Sieghart to lead e-lending review

Sieghart to lead e-lending review

The government is expected to announce a review of library e-lending tomorrow (Wednesday 26th September), with William Sieghart, founder of Forward Publishing and the Forward Prize for Poetry, leading the initiative, and Faber chief executive Stephen Page, PFD chief Caroline Michel and author Joanna Trollope all included on the panel of experts supporting him.

Society of Chief Librarians president Janene Cox and British Library chief executive Roly Keating are also expected to be panel members.

The DCMS said in July that culture minister Vaizey was "delighted that his proposals for an independent review of ebook lending are gathering cross-party support and looks forward to working with publishers, library professionals, local authorities and members from both sides of the House in taking these forwards."

The government is now expected to formalise that review, looking at how it can be ensured that libraries and their users, authors and publishers can all benefit from the growth of an e-lending service.

The review is expected to consider the barriers to the supply of e-books to libraries and the possible consequences of e-lending, including the long term impact on library premises, the effect on publishers and the impact on those who cannot keep up with changes in technology.

The decision not to include a bookseller on the panel will disappoint many. BA chief executive Tim Godfray previously requested such a "seat at the table" at the review, saying: "Any decision taken around e-book lending has such potential to make or break our book retailing landscape."

Strong concerns were expressed at the Booksellers Association conference last week (16/17th September) over the issue of library e-lending. BA president Patrick Neale said: "Everyone must be concerned about unrestricted e-lending in libraries - the logical outcome is that people could never buy a book again." PA president Ursula Mackenzie said: "We've been working hard to make the government understand it [unrestricted e-lending] would be cataclysmic for all of us. I think that argument has been heard... there are some small bits of listening going on."