Okay, Now What.

Image CC Scott Ableman, via Flickr

The #hcod issue has gone a long way toward demonstrating the passion and dedication librarians feel toward their collections. There have been some fantastic responses (not to mention some fantastic efforts to gather them all), and each day shows that our understanding of the issue is continuing to evolve.

But there’s a prevailing sense of “well, now what?” hanging over this conversation. All this noise is creating an opportunity for someone from HarperCollins to reach out to us. It’s up to them to make that happen, and we’ll see if any of these entreaties go beyond the PR boilerplate we’ve received thus far.

As something of an Open Thread Thursday discussion, I’d like to posit a couple of questions.

1. What does our ideal ebook lending environment look like?

2. What are we willing to pay for it?

Our ability to reconcile these two questions will go a long way toward showing us if a lending model for ebooks is even worth pursuing.

What do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/jdscott50 Jeff Scott

    I think that publishers don’t know what to do about ebooks and they are scared about profit loss. I agree with Peter Murray over at Digital Library Jester http://dltj.org/article/thursday-threads-2011w9/ that this was just a trial balloon. The whole publisher model is shifting. With a print book a library gets a 40% discount from bookjobbers (Ingram, baker and taylor), but through Overdrive, you pay full price, and now you pay extra with the HC move. Ultimately, we may be faced with having to pay more for ebooks to recoup the publisher loss of income (mostly because they lack the imagination to change to a better model and customers will have to pay for that lack of imagination.) We may end up going back to the drawing board asking, “What is an ebook? How much would you pay for it?

  • http://twitter.com/WCPLnews W C Public Library

    Actually, comments by Jim Fitzpatrick with comments from Diane Bronson over on the Open Letter from HC (see PR boilerplate link above) has good suggestion re charge per circ

  • Nicholas Schiller

    For #1: I think both vendors and librarians need to fully acknowledge that books and ebooks are not the same thing. Both parties want to have ebooks behave like physical books when it benefits them/us but also to have them behave like digital objects when that benefits us/them. It isn’t reasonable for publishers to charge print prices for ebooks when printing and distribution costs are trivial compared to print books. It also doesn’t seem reasonable for libraries to take advantage of digital media advantages in allowing unlimited copies, simultaneous users, collective purchasing, etc. while simultaneously asserting that licensed goods have rights of first sale. It would be nice to have our cake and eat it too, but I don’t think treating ebooks like physical books when it suits us and like digital media when it doesn’t is a fair and sustainable model.

    For #2: I think we need a tiered pricing approach. Perhaps one that looks like electronic journals. One price for a print copy, one price for a ejournal copy that includes ownership of purchased items after we end our subscription and a third option for access only, like a database, that allows us to access content for a yearly fee, but that access ends when our subscription lapses. There is nothing wrong with HC wanting to charge a yearly subscription fee, it would just seem more right if it were placed in the context of tiered options. That way libraries could choose to pay for their preferred balance of access vs. ownership.

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