the new position on library lending, announced by Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page this morning at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference in Leeds. Page said that all the major trade houses had agreed a baseline position through the Publishers Association placing restrictions on library e-lending, including a ban on remote downloading.

"Recent activities by some authorities" had necessitated the move, said Page. "Some services were lending for remote downloads, without geographical restrictions. This was in breach of contracts between the library and aggregator, and between the aggregator and publisher, and was advertised to the general public as 'free e-books, wherever you are, whenever you want'. Under this model, who would ever buy an e-book ever again?," he asked.

Luton's head of libraries Fiona Marriott, writing on The Bookseller's website, commented: "I've had to read this statement five times, as I can't actually believe it! In Luton we work with Overdrive - we offer one e-book per customer at a time, and I have always been in favour of this model. The rights to the book have been agreed, and we limit the service to customers in our area - they have to come into a library to join. I have turned down people who live in Scotland, Blackpool, China and even London. If other authorities aren't playing by the rules, then deal with them, not us."

She added: "I can't believe the PA has declared war on libraries in this way, with absolutely no consultation - we have blind and visually impaired customers who consider this service as a lifeline, they say it has given them back the independence of reading choice, and they would be livid at this statement!"

Online responses from other librarians writing on the public library discussion forum LIS-PUB-LIBS today ranged from "Words fail me" to "Totally defeats the whole point of e-books from libraries" and "So all the people libraries were targeting that don't and can't get into their local library to access stock, will now not bother coming to the library to download their e-books either."

Library staff also questioned how to reconcile the technical issues involved with the PA plan with Overdrive's widely used library e-lending system.

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I laugh at your naivety! Did you think us publishers would allow anyone to have a cut of the action once we could deliver directly to the reader!? Mwuhahahaha! You poor naive people!

btw...In my burble avoe I meant the library goer would never have to return a book (I put read).

And how are libraries supposed to lend ebooks without remote downloads? Between this and fixing the prices, it's as if they don't want anyone to actually read an ebook. Or maybe this is why. ...Because they have fixed the prices that nobody agrees with or want to pay, they now want to stop anyone renting the ebook instead, thereby forcing people to pay the ridiculous price for their ebook. Sounds like some ridiculous orange wednesdays board meeting up at a head office. Which just about sums the whole thing up.

The PA's comments are driven entirely by fear and not opportunity - which is sad when the new technology of download brings with it such great opportunity for all of us - retail and library. And the PA forgets the role libraries play in society and in promoting their books. The idea neglects that there are two distinct sets of users, those who borrow and those who buy to own. The idea that nobody would ever buy again is far fetched and poorly thought-through, but if that did happen there would be a business model around it. There is simply no evidence or consultation involved in this statement it is entirely based on imagination and fear. I am deeply saddened to see such an important trade body for books and reading come out with such negative and poorly thought through statements. When what we need is a PA that embraces opportunity and helps the industry move forward.

In the late 1970s I remember an educational publishing conference talking about photocopying being a threat to textbook publishers, then the hot rights/revenue topic. One of the contributions to the debate was 'Everyone is rightly in favour of the free flow of information, but that is not the same as flow of free information'. Plus

In the late 1970s I remember an educational publishing conference talking about photocopying being a threat to textbook publishers, then the hot rights/revenue topic. One of the contributions to the debate was 'Everyone is rightly in favour of the free flow of information, but that is not the same as flow of free information'. Plus

I laugh at your naivety! Did you think us publishers would allow anyone to have a cut of the action once we could deliver directly to the reader!? Mwuhahahaha! You poor naive people!

btw...In my burble avoe I meant the library goer would never have to return a book (I put read).

And how are libraries supposed to lend ebooks without remote downloads? Between this and fixing the prices, it's as if they don't want anyone to actually read an ebook. Or maybe this is why. ...Because they have fixed the prices that nobody agrees with or want to pay, they now want to stop anyone renting the ebook instead, thereby forcing people to pay the ridiculous price for their ebook. Sounds like some ridiculous orange wednesdays board meeting up at a head office. Which just about sums the whole thing up.

The PA's comments are driven entirely by fear and not opportunity - which is sad when the new technology of download brings with it such great opportunity for all of us - retail and library. And the PA forgets the role libraries play in society and in promoting their books. The idea neglects that there are two distinct sets of users, those who borrow and those who buy to own. The idea that nobody would ever buy again is far fetched and poorly thought-through, but if that did happen there would be a business model around it. There is simply no evidence or consultation involved in this statement it is entirely based on imagination and fear. I am deeply saddened to see such an important trade body for books and reading come out with such negative and poorly thought through statements. When what we need is a PA that embraces opportunity and helps the industry move forward.