My email to HarperCollins

At this point, the conversation related to #hcod (many thanks to Jeff Kreger for putting together that archive) has been largely one-sided. Librarians, readers, and even a few authors have been conversing together about ebooks and the licensing dilemma. It’s been fantastic to see so much passion and respectful debate taking place over the past two days.

But there’s been little response from HarperCollins itself, aside from this:

"We're reading your posts & listening to our authors. If you want to share longer thoughts w us, email #hcod"

I figure the least I can do is take them up on their offer. So here’s what I wrote:

Hello HarperCollins –

Since you’ve made an effort to reach out to libraries, I figured at the very least I owed you an email. I can blog and tweet and post the #hcod hashtag until the cows come home, but until libraries and publishers are talking to one another, it’s something of a lost cause. It’s important to remember that we have a common goal: getting books into the hands of as many people as possible.


Libraries have long been a part of the book-culture ecosystem, but we’e largely been ignored, or paid token lip service. But we have a role to play, and we’re eager to have a role both as content purchasers and as enablers of further book (be it e-, audio-, or otherwise) purchases. But publisher policies need to help facilitate that, not make it more difficult.


There’s a huge body of content being written right now on this subject, and I’m sure many of you are going through as much of it as possible. So I won’t take up too much of your time.


My question is pretty simple: how can we get a seat at the table? Is it possible for us to discuss this as business partners rather than antagonists?


Thank you,

Toby Greenwalt

I encourage everyone who has a stake in this to send a message in to the email HarperCollins has created for us. Just remember to keep it civil, and if you’re willing to share, please do so in the comments.

03/01/2011 UPDATE: I received a message in response from HarperCollins, directing me to read their “Open Letter to Librarians,” attached to the email as a press release. Suffice it to say, my question wasn’t answered. I share Peter Brantley’s response to the PR-speak: “meh.”

  • Anonymous

    This is good but I think the wrong approach; we’re coming from our focus on the greater social good. Corporations don’t think that way. We need to see if there’s data that supports free digital content increasing sales of paid digital content. Unfortunately it’s mixed, (yes for movies, yes and no for music).

  • Anonymous

    As I said in my previous post, the right place for this struggle is the boardroom, not the picket line. They have a product to sell, and we need to find a way to help them make it more sale-worthy. To do that, we need to show them how making easier access is an economic win for them.

    I don’t think they should give us content for free. After all, we’ve been buying what they’ve been selling for as long as we’ve existed. But as the digital delivery model begins to take a larger chunk of the market, we need to speak out as consumers, and hopefully be recognized as useful business partners.

  • Renee

    Just sent:
    I agree with Toby Greenwalt’s letter to you including the statement “Libraries have long been a part of the book-culture ecosystem, but we’ve largely been ignored, or paid token lip service.”
    More than anything the library “brand” is the book. The book is what we as librarians talk about, purchase, and spread the word about to anyone who will listen to us. The amount of free marketing you get from librarians 7 days/week, 365 days/year is priceless.
    We hope you remember that we are in this together.
    Renée P. Lowery, Assistant Director/Librarian
    Owatonna Public Library

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