Authors groups join chorus of concern over digital lending

<p>The Society of Authors and The Writers&#39; Guild have added their voices to concern over the free lending of e-books by libraries, questioning whether the proposal &quot;would benefit either libraries or authors&quot;.<br /><br /><a href="../news/115482-ba-tackles-hodge-over-free-library-e-book-lending.html" target="_blank" title=" week the DCMS&#39; Modernisation Review of Public Libraries said it would ask the Government to make an &quot;affirmative order preventing libraries from charging for e-books lending of any sort, including remotely&quot;</a>.<br /><br />The letter, signed by both the chairs and general secretaries of the author organisations, <a href="../news/115482-ba-tackles-hodge-over-free-library-e-book-lending.html" target="_blank" title=" the position outlined by the Booksellers Association today (31st March)</a>, and asks for &quot;full consultation with all affected sectors before any decisions made&quot;.<br /><br />It stated: &quot;Our concern is that remote-access loans of an e-book cannot necessarily be directly equated to the borrowing of a printed book from the shelves of a library. For example, it seems probable that the majority of e-book loans will be sought remotely rather than from a library&rsquo;s physical premises. There would seem to be nothing to prevent a single library point issuing remote-access loans nationwide. We question how this would benefit either libraries or authors.&quot;<br /><br />The letter also said that in not charging for e-book loans libraries would need to &quot;shoulder the cost&quot; of acquiring the books. &quot;We are not necessarily advocating rental as opposed to lending, but are concerned that the DCMS is excluding the chance fully to consider the pros and cons of that option,&quot; it read.<br /><br />A second letter sent by the SoA, The Writers&rsquo; Guild and the Authors&rsquo; Licensing &amp; Collecting Society, last week also expressed &quot;concerns&quot; over the proposal to bring together the functions of three organisations. The Library Modernisation Review proposed that the functions of Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the Advisory Council on Libraries and the Registrar of Public Lending Right should be bought together under a new &quot;strategic body for the library sector&quot;.<br /><br />But the groups argued that the PLR scheme would not be a &quot;good fit&quot; with the MLA and the ACL. They added: &quot;It is essential that hasty changes are not allowed to undermine the current funding, autonomy and efficiency of the administration of the PLR scheme.&quot;<br /><br />The groups have asked for a guarantee of &quot;full consultation with our organisations and other interested parties&quot; before any changes are made and requested a meeting to expand on &quot;these concerns&quot;.</p>