News

PA sets out restrictions on library e-book lending

The Publishers Association has set out an agreed position on e-book lending in libraries that will see library users blocked from downloading e-books outside of the library premises. Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page announced the new guidelines this morning (21 October) at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference in Leeds.

Page told conference delegates that "all the major trade publishers have agreed to work with aggregators to make it possible for libraries to offer e-book lending" with the addition of certain "controls". He said the guidelines had been developed because of concerns over free e-book lending offered by some libraries to lenders "wherever you are" in breach of publisher contracts.

The Overdrive library e-book lending system widely used by UK libraries currently allows members to download e-books onto their home devices remotely by employing a passcode supplied by the library.

Under the new scheme, library users would have to come onto the library's physical premises to download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, rather than downloading the book remotely. The scheme would also see the fee paid by a library to buy a book covering the right to loan one copy to one individual at any given time, and would require "robust and secure geographical-based membership" in place at the library service doing the lending.

Page stressed that that "some publishers will choose to be less stringent than others" in implementing those controls, particularly that involving remote downloading. "We will now work with the digital library suppliers to ensure that this service can be quickly brought to libraries," he added.

Page told the PLA conference that the PA's new position on e-book lending had been forged after some library authorities mismanaged their lending.

"Unfortunately recent activities by some library authorities have only confirmed how potentially damaging e-book lending can be if allowed to operate without controls," he said.

"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?"

 

 

Joint speech by Stephen Page, CEO Faber and Miranda McKearney, Director of The Reading Agency - Public Library Authorities conference, 21 October 2010  

Publishers, libraries and the future of the reading service

Stephen Page

You don’t need me to tell you how difficult the times are going to get for the Public Library Service. I am sorry to be standing here today against a backdrop of difficulty of a magnitude the service may never have known before.  As a publisher this seems especially disappointing as the last ten years have seen such an exciting re-imagining of the reading service, giving a strong platform to build on. Libraries are a vital component of the reading industry and the challenge you face is one that must be shared by your partners in the publishing industry. Outside the children’s arena until relatively recently publishers had ceased to see libraries as central to the industry.  The relatively low commercial significance of library book buying (less than 4% of trade publishers’ income in the UK) has meant that the deeper partnership had not flourished as it once had and after the demise of the Net Book Agreement mass market opportunities and global expansion took centre stage. The threat of this new environment, however, brings new focus to what libraries contribute not just to our communities and society, but also to the reading industry and furthermore to its contribution to the creative economy. So what are we doing about it?

The Publishers Association is working hard now to support the lobbying effort to at local and national level, emphasising Public Libraries’ dynamic potential to deliver social change and its role in the creative economy. We are working with The Reading Agency and other library stakeholders to hep to create public awareness of the issue at local and central government, and are backing a number of initiatives with authors, the media, and the trade generally.

It is not only for commercial reasons that publishers recognise the importance of the library service. Publishing remains an industry with an element of vocation. Many authors and publishers believe simply in the good that libraries do, but the role libraries play in the commercial and economic landscape has brought freshness to the partnership recently. Reader development and the hosting and nurturing of audience have, though, brought publishers to the table for a more active and involved conversation with libraries and that’s part of what I want to talk about today. Before I do that I thought it might be useful to give you a brief overview of what’s going on for UK publishers, particularly in the digital arena. It is the crucial context for our involvement with the Public Library Service as we too face a time of unprecedented change.

Ebook sales represent between 6% and 10% of sales for some US publishers. For some books it’s much higher – Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom has sold 600,000 hardbacks and over 300,000 ebooks so far in the US. In the UK the release of the iPad in April and the Kindle in September has fired the starting gun for a proper ebook market for the first time. Predictions suggest that ebook sales will account for 3-5% of the market by this time next year. To make this possible publishers have to make a giant catalogue of books available digitally which requires royalty agreements, conversion of digital files to epub, storing, pricing, creating metadata, distributing and marketing. It’s a giant remaking of the canon and will take a little time - and all this alongside our usual activities, and with negligible extra revenue. However, there are already large numbers of ebooks available, most new titles will be available simultaneously in physical and print editions within the next 6 months, and within a year or so we should be catching up with the US model where Kindle has over 700,000 in copyright titles available. I’ll come to the question of how that canon is brought to the library service in moment.

Creating ebooks is not all publishers have been doing. We have also been transforming our marketing and our attitude to audience creation. Look at the publication of Stephen Fry’s new book. Penguin created 5 no.1s for the first time. Hardback, ebook, enhanced ebook, app, and audio. Their campaign for the book covered online, offline, home and global markets, created events, and made use of social networks as well as performance. Fry is particularly well-suited to this kind of new model but it created a new benchmark for publishers. It requires new skills. Consumer orientated marketing as opposed to trade marketing. You need technological know-how and imagination to make digital products beyond the ebook. You have to learn how to balance price across a range of products. All publishers will have to invest heavily to allow for this new balance to what they make, where they put their investment, how they generate an audience for all these different products, and how they distribute their wares. The days of pile ‘em high aren’t gone, but it only represents one facet of the campaign now.

It is this interest in developing audience away from traditional media and the book trade that has led publishers to think anew about Public Libraries. I have to say that without The Reading Agency this would not have happened. It is perhaps interesting that a small, entrepreneurial charity has achieved such a strategic shift in partnership with the commercial sector, and perhaps in a future where the service loses some central strategic support with the closure of the MLA this kind of model may create a path for support from the commercial side of the industry. Miranda and her team brought publishers back to the service as an interested stakeholder. Publishers have been taking books to readers in an increasingly mass market high street. The gap between the successful books and those described as mid list has widened dramatically recently, and it has become harder for writers to build careers. Commercial pressures have made partnering with the trade often more transactional, with less room for building audiences for writers over the longer term. Witness the demise of Borders, collapse of EUK, and the sale of Ottakars. Times are very tough. This has led publishers to seek a more direct engagement with readers, though not necessarily to sell to them directly.

The Reading Agency created, with championing senior publishers, a partnership scheme called Reading Partners to make this happen and has done so enormously effectively. After 5 years 39 publishers are now engaged with the scheme and work closely with libraries to bring authors into communities. Major authors are willing to do this now. Faber recently held events involving Kazuo Ishiguro. Iain Banks is due to do one next week, Ellen McArthur and Chris Ryan later this autumn; Lynne Barber, Blake Morrison and lots more will participate in a massive readathon for Penguin’s 75th birthday. More broadly Faber has created a series of poetry and crime events, Random House has done excellent online reading group events, there have been a host of readers days,  and imaginative events like Girls Nights In and Historical Readers Panels. Like the growth of festivals from the mid-90s to now I can imagine this network of activities become a perpetual nationwide conversation between authors and local communities. That excites me and other publishers. And going further than that it could also herald the development of the already burgeoning partnership between the high street book trade and libraries. Waterstones are now members of the Reading Partners scheme, and independent bookshops get involved. Connecting the crucial high street stock-holding booksellers to libraries through regular thrilling events could also help the survival of many local bookshops. This may not be your concern, but the survival of an excellent library service and a diverse range of excellent bookshops both seem to me to serve the same goal of a thriving nation of readers which in turn must serve the creative economy, which we know is such a hugely important part of UK plc.

So, publishers are seeking partnership with libraries primarily because it is a place where we can build audience. In doing so we can help bring people to local libraries for events and we can assist reader development programmes. It also gives us a chance to create more awareness around some of our niche publishing areas and audiences including the BME market. There are other things that we can bring – expertise and promotional materials for a start. Publishers create huge amounts of physical and digital promotional materials for their books. Most of this is available to libraries.

When we talk about digital people often jump to the conclusion that we mean ebooks. Well, the first digital revolution for book publishers was in marketing. A few years ago I asked a newspaper editor who his main competitor was. He said CNN. He was having to learn to make moving images, away from text to sound and vision. Similarly publishers are moving from print to moving visuals and audio for their marketing. Our websites are over-flowing with extraordinary content; short films, interviews with authors, promotional videos, samples, audio clips, dramatisations. Our main challenge is populating the internet in places where readers will find this material. Libraries would be an obvious partner in this task. So if you want a website that is rich in content for your library members there is already an abundant amount of material available and working with the Reading Partners scheme I hope that we will be able to get it to you. The Think Tank later this year will be key in deciding best next steps to make this happen.

So what about lending ebooks? For more than a century the author and publishing communities have been in accord with the library service in allowing books to be borrowed from libraries, forgoing any anxieties about lost sales and supporting the central, civilised notion of universal access to learning. This need not change in the digital world, but lending ebooks is a much more complex subject full of greater jeopardy than the lending of physical books. Authors and publishers are already contending with the new challenge of digital piracy and so embracing ebook lending has been slow as authors and publishers have been cautious. Why? Authors and publishers cannot allow a universe in which ebooks can be accessed remotely for no charge without the strictest controls. To do so could undo the entire market for ebook sales. Unfortunately recent activities by some library authorities have only confirmed how potentially damaging e-book lending can be if allowed to operate without controls - 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? Or any book for that matter?

However, Publishers are keen to ensure that lending e-books is possible and want to support public libraries in offering access to e-books on the same terms that apply to printed books. A variety of models and suppliers are emerging and publishers are already working with them. The PA has had useful discussions with the Society of Chief Librarians, The Reading Agency and MLA.  The members of the Publishers Association have now created an agreed base line position on e-lending. All the major trade publishers have agreed to work with aggregators to make it possible for libraries to offer ebook lending.  The following maximum controls were agreed, though I want to stress that some publishers will chose to be less stringent than others. This is merely a base position to ensure that we are able to start to make the complete, vast library of ebooks available for loan:

Firstly the fee paid by a library in purchasing a book covers the right to loan one copy, of one book, to one individual, for a fixed short term period at any given time – various licensing models exist to support this condition.

Secondly, robust and secure geographical-based membership must be in place for all library services, with permanent members required to demonstrate their residence within the locality and with provisions to cater for temporary membership for visitors.

Thirdly, the system works on a download model, whereby library users come on to the library’s physical premises and download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, such as an e-reader, laptop or mobile phone.

Finally, a downloaded e-book will expire after a predetermined length of time (e.g. two weeks), after which it will cease to be available to read on the library user’s mobile device. 

As I say, some publishers may take a more relaxed view, particularly of remote downloading, but the above criteria allow for a strong beginning that replicates physical lending. It is worth also saying that this may not be the only model. Subscription services are already emerging as in the academic world – Bloomsbury’s Public Library Online being a prime early mover.

We will now work with the digital library suppliers to ensure that this service can be quickly brought to libraries. What’s important is that we have been able to establish the principle of support for lending ebooks, and an environment in which this can be done that will put authors and publishers minds at rest while supporting the notion of universal access.  It’s an important first step along the way and no doubt once underway we’ll work out further developments.

I will now hand over to Miranda. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. I hope that the increasing closeness of our partnership will continue. One initiative that Miranda will talk about, World Book Night, will give us an extraordinary opportunity to work together in March 2011, and a chance to shout loud about the essential nature of the library service.

I also hope that our support for you over the coming months does something to assist you in your battle to adapt the service to one that continues to be excellent and that supports the major purposes for which it was designed. You may be sure of our vocal support for that.

 

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

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This defeats some of the main benefits of e-books - being able to access remotely - rather than sitting in one location. Those not able to get to the library though age or lack of mobility will not benefit.

Sure some other model could be worked out that stops a free for all but allows reote access. I thought we were in the 21st century....

This seems like a retrograde step (c.f The Music Industry. vs Internet), but one of which Rupert Murdoch might approve. However, this illustrates the advantages of printed text which can be taken anywhere, without restriction.

This really is King Canute stuff! If your not paying for the content in the first place (other than through taxation) and tech savvy enough to have a device why would you bother?! This really will drive potential borrowers to the pirates.

If some libraries aren't managing their geographical membership properly, why not suspend those libraries from the system rather than make the whole system substantially (and in many cases, fatally) less useful to readers?

The publishers are either completely clueless about convenience or they're not really serious about e-book lending. Either way this is doomed to failure.

Thanks for not supporting the Library Service and for penalising anyone who can't access a library either becuase of physical restraints or time pressures. The whole point of E Books is access 24/7, not just when the library is open. The PA get plenty of money by the way it charges. A library authority is charged on its population, let's say 1mil people. But only a small percentage of them actually use the service, let alone E Books.

Many smaller libraries have been shut, and no doubt more will follow with many local authorities intending to make cuts to current library services- including opening times- so making readers go into the library to get the downloads could kill off e-book borrowing before it has a chance to flourish.

Very brave of Stephen Page to say this at the PLA conference.
Does anyone know if he got out alive?

Brilliant! One 'copy for one user' e-books that you have to drive/walk/bus to the library to go and fetch (from their but of the internet, rather than your own). Very 2007.

Unbelievable. I have to assume that Overdrive realizes that this will just about kill its business model? Libraries (especially now, with such tight budgets) will not and cannot afford to purchase a service that doesn't meet 21st century user requirements. This seems like punishing everyone for the sins of a few (and interestingly enough, those sins are not clearly listed in the article...did they actually happen, or was the PA looking to create a reason for cutting libraries out entirely?). Why not banish the problematic libraries and leave the rest of the law-abiding ones alone?

This is a major FAIL, not to mention insane... oh wait, I just mentioned that.

What a joke

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 ebook 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. 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!

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 ebook 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. 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!

What on earth do you expect publishers to do? They are businesses first and foremost, not charities. A free-for-all at any place at any time may be a wonderful idea for the consumer, abled or disabled, but it obviously won't fly as far as publishers are concerned (in fact it seems to have crashed). Come on. I really can't believe that anyone would think publishers could deal with this in any other way. As regards "secure online banking can be managed" - you bet, they've GOT YOUR MONEY and "robust and secure" information about you, there's not much room for you to abuse the relationship. Simple local library membership, I suggest, is somewhat different in that respect.

Is there a link or can you point to the whole report? That'd be great, thanks.

Hello all, as requested I've posted the full text of Stephen's speech delivered today so you can digest what he said in full context.

I work in libraries and this isn't what we wanted - I'm with Adrian Short (below) on this.

This just wont last . It is an artificial restriction running counter to the ability for remote downloading. Publishers have restrictive practices running in there blood, and more and more they are running counter to what people want . Even with new technology they are trying to rule the market this way , eg with Agency pricing .Against market pressure this restriction will break wide open- and a lot quicker than the 90+ years it took to brush the NBA aside , the premier publisher's restrictive practice .

This needs to be a joke. As others have mentioned, you're going to insist on a physical model to limit access of an electronic file which hurts those who cannot make it to their local library during open hours. The library has already verified card holders by driver's license or electric bill to verify a person's "localness". What difference does it make if I'm traveling and want to download a book my library has bought and paid for that is available for a person to checkout even if I'm not locally there? If you think I'm going to then go and buy it from Amazon or someplace online so I can download it and get it now, you're fooling yourself. Especially, knowing it is the publisher's fault that I can't get the copy from the library, I'm not going to want to give you any money. Take into account concerns for traveling business people, family vacations where cash is tight, etc.

An extra concern I have is plugging my portable device into a public network. I don't want to do that. I don't know what restrictions or security the PUBLIC library has in place to protect my device from viruses, hacking, data stealing, etc.

PA is looking at this the wrong way. You want to make it as easy as possible to get items into the hands of your customers. If I find a new author, I'm going to go to my library first to see if I like them. If I do, then I'll buy their product. If you make it hard for me to try an author, I won't. Stop being so rigid. Think in innovative ways. Learn from the music industry's fiasco. Be the next iTunes and find a way to make this work with the technology where you still get paid but you're product is promoted, circulated, visible and accessible. You are being so short-sighted and punishing because of irrational fears and ideas.

Spare me the crocodile tears about how "difficult the times are going to get for the Public Library Service." What they are saying here is basically "we're sorry things are so tough for you, but we think e-books are a really promising market for us (and since it's relatively new, it's one where we have an opportunity to dispense with financially inconvenient and outmoded ways of doing business) and here's how we can justify the fact that we are getting ready to screw all of you." Following the logic of the PA's argument here, perhaps we could even take the retro step of only allowing patrons to read physical books AT the library and not allow them to leave our premises; no interlibrary loan allowed either. I wonder if they have considered offering a better compromise - one that perhaps demands a higher per-title per-copy price for licensing materials to libraries or library consortitia? Sorry, their argument against remote lending can be based on one thing only: Greed. This is really about limiting access to content for monetary gain. They want to control access so to maximize their profit margin. Such a move will likely close the library market off for them as vendors like Overdrive wake up to a severely restricted market. Maybe that's what the PA is really after: Driving out the middle man and ending free mass-lending. This position goes against the democratic principles on which public libraries were founded.

This defeats some of the main benefits of e-books - being able to access remotely - rather than sitting in one location. Those not able to get to the library though age or lack of mobility will not benefit.

Sure some other model could be worked out that stops a free for all but allows reote access. I thought we were in the 21st century....

This seems like a retrograde step (c.f The Music Industry. vs Internet), but one of which Rupert Murdoch might approve. However, this illustrates the advantages of printed text which can be taken anywhere, without restriction.

This really is King Canute stuff! If your not paying for the content in the first place (other than through taxation) and tech savvy enough to have a device why would you bother?! This really will drive potential borrowers to the pirates.

If some libraries aren't managing their geographical membership properly, why not suspend those libraries from the system rather than make the whole system substantially (and in many cases, fatally) less useful to readers?

The publishers are either completely clueless about convenience or they're not really serious about e-book lending. Either way this is doomed to failure.

Thanks for not supporting the Library Service and for penalising anyone who can't access a library either becuase of physical restraints or time pressures. The whole point of E Books is access 24/7, not just when the library is open. The PA get plenty of money by the way it charges. A library authority is charged on its population, let's say 1mil people. But only a small percentage of them actually use the service, let alone E Books.

Many smaller libraries have been shut, and no doubt more will follow with many local authorities intending to make cuts to current library services- including opening times- so making readers go into the library to get the downloads could kill off e-book borrowing before it has a chance to flourish.

Very brave of Stephen Page to say this at the PLA conference.
Does anyone know if he got out alive?

Why penalize those that administer and/or use the system correctly? This is a HUGE backwards step and really does target those less able to get into their local library, be it through age, mobility issues or just transportation ones. We

Brilliant! One 'copy for one user' e-books that you have to drive/walk/bus to the library to go and fetch (from their but of the internet, rather than your own). Very 2007.

Unbelievable. I have to assume that Overdrive realizes that this will just about kill its business model? Libraries (especially now, with such tight budgets) will not and cannot afford to purchase a service that doesn't meet 21st century user requirements. This seems like punishing everyone for the sins of a few (and interestingly enough, those sins are not clearly listed in the article...did they actually happen, or was the PA looking to create a reason for cutting libraries out entirely?). Why not banish the problematic libraries and leave the rest of the law-abiding ones alone?

This is a major FAIL, not to mention insane... oh wait, I just mentioned that.

What a joke

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 ebook 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. 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!

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 ebook 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. 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!

What on earth do you expect publishers to do? They are businesses first and foremost, not charities. A free-for-all at any place at any time may be a wonderful idea for the consumer, abled or disabled, but it obviously won't fly as far as publishers are concerned (in fact it seems to have crashed). Come on. I really can't believe that anyone would think publishers could deal with this in any other way. As regards "secure online banking can be managed" - you bet, they've GOT YOUR MONEY and "robust and secure" information about you, there's not much room for you to abuse the relationship. Simple local library membership, I suggest, is somewhat different in that respect.

Is there a link or can you point to the whole report? That'd be great, thanks.

Hello all, as requested I've posted the full text of Stephen's speech delivered today so you can digest what he said in full context.

I work in libraries and this isn't what we wanted - I'm with Adrian Short (below) on this.

This just wont last . It is an artificial restriction running counter to the ability for remote downloading. Publishers have restrictive practices running in there blood, and more and more they are running counter to what people want . Even with new technology they are trying to rule the market this way , eg with Agency pricing .Against market pressure this restriction will break wide open- and a lot quicker than the 90+ years it took to brush the NBA aside , the premier publisher's restrictive practice .

This needs to be a joke. As others have mentioned, you're going to insist on a physical model to limit access of an electronic file which hurts those who cannot make it to their local library during open hours. The library has already verified card holders by driver's license or electric bill to verify a person's "localness". What difference does it make if I'm traveling and want to download a book my library has bought and paid for that is available for a person to checkout even if I'm not locally there? If you think I'm going to then go and buy it from Amazon or someplace online so I can download it and get it now, you're fooling yourself. Especially, knowing it is the publisher's fault that I can't get the copy from the library, I'm not going to want to give you any money. Take into account concerns for traveling business people, family vacations where cash is tight, etc.

An extra concern I have is plugging my portable device into a public network. I don't want to do that. I don't know what restrictions or security the PUBLIC library has in place to protect my device from viruses, hacking, data stealing, etc.

PA is looking at this the wrong way. You want to make it as easy as possible to get items into the hands of your customers. If I find a new author, I'm going to go to my library first to see if I like them. If I do, then I'll buy their product. If you make it hard for me to try an author, I won't. Stop being so rigid. Think in innovative ways. Learn from the music industry's fiasco. Be the next iTunes and find a way to make this work with the technology where you still get paid but you're product is promoted, circulated, visible and accessible. You are being so short-sighted and punishing because of irrational fears and ideas.

Spare me the crocodile tears about how "difficult the times are going to get for the Public Library Service." What they are saying here is basically "we're sorry things are so tough for you, but we think e-books are a really promising market for us (and since it's relatively new, it's one where we have an opportunity to dispense with financially inconvenient and outmoded ways of doing business) and here's how we can justify the fact that we are getting ready to screw all of you." Following the logic of the PA's argument here, perhaps we could even take the retro step of only allowing patrons to read physical books AT the library and not allow them to leave our premises; no interlibrary loan allowed either. I wonder if they have considered offering a better compromise - one that perhaps demands a higher per-title per-copy price for licensing materials to libraries or library consortitia? Sorry, their argument against remote lending can be based on one thing only: Greed. This is really about limiting access to content for monetary gain. They want to control access so to maximize their profit margin. Such a move will likely close the library market off for them as vendors like Overdrive wake up to a severely restricted market. Maybe that's what the PA is really after: Driving out the middle man and ending free mass-lending. This position goes against the democratic principles on which public libraries were founded.

You know, I'm just stunned about this. I'm thinking about academic libraries and the accessibility of ebooks to students. I'm thinking about my own personal use of ebooks in graduate school. And I'm also thinking about how I would not have gone into a library to download that book to my laptop. What's the point? I wouldn't do it! I would use a database and find another source that will allow me access where I need it: HOME!

This is just another indication that the days of publishers have gone. It's just a matter of time.

Am I just being thick? Surely the publishers who sell to the aggreagtors have agreed that their ebooks can be downloaded from anywhere. If they disagree then don't sell their products to the aggregators. Overdrive (for example) can then simply offer ebooks to their customers from publishers who don't offer any restrictions.

Or is that too simple?

I do not understand the claims of lending outside geographical restrictions. To borrow an e-book, the borrower must be a member of the library. To be a member, they will have had to actually physically visited the library to receive their membership card (which is usually the PIN required to borrow), thus whenever they use that PIN they are proving their geographical location. This decision is extremely harmful to public libraries and their users. It completely denies the point of e-books and will inhibit their take up, and will contribute to the decline of the public library service in the UK. If we are denied the opportunity to provide services online, we are denied the right to develop our services according to customers (taxpayers!) needs and the opportunity to survive in the future. The PA is not on our side now.

"Under this model, who would ever buy an e-book ever again?" - Don't e-loans expire though - in which case the same criteria could be applied to printed material i.e. you buy because you want to keep - duh!

...yes but you don't buy an ebook to keep and to treasure and to look good in your ebooks directory do you? You buy it to read and that's that, so in that sense why would you buy an ebook instead of downloading it for free (and renewing it if you're a slow reader)? I can see i'm in the minority here but I could never see why publishers would want a free version of their product, especially if anyone in the world could use it. Another story on here points out Amazon can't control territories and if a huge E company like that can't, what chance does your local library have? I'll never own an e-reader anyway, real books FTW Woop! Woop! Woop! :-p

If anyone seriously thinks that people are going to travel to the mainland from most of the Inner Hebridean islands where there is no physical library presence, they should think again. Ebooks could have been be a major strand in vastly improving service to islands and other remote geographic locations - we don't all live in the urban belts, you know. This statement shows total ignorance of how a large part of the UK lives.

It is scarcely credible that the PA will be able to rally the entire publishing industry around such a misguided and na

Libraries should just not sign up to the services that subscribe to or have to comply with this view. There are alternatives. Not all publishers agree with Stephen Page - some are embracing the opportunity download brings and passionately supportive of libraries. Libraries should choose services that offer broadest possible reach and widest possible readership for e-books, and libraries should not underestimate their power of influence and the value of their relationships with dedicated readers.

The Publishers Association

At The Reading Agency we have a long and important partnership with publishers through our Reading Partners scheme. Part of this has a digital strand, and we're exploring how publishers can work with libraries to take reader development work on line, with a special focus on shared digital marketing. We're holding a digital think tank about this later this year, and are working with the Society of Chief Librarians on plans for a Reading Groups for Everyone initiative which will have a strong digital element.

Stephen Page's speech at the Public Library Authorities conference brings a critical dialogue about the right conditions for e-lending right out into the open. We're obviously keen to see readers benefiting from a strong library e-books offer so we hope the Publishers Association and the main library bodies can build on the positive platform the Reading Partners scheme has created, and work together to thrash out the complex technical issues around e-lending.

We understand the publishers' position outlined this week is not a recommendation from the PA, but a baseline position to build on. It's clearly not where we hope everyone will end up. A solution for remote access has to be found which benefits readers, authors/writers, service providers and the publishers themselves, and we are still a long way from this. But publishers are actively trying to find a way to make e-books available to the public through libraries and we must build on that and keep talking.

When we set up Reading Partners, it was underpinned by research which showed that readers both buy and borrow. Libraries offer a risk free introduction to writers, and readers often go on to buy. There is now a need for new research, looking at the relationship between e-buying and borrowing. Interested partners please get in touch.

It's worth reading the whole of Stephen's speech which has a much broader take on how libraries and publisher can work together. Our Director Miranda McKearney spoke on the same day about the importance of maintaining the momentum of libraries' work to modernize the reading service.

There's a serious practical issue with this proposal in the number of devices that would have to be supported for it to be any use. It's one thing saying users can just 'download from a terminal' but another entirely making that work with all the devices that support the current DRM systems.

What a backwards move! Remote libraries are the way forward for the public library service. In my authority, visitor numbers are falling yet issues and active borrowers remain stable due to the ability to renew items and reserve items remotely - this is how they wish to access services in 2010! If I could post hard copy items to members, I would, so long as they were using our services and if this is what they want! DVD lenders have taken this approach and as a result we have seen our DVD hire service decline as readers prefer to have their titles delivered to home and are prepared to pay for it. An annual subscription to a service such as Overdrive (and purchase of titles) is not a cheap option for any library service and presumably a large chunk of this goes to the publishers. Libraries do not financially benefit from the arrangement due to the wide agreement that they do not charge for ebook borrowing - we do it to provide a comprehensive service that meets customer needs - the core of our service. I don't see any of the online reference providers getting up in arms about geographical locations or remote access - we pay the subscription, they get their money and the user gets an excellent service from the comfort of their own home - users wouldn't come into a library to search the OED online if they could use it on the shelf next to them! My authority cannot afford a downloadable ebook service as yet and is going to be less inclined to find the money at the expense of other services if the main attraction of remote 24/7 access is withdrawn.

"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?"

Me!
The whole point is that you lose the ebook after 21 days - if you really like it and want to buy your own copy, you do so. Just as you would do with a print version. I have "borrowed" ebooks then gone on to buy my own copy. I have tried out books from the library I may have hesitated to buy initially, or looked for more books by an author I had trialled from the public library's ebook collection.

I can understand the geographical restrictions, as long as all library authorities offer an equally comprehensive service....which is doubtful. By the way, haven't public libraries relaxed the geographical rule in the case of print books? You can now use your library card anywhere in the country, so we will have one rule for pbooks and one for ebooks then?

But as for actually having to go into the library and log on and download my ebook on the premises....forget it. What a pity, just when I thought that the library service could become exciting and innovative.

This will kill ebook lending for libraries.

Agree with the comments in another email - this will disadvantage the ill, old, immobile, the whole idea of the digital world is ease of access, whatever you are trying to do, read a book, a magazine, look at some fine art, that one will never see in real life.
The libraries have got to consider this in much more depth, to me this looks like a knee jerk reaction from the publishers, and others that are making a very good living from 'books' at the moment.

I'd implore everyone to look at the Office of National Statistics figures on access to the internet: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/iahi0810.pdf. The old, the poor, the least educated, are those that have *the least* access to the internet and the least access to the digital world.