E-book Restrictions for Libraries

March 12, 2011

I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune about how some publishers, such as HarperCollins, are choosing to place restrictions on the number of times public libraries can lend out electronic copies of their books. HarperCollins has decided to limit the number of times its e-books may be checked out to 26, after which time the license will expire and libraries will have to purchase a new one. Librarians are obviously worried that this will further strain their already dwindling budgets and prevent patrons from gaining access to popular titles.

I can understand the publishers’ side of things, as e-books will never wear out like traditional books, which also have to be replaced periodically. But 26 times seems kind of low. If the average patron borrows an e-book for two weeks, that means one electronic copy will have to be replaced after a single year. Does that seem fair? Wouldn’t it be better to put the number at 52 or something?

Anyway, publishers aren’t doing themselves any favors here. They’re going to turn into “big, bad villains” like the RIAA with their six-figure lawsuits against single mothers on welfare. Oh, well, there’s always IRC!!! 😉

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