Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age?—Part 2

Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age?—Part 2

libraries in the digital ageToday's open letter from the American Library Association could have been a warning shot across the bow of U.S. publishers. But that's presuming the ALA could actually make good on its warning...which it can't. Libraries don't even have slingshots to use against publishing Goliaths.

Still, it's a smart move—using an open letter to turn the spotlight on three of the country's (world's) largest publishers, who refuse to sell ebooks to libraries. The ALA's letter puts it this way...

Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin have been denying access to their ebooks for our nation’s 112,000 libraries and roughly 169 million public library users.... The Glass Castle [ebook is] not available in libraries because libraries cannot purchase [it] at any price. Today’s teens also will not find the digital copy of Judy Blume’s seminal Forever, nor today’s blockbuster Hunger Games series —September 24, 2012

Not all publishers refuse to sell to libraries, as the ALA points out. However, without those three major players, ...
If our libraries’ digital bookshelves mirrored the New York Times fiction bestseller list, we would be missing half of our collection any given week due to these publishers’ policies. [ALA's emphasis.]
This week, however, publishers and the ALA are meeting to try to iron out their differences—a hopeful sign, given that talks back in January of this year (2012) reached a stalemate...or worse. Penguin pulled out of library ebook sales altogether.

Random House, on the other hand, stuck around...but nearly tripled its prices to libraries, and Hachette's will more than double. HarperCollins limits libraries to lending its e-books only 26 times. This is according to Publishers Weekly.

But it's not like publishers are the bad guys. They are businesses...and must make money to survive. So stay tuned for another exciting installment in our suspense series—Libraries in the Digital Age.

See both Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age articles—Part 1 and Part 3

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