PLR doubt over library e-book plans

<p>Public libraries are poised to move rapidly into e-book lending, with up to 20 library authorities planning e-book programmes next year. However, the development has prompted concern among UK publishers.</p><p>Overdrive, which provides e-book services to 8,000 libraries in North America and globally, held a seminar for 70 UK librarians last month. President and c.e.o. Steve Potash said response was &quot;phenomenal&quot; and the company had &quot;significant plans&quot; for the UK.</p><p>But Public Lending Right (PLR) legislation does not yet cover e-books, and Faber m.d. Stephen Page has called for a &quot;health check&quot; discussion between publishers, authors and librarians to thrash out the boundaries surrounding e-book lending.</p><p>Jim Parker, head of the UK PLR agency, said: &quot;Current legislation is restricted to loans of printed books. We&rsquo;re working with the Authors&rsquo; Licensing and Collecting Society, and the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group on ideas and recommendations for culture secretary Andy Burnham on how we might update [the] scheme.&quot;</p><p>Luton Libraries will launch an e-book/audio download service before Christmas, while Essex Libraries plans to extend its e-book programme with an audio download service. Potash said Overdrive was also &quot;managing opportunities with many of the London area libraries&quot;.</p><p>The Overdrive system allows library users to download e-books and audiobooks using a library card. Files deactivate after the loan period is over.</p><p>Fiona Marriott, principal librarian for Luton libraries, said she hoped to use the scheme to target Luton&rsquo;s many commuters. Norfolk libraries chief Jennifer Holland said she was experimenting with Sony Readers: &ldquo;We are going to take them out with demonstrators and get people&rsquo;s views.&quot;</p><p>Page called for discussion between publishers, authors and librarians to ensure &quot;a happy settlement about the lending of books with the introduction of a new, less boundaried medium&quot;. He said: &quot;I think we should have a clear discussion to agree the limits of the service, rather than just allow a market to emerge.&quot; Page plans to consult the publishing community about the issues involved via the Trade Publishers Council while Miranda McKearney of the Reading Agency is set to do the same with libraries.</p>